BIRMINGHAM CITY v WEST HAM UNITED
MONDAY 26 DECEMBER 2011
FULL AUDIO AND TEXT COMMENTARY - WEST HAM TV
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West Ham retained their hold on second place after a spirited 1-1 draw at Birmingham City on Boxing Day. The Hammers were on top as early as the fourth minute through Carlton Cole but the home side battled back superbly and deserved their late equaliser through David Murphy. Big Sam, with all his injury problems, will welcome a point but will have to plan without the suspended George McCartney, Kevin Nolan and Julien Faubert at Derby County on New Year's Eve.
Full time - Birmingham 1-1 West Ham
95 mins - The Hammers play the ball back to Myhill. He punts forward but Bouba Diop heads clear.
94 mins - Big Sam is telling his men to use their heads. Bouba Diop is down and King sportingly rolls the ball out of play. There surely isn't much time left for the Hammers to have to hold on.
94 mins - Burke nearly gets in behind but the ball runs behind for a goal-kick.
93 mins - Burke shoots but the home man of the match's effort was tame.
92 mins - A great move down the right ends with an offside flag. O'Brien has been willing to get forward throughout but was just too quick there.
91 mins - Noble is muscled out of it down the left wing. Birmingham will throw everything at the Hammers now.
90 mins - We are into the last minute of the 90. We are playing FIVE added minutes.
89 mins - Potts sends in a low cross after neat play between Noble and Carew. No one was in there to get on the end of that. Up the other end and well done Bouba Diop. He foils another Blues surge.
88 mins - Big Sam will be telling his players to 'respect the point' right now. Birmingham want a winner.
87 mins - King battles along the right wing and crosses low but it is easy for Green to collect.
86 mins - Lansbury concedes possession and Birmingham break. This is a time for calm heads under fierce home pressure.
84 mins - Bouba Diop fires over with a half-chance from Nolan's knockback.
83 mins - Here comes Big Sam's final change. Freddie Sears is on for Faubert.
82 mins - So nearly a second for Birmingham. King's header is just tipped over by Green.
81 mins - GOAL! - It was coming. Burke's ball in causes havoc and Murphy is able to equalise.
81 mins - The Hammers just about clear the danger from Burke's corner but are forced to concede another one. The No7 is a real threat from these flag-kicks.
80 mins - Lovely play by Carew and Noble sees the Norway striker get a shooting chance. The effort was comfortable for Myhill. The home side counter and Burke wins a corner after good covering play by Potts.
79 mins - O'Brien makes a good saving header at the back but the Blues keep on coming.
78 mins - Another yellow card, this time for McCartney for time-wasting over the free-kick and he too will miss the Derby date. Noble then goes in the book as well for complaining about it.
78 mins - Nolan is fouled by Fahey. Time for a breather!
77 mins - Tomkins makes a superb tackle. The Hammers are standing firm.
76 mins - Bouba Diop makes another good block in midfield.
75 mins - As you would expect Carew is getting an earful for his Aston Villa connection. Murphy fires in a free-kick. Green misses the ball and eventually the Hammers manage to see out the danger thanks to Potts, despite a Tomkins up and under clearance that looped goalwards. Nolan is unhappy as he felt the keeper was fouled in the first phase of that move.
74 mins - Cole is coming off to be replaced by Carew.
73 mins - N'Daw shoots from distance but Green saves with relative ease. It came after Burke got past Potts and Bouba Diop. The No7 is a handful.
72 mins - John Carew is coming on shortly.
71 mins - Lansbury and McCartney get in a muddle before eventually getting the ball away. The Hammers are having to stand firm under real pressure here.
70 mins - Now Faubert misses the next game for a foul on Caldwell. That's two suspensions suffered this evening. Beausejour is going off to be replaced by the pacy Nathan Redmond, a starlet from the Blues academy.
69 mins - Spector is penalised for handball out wide. Noble fires the free-kick into the area but it misses everyone and runs behind.
68 mins - O'Brien wins a contentious decision. He seemed to pull down Beausejour but the referee saw it the other way.
67 mins - Zigic heads over after Birmingham poured forward in numbers. Tomkins had done well to stop a surge by Murphy but the Blues came back before the lofted pass to the big striker at the back post.
