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West Ham United
Posted by Billy Blagg on 05/04/2011

Ultimately this was still a defeat, I guess, but there was quite a bit to admire about West Ham's fightback in this match and there were fairly long periods where I believed a point wasn't beyond the Hammers' capabilities. Eventually though, the result was decided in the first 15 minutes with Nigel de Jong's long shot and Jacobsen's Own Goal from an excellent Zabaleta one-two that left the Hammer's full-back with little option but to clear from underneath his own bar and into the net.

It was the most inadvertant OG and, had Jacobsen left it, then the ball would have been tapped in at the far post by a lurking Balotelli, but even so for me it was Jacobsen's and not the City players goal - much as the Danish defender may not want the stat on his record!

Two nil down after only a quarter of an hour and there was an unsettling feeling that West Ham's goal difference was going to become even worse than it was but, quite suddenly and most surprisingly, the visitors got a grip in midfield and started to push themselves back into the game.

Robbie Keane looked to have a great opportunity but his one on one with Joe Hart had the England stopper pulling off a fine save although West Ham weren't to be denied with Ba striking home from close range just after the half-hour mark to set up an interesting encounter.

West Ham had already lost Matthew Upson after 26 minutes - the claret and blue's Captain getting a lot of stick in the unofficial club forums for seeming to trot off unaided after an earlier injury, many wondering if Billy Bonds or Julian Dicks would have gone off quite as easily - with da Costa coming in and looking a little more assured.

With the Hammer's midfield keeping control of the ball for long periods - admittedly without doing much damage - the home supporters grew nervous while the visiting fans from east London sensed something could be in the offing.

But, despite De Jong having to be substituted for James Milner at half-time, it was the home side that came closest in the second period when Balotelli crashed a shot against the bar after 55 minutes with Yaya Toure hitting the rebound straight at Green.

West Ham went close soon after when Da Costa forced Hart to turn an excellent header away from a corner, but City should have gone further ahead when Silva was put through by Toure. The Spainard actually went clear round Green and squared to Balotelli but his shot was blocked on the line by James Tomkins. Even so, West Ham still had periods where they passed the ball cleanly and, though a good deal of end-to-end ensued, the visitors gave as good as they got in terms of posession if not goal threat.

Avram Grant tried to chase the game by replacing Keane with Carlton Cole and Victor Obinna for Luis Boa Morte - the latter had actually looked the Hammer's most threatening player - but Ba struck wide before City had further attempts stopped by Green without too much concern. West Ham seemed to have run out of ideas before the end and there was a feeling that the 2-1 was probably the best that could be gained in the circumstances, but this was certainly a better performance than might be expected in a game many neutrals - as well as West Ham fans - thought was a forgone conclusion.

Nevertheless, it now leaves only three games and it looks as if the Irons will need to win all three to have any hope of playing Premiership football next season. This being West Ham, some are still hoping for another Steve McQueen moment but, sadly, it's looking increasingly unlikely.

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Posted by Theboleyninheritance on 05/05/2011

Unlike other great escapes we don't have the fight, will or match winner to get us out of it this time. We haven't won a game in two months and yet expected to win three on the bounce?

Posted by Stuart Clenahan (Evertonian) on 05/07/2011

Hammers,it ain't over until it's over!!!! The fat lady hasn't started singing yet so keep the faith until the very last. Fingers crossed for you all.

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Billy Blagg Born at an early age a mere defenders' spit from the Boleyn ground, Billy Blagg has seen every West Ham game from 1898 onwards. Blagg was mentioned by Kenneth Wolstenholme in 1966 as one of the people on the pitch during the famous Hammers win over West Germany that lifted the World Cup and he returned to the pitch again for the 1975 FA Cup Final but stayed on the terrace for 1980 FA Cup victory. Blagg, 26, now lives with his eighth wife and innumerable children in a small semi-detached with chintz curtains in Dagenham, Essex and still attends every Hammers match and training session.

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