WEST HAM UNITED v BLACKBURN ROVERS
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 7 MAY 2011
FULL AUDIO COVERAGE - WEST HAM TV
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Final score - West Ham United 1-1 Blackburn Rovers
95 mins - West Ham win a late free-kick. Hitzlsperger clips it in, Da Costa wins the header but it won't drop. Collison heads it back into the box, but Ba is offside. Robinson clears and the final whistle is blown.
94 mins - Blackburn make their final change after Collison volleys over the top. Diouf is replaced by Rochina. Seconds to go as Bridge is fouled. Green to launch one...
92 mins - So close. Piquionne's cross falls to Ba, but his shot hits Samba. Seconds later, Cole's backheel finds Spector, but his cross is hacked clear. Spector throws in and the ball drops to Cole, but his shot hits Samba again and flies over the top.
91 mins - Givet has the physio on. Blackburn want to make a final change, with Rochina replacing somebody, but not yet,
90 mins - Olsson fouls Piquionne wide on the right. Hitzlsperger is voted man of the match for West Ham just before he takes the free-kick. He does, but it's punched clear by Robinson. Gabbidon feeds the German again, but his left-foot shot is blocked on the edge of the box by Givet. We'll have four added minutes.
89 mins - Piquionne has made a massive difference. He comes forward again, but his volleyed cross for Ba is headed clear from inside the six-yard box.
88 mins - I'm sorry, but you can't afford to miss those. Piquionne gets in behind and rolls the ball across the six-yard line for Keane. He has the goal gaping, but doesn't get enough on his shot and the chance goes begging.
87 mins - Time is running out to find a winner, but a Blackburn goal would be almost curtains. Andrews crosses, but Samba can't reach it.
84 mins - Bridge launches a long diagonal ball and Olsson barges Piquionne over. It's about 30 yards out, right of centre. Hitzlsperger is lining it up. He curls the ball over and Ba goes for it. The ball bounces up and Da Costa tries an overhead, but it bounces safely into the arms of Robinson.
82 mins - Cole commits a foul about ten yards inside the Blackburn half. Robinson hits it long and a Blackburn player flicks on, but the ball bounces a yard or two wide with Green scrambling.
80 mins - Da Costa sends another ball into the box but it's handled. Chance for Hitzlsperger to cross from about 35 yards out. It's a great ball in by the German, but Cole can't quite get his head to it.
78 mins - GOAL! Hitzlsperger! Cole picks out Piquionne with a superb crossfield pass. The Frenchman's cross clips a defender and loops to Cole at the far post. He holds the ball up before pulling back for the German to rifle a low shot past Robinson. Game on.
77 mins - They nearly got it back there. Collison sends Cole clear down the left touchline. He looks up and picks out Ba, but the No21 can only divert a powerful header a couple of yards wide of the near post. It's a head in hands moment for the striker.
76 mins - The game has lost any sort of pattern, to be honest. West Ham had a bit of momentum after the break, but they've lost it now.
72 mins - A bit of ping-pong on the edge of the Blackburn box ends with the ball falling to Bridge. He shoots right-footed, but his shot is weak and rolls harmlessly wide.
71 mins - Bridge hits it long, Piquionne heads down and Cole shapes to shoot, but Givet is there to poke the ball clear.
69 mins - Spector is booked for a sliding challenge on Hoilett. Blackburn make a double change, with Roberts replaced by Santa Cruz and Hoilett replaced by Andrews.
67 mins - A quarter of the game to go as Ba collects a bouncing ball 25 yards out and shoots, but it flashes a yard wide.
65 mins - The American crosses and the ball is headed behind by Givet. Hitzlsperger's corner is punched clear for a throw by Robinson.
64 mins - Grant makes his two final throws of the dice, bringing on Collison and Piquionne for Sears and Jacobsen. Spector is at right-back.
61 mins - Blackburn come forward and N'Zonzi is again invited to shoot. Green turns his effort aside. Hoilett picks up the loose ball and cuts inside but slices his shot well wide of the far post.
60 mins - Half-an-hour to go. Cole is up front with Keane behind. Sears is wide right and Ba wide left. Sears comes forward and crosses, the ball flicks off a Blackburn head to Cole, who controls on his chest before heading the ball forward for himself and going to ground under a challenge from Pedersen. No penalty given. Cole punches the turf in frustration.
