No Christmas cheer for West Ham as Cole’s red card allows Everton to hit back
West Ham United 1 Everton 2
Everton take full advantage of West Ham going down to 10-men as they hit back to win 2-1 at Upton Park before having a player sent off themselves
Referee Anthony Taylor will not be on the Christmas card list of anyone who witnessed a Scrooge-like display that left Upton Park’s sell-out crowd with absolutely no festive cheer.
After Carlton Cole had given West Ham an interval lead with his second goal of the season, he then saw his afternoon turned on its head as Victor Anichebe levelled, before the Hammers striker was dismissed for an innocuous high boot on Leighton Baines.
And after Steven Pienaar bundled home a 72nd-minute winner, referee Taylor then sent-off Everton’s Darron Gibson for an equally soft offence on Mark Noble, before departing to a chorus of chants that will not feature on any Christmas Carol playlists.
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Following last Sunday’s gritty, goalless draw at West Bromwich Albion, Sam Allardyce made just one change as James Tomkins came in for an ill Guy Demel, while the Hammers boss also had the luxury of naming a full set of seven substitutes – as opposed to last weekend’s half-dozen - with fit-again duo of Jack Collison and Alou Diarra returning to the bench.
Sylvain Distin sent an early downward header bouncing inches past the angle before Everton did get the ball into the net thanks to Leon Osman’s header but an eagle-eyed assistant referee spotted that Anichebe had obstructed Jussi Jaaskelainen as he tried to claim Leighton Baines’12th-minute corner.
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Anichebe was one of three Everton changes from the side that had shared an ill-tempered draw at Stoke City, as Phillip Neville and John Heitinga also replaced Seamus Coleman, suspended Marouane Fellaini and substitute Steven Naismith, who joined ex-Hammer Thomas Hitzlspeger in the dug-out.
Having kicked off in sixth-spot, six places and four points ahead of West Ham, the Merseysiders were still complaining that Osman’s effort had not set them on the road towards putting yet more daylight between themselves and their hosts, when Cole put the Hammers ahead just two minutes later.
Playing the ball out of defence, the hugely impressive James Collins found midfielder Noble and he patiently picked out the forward run of Matt Taylor, who found the Hammers striker in space, 20 yards out.
With Heitinga not getting close enough to Cole, the seven-times capped England striker advanced to the edge of the area, where he unleashed a crisp low shot that flew across the damp Boleyn Ground turf, beyond the outstretched right glove of Tim Howard and into the bottom left-hand corner.
Having taken the lead, West Ham were not going to relinquish it lightly and with most of the first-half action taking place in a busy midfield, where the tackles and blocks flew with neither side able to find the final, killer ball, Everton were restricted to a wayward Nikica Jelavic effort and a Pienaar long-ranger that Jaaskelainen comfortably fielded.
Moments into the second-half, Everton should have levelled, when Collins clearance ricocheted off Joey O’Brien into the path of Jelavic eight yards out but the Croatian could only scuff the ball into the clutches of Jaaskelainen.
Gibson then curled a 20-yard free-kick just past the angle before Allardyce replaced O’Neil with Modibo Maiga for the final half-hour.
Within moments of his arrival, the Hammers substitute collected from Cole ten yards out but his low shot cannoned off the heel of the diving Distin.
With Everton looking the most threatening, that was a rare opportunity for West Ham and Maiga found himself in the thick of things, once more, when he was booked for felling Pienaar as he looked to break upfield.
Things then just went from bad to worse for West Ham in eight minutes of misery.
From the consequent free-kick, the ball was worked out to Baines, who found Pienaar and he floated in a cross from the left flank for Anichebe to get in front of Collins and glance a header under the far angle to level on 64 minutes.
As West Ham came to terms with the loss of their lead, Cole was then dismissed by referee Taylor for a high boot on Baines, even though the six-feet, three-inches Hammers striker got a toe to the ball before his foot made contact with the head of the five-foot seven-inches England full-back, who did even need treatment.
The stunned Cole duly departed to rapturous, sympathetic applause from the incensed claret and blue fans amongst the crowd of 35,005, who left the official in no doubt that their man had been wronged.
And, insult was added to injury on 72 minutes, when Baines found Pienaar, who played an incisive one-two with Osman inside the West Ham danger-zone before bundling the ball over the line despite Noble’s last-ditch attempt to block the ball on the line.
Kevin Nolan curled a late effort just wide of the far post and, after Jelavic missed an absolute sitter, the Hammers skipper then agonisingly slid wide another late chance wide under pressure from Distin but predictably, referee Taylor had the final word, when he harshly sent off Gibson for a high boot on Noble’s shoulder before departing to chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing,” from both sets of supporters.
Hammers: Jaaskelainen, Tomkins, O’Brien (Spence 81), Reid, Collins, Noble, Nolan, O’Neil (Maiga 58), Taylor, Jarvis (Collison 88), Cole. Unused subs: Spiegel, Diarra, Moncur, Lletget.
Toffees: Howard, Neville (Naismith 86), Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Heitinga, Osman, Gibson, Pienaar (Oviedo 88), Anichebe (Duffy 90+3), Jelavic. Unused subs: Mucha, Hitzlsperger, Barkley, Velios.
Booked: Maiga (64)
Sent-Off: Cole (67), Gibson (90+2).
Referee: Anthony Taylor