66 mins - Cole chases down a ball and in the process brings down Ibanez. He gets a talking-to, but no card, from the referee.
65 mins - Cole wins the header from Noble's corner but cannot get any power on the lofted set-piece.
64 mins - There are 20,214 fans here today. Nearly 1,400 are Hammers fans. Lansbury sends in a piledriver that Myhill saves but Faubert has his back to goal and can't see the ball is there to be struck goalwards.
63 mins - The manager will have to reshuffle at Pride Park without his captain but all that matters right now is preserving the one-goal lead. He may well have numbers back for the weekend to help his cause.
62 mins - Another corner after Lansbury heads behind. Burke takes and picks out Caldwell who heads for goal. Bouba Diop clears high into the air and then Green is fouled trying to punch it away.
61 mins - Nolan is penalised for a foul in midfield and earns a yellow card. He will miss the New Year's Eve game at Derby this Saturday.
60 mins - Bouba Diop slows the play down and then wins a foul. The Hammers will need his experience in the final 30 minutes.
59 mins - The Blues fans are singing 'Who are ya?' to the England Under-21 captain. Lansbury has gone wide left, in the position Piquionne was playing.
58 mins - Zigic meets the corner but heads over. Piquionne is going off to be replaced by Henri Lansbury.
58 mins - Burke picks out King at the back post and he shoots, only for Nolan to get a block on it. Burke comes to the other side to take another corner.
57 mins - Well done O'Brien. He just prevents Beausejour from crossing, although could not avoid the corner.
56 mins - Wood is coming off to be replaced by Nikola Zigic, the towering striker. Big Sam is deep in discussion with his coaches about that move.
55 mins - Piquionne again gives the ball away. The Hammers are under siege here until Fahey shoots low and wide.
54 mins - Piquionne loses the ball and Birmingham break again. Fahey shoots but it is blocked. The game has sparked into life once more.
53 mins - That was close. Burke fires just wide after being set free by Guirane N'Daw. The Hammers then broke and Piquionne was clean through only to go over without making a decent connection. Up the other end, and O'Brien just foils the Blues as they threatened to get a shooting chance on Green.
52 mins - Birmingham nearly break but an over-hit pass in midfield draws frustrated jeers from the crowd. The Hammers' supporters are giving it full whack, with Bubbles ringing out around the ground once again.
51 mins - It is a fairly sedate start compared to the first half. That will suit the visitors better, no doubt about that.
50 mins - Potts chips one forward. Ibanez heads for a throw-in. The Hammers are trying to work something down the left but Spector snuffs out the danger as Piquionne tried to twist and turn.
49 mins - Ibanez is off the pitch as play resumes. He looks like he will be OK to continue though.
48 mins - Potts plays the ball into the Birmingham area. Nothing comes of it, except a home defender is down needing treatment. It looks like Ibanez, who collided with Myhill.
47 mins - Bouba Diop continues where he left off with a firm tackle to win the ball. He will need to do that relentlessly this half to protect the back four. Birmingham will keep pushing hard for an equaliser.
46 mins - Nolan and Nolan get us under way again.
Half-time - Birmingham 0-1 West Ham
45 mins - So nearly 2-0. Cole takes the ball neatly from Faubert's inside pass after another good spell of possession. The No9 spins his marker and shoots for goal, only for Myhill to get a hand to it. Noble's first corner is then headed back behind. The second corner sees Tomkins head over and there goes the referee's whistle.
45 mins - Burke takes the corner but Green claims. We are playing one minute of added time.
45 mins - Into the last minute of the half. It has been breathless stuff but the Hammers are hoping to hold on. Chris Wood wins a corner so it will be a nervy finish.
44 mins - Another foul against Faubert. He has to be careful. A yellow card would mean he misses out against Derby on New Year's Eve.
43 mins - Cole is trying to finish the half as he started it by running at the home defence. Birmingham break quickly and surge forward in numbers. Bouba Diop is there to win the ball, though. Great tackle.
42 mins - Another foul is given against Faubert for jumping in as Ibanez tried to head clear. The No18 has been tireless in trying to make life uncomfortable for the Blues' back four.
41 mins - Well done Cole. He comes out to win the ball well after Burke and Beasejour work a good short-corner routine. Another corner comes in and this time Bouba Diop heads clear well.