58 mins - That's a good chance. Cole wins the flick-on from Green's clearance but Sears can't control. He tries to keep the ball in, but concedes the goal kick.
56 mins - Da Costa makes a good challenge on Hoilett but he can't prevent the corner. Pedersen delivers, Samba heads down and Green makes the save.
55 mins - Roberts wins a header and the ball drops to Pedersen 25 yards out, but he drags his shot wide. In the break in play, Keane replaces Boa Morte.
54 mins - West Ham are playing with more purpose since the break. Cole does well and finds Boa Morte. He spreads it wide left to Bridge, who passes inside for Hitzlsperger. The No11 clips a pass over the top for Ba, but it's a yard too strong.
52 mins - That's controversial. Sears is fouled on halfway. Play continues and Samba stabs it out for a corner. As he does so, Walton blows for a free-kick for the foul on Sears. Keane is coming on shortly.
50 mins - Ba holds the ball up and Boa Morte rolls it to Hitzlsperger. He shoots first time and Robinson is forced to dive to his right to parry the ball to safety.
49 mins - West Ham play some patient football before Boa Morte holds off his marker and finds Bridge, who wins a corner off Emerton. The ball flicks off a head to Spector, who cuts inside and shoots left-footed from 20 yards. The ball bounces about a yard wide with Robinson just watching. Unlucky.
47 mins - Boa Morte and Pedersen battle for possession before the Norwegian goes down clutching his face. Not sure there was much in that but Boa Morte is booked.
46 mins - The ball almost falls to Sears straight away from Cole's flick-on, but the No19 can't reach it.
46 mins - Hoilett and Diouf get the second half underway. You don't need me to tell you how important the next 45 minutes are...
Half-time score - West Ham United 0-1 Blackburn Rovers
48 mins - Hitzlsperger's corner causes havoc inside the box as Ba has the ball about six yards out with his back to goal. He lays it off, but the shot from Spector is blocked and referee Walton blows for half-time before Hitzlsperger can deliver again.
47 mins - West Ham have had some pressure in the last five minutes or so, but they're runinng out of time to find an equaliser before the break. Jones fouls Da Costa about 35 yards out. Hitzlsperger's shot hits a defender and goes behind for a corner.
46 mins - Ba is fouled by Samba 22 yards out. We're going to have at least two added minutes. Da Costa's free-kick hits the ball and rebounds to Boa Morte. His volley looks as if it might be going in until it hits Ba on the backside. The striker is offside.
44 mins - Robinson is worked by Sears. Boa Morte floats a ball over Samba for Ba. The No21 does well against the giant defender before rolling the ball laterally for Sears. The youngster hits his shot low, but the goalkeeper dives to his left to cling on.
42 mins - Grant has switched to a 4-4-2 formation with Boa Morte wide on the left. The change nearly pays off straight away as Cole gets beyond Givet and crosses. Unfortunately, it's too strong for Boa Morte, who can only help the ball behind for a goal kick.
40 mins - Bridge misjudges a long diagonal ball and Diouf gets in behind him. The No41 crosses and the ball hits Gabbidon in the face and flies behind. Pedersen crosses and Samba is penalised for a foul before heading over the top.
38 mins - Jones brings down Spector about 35 yards out. Hitzlsperger to take... It's too short and Blackburn clear easily. In the meantime, Da Costa is booked for dissent.
37 mins - Half-time is rapidly approaching and West Ham could do with equalising before they sit down for a cup of tea. Hitzlsperger shoots from distance, but it's blocked. The ball comes back to the German, who appears to be fouled. Nothing given. Blackburn break and N'Zonzi is invited to shoot from 25 yards, but he drags his effort well wide.
34 mins - Cole and Ba combine before the latter sees his shot clip a heel and fly to Spector, who heads goalwards, but it's straight at Robinson. Jones is back on.
32 mins - Diouf is back on, but now Jermaine Jones is down and clutching his head. The big American goes to the touchline for some treatment.
31 mins - That's a chance. Gabbidon wins the ball from Emerton and Bridge crosses for Ba, who gets in front of his marker but plants his header a couple of yards wide.
30 mins - Hitzlsperger crosses and Gabbidon heads on goal, but it's blocked. Boa Morte's follow-up effort is also cut out and Blackburn clear, but not before the crowd make a loud claim for a penalty for a foul on Cole. Nothing given by referee Peter Walton.