39 mins - McCartney concedes a throw after a Blues ball forward. The Hammers have to try and get to half-time level. A lofted ball into the box is palmed behind Green. He conceded the corner rather than try to catch with Birmingham attackers in close attendance.
38 mins - West Ham are trying to regain some of the initiative. They have not looked as in control as they did in the first 15 minutes of the match in the last 15 minutes or so.
37 mins - O'Neil is warming up below us. Meanwhile, Tomkins clears another ball into Hammers territory. He has been excellent this half.
36 mins - Noble finds Faubert. The Frenchman controls well and then turns into the middle. He feeds Cole but the striker just fails to collect and the ball runs through to Myhill.
35 mins - As if to illustrate the point, Jean Beausejour races down the left and crosses low. Green was there again but it was a decent ball in.
34 mins - Referee Darren Deadman gives Cole a talking-to. The No9 complained about being penalised for a foul. West Ham just can't keep the ball at the moment.
33 mins - Keith Fahey tries his luck from 25 yards. The shot was true but it was straight at Green and he made the save look easy.
32 mins - Faubert punts the ball upfield to give the back four some respite. Birmingham are enjoying their best spell of the half here and look dangerous.
31 mins - Now Cole is penalised for a foul on Murphy, giving the Blues another chance to test the Hammers defence. Burke takes but Nolan heads clear from the edge of the box.
29 mins - What a save! Green flings himself to his left and palms away David Murphy's superb free-kick. That looked in all the way until the England man got across superbly.
28 mins - Tomkins wins the ball with a despairing tackle but is penalised by the referee. BIrmingham have a free-kick 25 yards out.
28 mins - Piquionne meets the corner and heads for goal but it is headed off the line. The ball comes back to Tomkins and he sends it goalwards with his head before the Hammers are penalised for a foul.
27 mins - Faubert should score! He meets a great cross with his head but the defender just gets a touch to send it behind for a corner.
26 mins - Green gets the ball again from a hopeful Birmingham punt forward.
25 mins - Green races out to collect a sliced Bouba Diop connection. Well done the No1. Up the other end we go and, quick as a flash, Faubert wins a corner. Noble takes it but the lofted ball is comfortably collected by Myhill.
24 mins - Howls of derision from the St Andrews crowd. They thought they had won a corner as Bouba Diop appeared to glance the ball behind. The referee gave a goal-kick. Up the other end and the Hammers have a penalty shout when Nolan goes over in the box. It did look like Blues captain Steven Caldwell had put his arm on his opposite number.
23 mins - Piquionne is penalised by handball. We are halfway through the first half and it has flown by. Birmingham had only conceded four goals at home before today so it is no mean feat that the Hammers are in front.
22 mins - Tomkins does superbly to clear as Birmingham tried to force their way into Hammers' territory. A hopeful second ball forward is then comfortably claimed by Green.
21 mins - More good play from the Hammers finishes when Piquionne tries to burst through. The Frenchman just could not get past the last defender. It all came from a slide-rule Nolan pass from midfield.
19 mins - Well played West Ham. Noble splits the defence to pick out Faubert but the cross is batted away by a defender. Birmingham can get some respite but the Hammers are pushing hard.
18 mins - So close again. Potts fizzes one across and it just eludes Nolan, Cole and Faubert. The skipper gives the young defender the thumbs-up for that cross.
18 mins - They just cannot handle him. Cole turns and beats three men before winning a throw deep in Birmingham territory.
17 mins - Uproar from the home fans who think Noble has won a cheap free-kick in front of his own area. The Hammers can clear.
16 mins - The Hammers' latest counter ends with Potts receiving the ball in an advanced position on the left wing. The youngster looks up to see men in the box but the ball is over-hit and runs behind.
15 mins - Burke flicks on for Marlon King but the No9 is crowded out superbly, with Noble eventually getting the ball away. The Hammers break through Faubert but his cross only finds a defender. Birmingham counter and Burke gets a chance to shoot. This time Tomkins is there to block. It is end to end stuff.
14 mins - Cole is giving the home defence a torrid time. He is winning everything and leading the line superbly.
13 mins - Cole is not the only Hammers scorer today. Cristian Montano hit two for Dagenham & Redbridge and made the other in a 3-0 win against Barnet.
12 mins - Green comfortably claims a long free-kick into the box. The ball goes forward to Cole, who wins the flick in and puts Noble in. The No16's first touch is a little heavy and the ball runs through to Myhill.
11 mins - Dan Potts is looking at home out there again. There was a nervy backpass in the opening stages to Green but so far, so good from the 17-year-old at left-back.
9 mins - Bouba Diop is on top in midfield. Two good moments in quick succession, one a clearance and the other a good pass help the Hammers wrest control. The away fans are singing for Cole as usual.
7 mins - Rob Green tries to clear to Joey O'Brien but the Irishman cannot keep it in play. Green is more certain 30 seconds later when thumping clear. West Ham have sat back a little since going in front.
5 mins - Cole now has eight for the season. It was a great finish and the perfect start for the Hammers. The home fans have tried to raise the volume since the goal by singing about the Carling Cup final last season but the away supporters only care about the here and now.
4 mins - GOAL! - Carlton Cole pounces on a mistake by Pablo Ibanez. The No9 surges forward and blasts into the corner of the net. Boaz Myhill didn't have a chance. Great finish from the striker who loves playing against the Blues.
3 mins - So close. A great run by Papa Bouba Diop through central midfield saw him find Faubert out to the right. The Frenchman made space and then fizzes a low cross right across goal that just eluded Kevin Nolan.
2 mins - James Tomkins and Julien Faubert combine to clear as Chris Burke tries to get free in the box. Burke then gets a half-chance with a header but cannot direct it on target.
1 min - The Hammers are kicking to our right as we look from the press box, towards the away fans. A long ball forward is immediately headed clear by George McCartney, again back in at centre-back alongside James Tomkins.
5.26pm - Here come the teams. West Ham are led out as usual by Kevin Nolan, who has not missed a minute this campaign. Rob Green, just behind, is with young mascot George, who met the manager and the players in the dressing room before the game. Nolan, Julien Faubert and Henri Lansbury are all one yellow card away from a one-game ban, and need to get through the next 90 minutes and then the game at Derby without a caution to avoid suspension.
5.24pm - The Hammers have dropped to third in the table with Middlesbrough's 1-0 win at home to Hull City, while leaders Southampton have also won at home to Crystal Palace. 'No matter', said the manager, who also told Sky Sports that his men just have to focus on their own targets.
5.21pm - The players are back in the dressing room. Jon Spector was having a good chat with several of the Hammers contingent, who then were promptly soaked by two sprinklers left on in the West Ham half. The 1,300 or so away fans have been in good voice as you would expect.
5pm - Kick-off is just 30 minutes away. Gary O'Neil is out with the rest of the team warming up, a tremendous sight after eight months out with a serious ankle injury. He has come through three development squad matches and has impressed the coaching staff with his determination to get back. The manager has picked Dan Potts again at left-back with his options limited, although there is hope Winston Reid, Abdoulaye Faye and Sam Baldock could all return for the New Year's Eve game at Derby County.
Birmingham City: Myhill, Murphy, Caldwell, Ibanez, Burke, N'Daw, King, Beausejour, Fahey, Spector, Wood
Subs: Doyle, Ridgewell, Mutch, Zigic, Redmond
West Ham United: Green, O'Brien, Tomkins, McCartney, Potts, Noble, Diop, Nolan, Faubert, Cole, Piquionne
Subs: Boffin, O'Neil, Sears, Lansbury, Carew
Welcome to St Andrews for this evening's npower Championship encounter between Birmingham City and West Ham United. Sam Allardyce had a number of selection issues when departing east London last night. As such, the manager included the untried Callum Driver and Robert Hall in his travelling party as well as Gary O'Neil for the first time since April after he came through three development squad matches.
Chris Hughton, a former Hammers defender, has headaches of his own, with Curtis Davies suspended and Jean Beausejour injured. Birmingham have had a mixed first half to the season, with their UEFA Europa League commitments taking their toll. The Hammers are riding high in second but need to avoid a repeat of their last awayday at Reading. The 3-0 defeat was at odds with their impressive record over the whole campaign which is unrivalled in the division.
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