29 mins - Hitzlsperger prods a ball through for Ba, but his effort is blocked by Samba. Boa Morte retrieves possession, but his low cross is easily cut out. West Ham come again and Cole wins a corner off Samba. Come on West Ham...
28 mins - Diouf is down on the turf inside the Blackburn half. I didn't see what happened to the Senegal man, but he seems to have hurt his head.
26 mins - Close again for Blackburn as Hoilett skips past Jacobsen and pokes a cross to the near post, where Gabbidon swings a leg to clear in front of Roberts.
25 mins - N'Zonzi sends Emerton in behind again and the Australian crosses. Da Costa misses it and the ball is just ahead of a diving Pedersen.
23 mins - Sears makes a run across the face of the box and latches on to Hitzlsperger's pass, but his left-foot cross is blocked.
22 mins - Another long throw from Jacobsen but Cole heads it out for a throw under pressure from Samba.
21 mins - West Ham win a throw level with the Blackburn box. Jacobsen hurls it in and Cole flicks on. The ball is cleared to Boa Morte, but he is crowded out by three defenders on the edge of the penalty area.
19 mins - Ashley Young has equalised for Aston Villa against Wigan. Pedersen takes a long throw and Da Costa heads it straight back to him. The Norwegian tries an audacious volley that flies across the pitch and out for a throw on the other side fully 30 yards from the West Ham goal line!
18 mins - Hoilett is allowed time to turn about 25 yards out. He looks up and threads the ball through to Roberts, but the goalscorer is offside.
16 mins - West Ham win a free-kick wide on the left. Hitzlsperger curls the free-kick over and Da Costa wins it, but his header bounces wide.
15 mins - West Ham force a corner, but they can't get the ball inside the penalty area. Blackburn clear and N'Zonzi challenges Bridge and releases Hoilett. He gets into the penalty area but loses control of the ball, allowing Green to collect. West Ham counter, but Spector's ball over the top for Sears is too strong.
13 mins - GOAL! West Ham lose possession in midfield and Blackburn break with numbers. Emerton gets in behind Bridge and crosses low for Roberts to prod into the net from six yards.
11 mins - Bad news from Villa Park. Charles N'Zogbia has put Wigan Athletic 1-0 up.
8 mins - There is a decent noise level inside the stadium and West Ham look dangerous. Cole's movement is causing trouble for the Blackburn defenders. Almost on command, Cole challenges and the ball almost drops for Spector. Da Costa picks up possession outside the box and bundles through a challenge before shooting from the right corner of the penalty area. Ba is offside as he diverts the ball over the crossbar.
5 mins - That's better. Ba and Cole combine well before the former picks out Sears. His pass is blocked but Jacobsen keeps up the pressure and Sears wins a corner. Hitzlsperger curls it in and Da Costa wins the header. Pedersen heads off the line. The ball drops to Spector, whose first-time shot hits Givet on the head.
3 mins - Pedersen's corner is initially headed clear at the near post by Ba, but it's headed straight back into the danger zone. Pedersen is challenged by Boa Morte and the ball loops up to Diouf, who swings a leg and volleys well wide.
2 mins - That was so close. Roberts holds the ball up for Pedersen, whose first-time shot flicks off Da Costa and flies about a yard wide. Corner.
2 mins - That's a decent chance for Cole. Gabbidon's pass is cleverly flicked on by Ba to Boa Morte. He slides in Cole, but his left-foot shot is blocked and Robinson picks up the loose ball.
3pm - Blackburn's players break from the huddle as 'Bubbles' rings out again. West Ham kick-off shooting towards the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand.
2.58pm - Well, it's now or never for the home side. The supporters are in good spirits and making plenty of noise. Now, let's start fast, get the opening goal and secure a storming victory...
2.56pm - Here come the two teams, led by captains Robert Green and Christopher Samba...
2.54pm - There is plenty of optimism in the Press Box that West Ham will do the business this afternoon. Let's hope the men and women of the media are right. Both sets of players are back in their dressing rooms and the sprinklers are on, as are the floodlights. Two machines are firing bubbles across the mouth of the tunnel. Very dramatic.
2.47pm - The players are on the big screen telling everyone inside the Boleyn Ground just how important it is for the fans to get right behind the team today. Manuel da Costa heads off the pitch and stops quickly to receive his award for SBOBET Player of the Month for April. The big defender gives the fans a clap in recognition of their acclaim.
2.42pm - Good news from Cobham, where the Under-18s have defeated Chelsea 4-1 in their final FA Premier Academy League fixture of the season. Elliot Lee bagged a hat-trick, while Robert Hall was on target from the penalty spot. The result means West Ham finish third in Group A.
2.40pm - For those who would like to hear a player's perspective on today's game, Gary O'Neil is joining Ian 'Moose' Abrahams on talkSPORT. They will be bringing supporters updates from the Boleyn Ground. Full match commentary is available from West Ham TV.
2.30pm - Blackburn have made three changes to the side that beat Bolton last weekend. I'm told Michel Salgado is out with a knee injury and Phil Jones is out with a back problem. Benjani, I am informed, has been dropped.
2.25pm - Here come the West Ham players, led by Carlton Cole and Jack Collison. The fans who have taken their seats already give the Hammers a decent reception. It's a day to be courageous for the home team. They need to play with freedom, commitment and heart. They need to leave absolutely nothing on the pitch in their quest for a vital victory. Now is the time to stand up and be counted - to make themselves heroes. To be United.
2.10pm - Avram Grant makes three changes to the side beaten 2-1 at Manchester City last Sunday. At the back, Wayne Bridge and Manuel da Costa replace James Tomkins and Matthew Upson, with Danny Gabbidon moving to the centre of the defence. In midfield, Scott Parker's continued absence means Thomas Hitzlsperger will anchor behind Luis Boa Morte and Jonathan Spector. Up front, Robbie Keane makes way for Carlton Cole.
Jack Collison makes his return to the first-team squad after more than 14 months out with a serious knee injury. The Wales midfielder is on the bench and could make his first appearance since a 3-0 Premier League defeat at Manchester United on 23 February 2010.
2.05pm - The teams are in. West Ham's starting XI is Green, Jacobsen, Bridge, Gabbidon, Da Costa, Hitzlsperger, Spector, Boa Morte, Sears, Ba and Cole. Substitutes are Boffin, Tomkins, Kovac, Collison, Hines, Piquionne and Keane.
Blackburn Rovers' starting XI is Robinson, Givet, Samba, Emerton, N'Zonzi, J.Jones, Olsson, Pedersen, Hoilett, Diouf and Roberts. The visitors' substitutes are Bunn, Hanley, Andrews, Formica, Santa Cruz, Benjani and Rochina.
Welcome to the Boleyn Ground for this afternoon's potentially pivotal Barclays Premier League fixture between West Ham United and Blackburn Rovers. It is a muggy day in east London. Rain has fallen overnight and the grey clouds overhead suggest we might be in for another soaking later on.
On to the football and West Ham are in need of three points to boost their hopes of beating the drop. The Hammers go into today's game three points behind 17th-place Blackpool. However, a two-goal win today would lift West Ham out of the bottom three - albeit maybe only temporarily. Blackpool travel to Tottenham Hotspur in the tea-time kick-off, while Wigan Athletic travel to Aston Villa at 3pm and Wolverhampton Wanderers host West Bromwich Albion on Sunday lunchtime.
The omens for a home win are good, with Blackburn winless on their previous 15 visits to the Boleyn Ground - a run dating back to April 1994. Rovers have also conceded more goals away from home than any other Barclays Premier League side this season - 40. Blackburn have won just one of their previous eleven matches, but that victory did come last time out courtesy of a 1-0 home success against Bolton Wanderers. Blackburn have collected just one point from their previous seven away league matches.
Team news will be confirmed at just after 2pm. However, we already know that West Ham will be without Mark Noble (hernia), Junior Stanislas (hernia) and Peter Kurucz (knee). Blackburn will be missing captain Ryan Nelsen (knee) and midfielder Vince Grella (achilles).
The first place to see the West Ham United starting XI will be on the club's official Twitter page here.
West Ham United: Green, Jacobsen (Piquionne 64), Bridge, Gabbidon, Da Costa, Hitzlsperger, Spector, Boa Morte (Keane 55), Sears (Collison 64), Ba, Cole
Subs not used: Boffin, Tomkins, Kovac, Hines
Blackburn Rovers: Robinson, Givet, Samba, Emerton, N'Zonzi, J.Jones, Olsson, Pedersen, Hoilett (Andrews 69), Diouf, Roberts (Santa Cruz 69)
Subs: Bunn, Hanley, Formica, Benjani, Rochina