Hammers Suffer First Defeat Against Bolton

HAMMERS have lost their first game of the season in the Premier League, going down 2-1 at Upton Park to Bolton Wanderers despite a late fight-back.

Second-half strikes from Kevin Nolan and Ivan Campo ultimately wrapped up the points for the visitors, and their first win at the Boleyn Ground since 1964, but a late penalty from Teddy Sheringham made for some tense closing moments.

Hammers were far from out played by the team that finished sixth in the Premier League last season though, and will take more positives from their strong performance even if they failed to earn any points.

Indeed, some of West Ham United's play in the first-half was excellent and they created several clear-cut chances that on another day might have seen them take something from the game.

Pards kept with the same side that did so well to earn a 0-0 draw at Newcastle last week, Paul Konchesky available after his red card was rescinded and Teddy Sheringham overcoming the dead leg that forced him off at St James' Park.

On the bench, Pards went for the height of Elliott Ward to combat Bolton's threat at set-pieces and included new signing Jeremie Aliadiere for the first time. Shaun Newton and Mark Noble were the unlucky players who miss out.

Bolton had Japan international Hidetoshi Nakata on the bench, and included Israel international defender Tal Ben Haim, who came face to face with compatriot Yossi Benayoun this afternoon. 

The pre-match atmosphere was once again electric at the Boleyn Ground, with the Hammers faithful in terrific voice to cheer on Alan Pardew's men.

West Ham were quick out of the blocks as well, Nigel Reo-Coker firing in the first shot after barely 30 seconds, which he dragged well wide.

With five minutes on the clock Hayden Mullins struck a much better effort from similar distance, but the head of a brave Bolton defender blocked the ball's route to goal.

Moments later though Bolton showed their well-renowned threat from set-pieces as Kevin Davies flick-on from a free-kick dipped just wide of Roy Carroll's goal.

With 12 minutes gone Yossi Benayoun had Hammers best chance so far. It was all of his own making as a sharp cut inside Kevin Nolan and a curling left-foot effort from the edge of the six yard box brought an acrobatic save out of Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Two minutes later that chance was bettered by the one Marlon Harewood put over the bar just four yards out. Matty Etherington flighted over an inch perfect cross, Harewood got in front of his marker but hoisted his effort over Jaaskelainen and the Bolton crossbar.

Hammers worked the Bolton defence hard in the opening 20 minutes, Benayoun probing and showing some quick foot-work when cutting in from the right. At the other end, Anton Ferdinand was commanding in the air against Davies.

On the half hour mark Stelios headed over from Jay Jay Okocha's deflected cross, while moments later Benayoun went much closer to breaking the deadlocked with a headed effort of his own. Tomas Repka was given time and space to pick out the diminutive Israel star on the penalty spot, but his header went straight into the hands of Jaaskelainen.

With 10 minutes to go until half-time Hammers launched a barrage of attacks at the Bolton goal. First Gary Speed had to head away from Mullins at the back post after Sheringham's flighted cross and then Danny Gabbidon's back flick from Benayoun's rasping drive was brilliantly pushed away by Jaaskelainen.

In only his second game at Upton Park Benayoun was everywhere. Showing tenacity as well as plenty of ability.the Israeli international was behind almost every West Ham attack.

In the final minute of the half Hammers should have taken the lead, but Harewood blazed a volley over from 12 yards out.

At the back, Hammers did not look like giving an inch to the muscular Bolton attack, although Konchesky was forced to clear a spinning header off the line as the half ended with the teams locked at 0-0

HT: 0-0

Hammers started the second-half with the same intent that they had showed in the first. Benayoun was again at the heart of the action, his intelligent reverse pass just failing to find Harewood.

With six minutes of the second-half gone the unpopular El-Hadji Diouf was booked for kicking the ball away and was promptly substituted for Ivan Campo.

On 58 minutes Campo very nearly gave Bolton the lead when he hit a wonder strike from fully 30 yards that Carroll did well to touch against the crossbar.

Hammers responded instantly when Harewood turned away from his marker and powered a shot that flew just over Jaaskelainen's crossbar.

Just moments later though a scrambled goal gave Bolton a lead that was harsh on the impressive Hammers. From a corner Benayoun cleared a thunderous shot off the line, but as the ball was played in Kevin Nolan stole a march on his marker and prodded the ball home from close range to give the visitors the lead.

The reaction of the Upton Park faithful was magnificent as they roared encouragement to Alan Pardew's men.

Pards responded by introducing Jeremie Aliadiere for his claret and blue debut in place of Matty Etherington, who was quickly followed by Bobby Zamora in place of Marlon Harewood.

On 72 minutes Benayoun's chipped pass released Zamora and he crossed for Sheringham, but the former England star could only fire wide under pressure from Bruno N'Gotty.

Aliadiere was also looking lively and he showed blistering pace when he burst off of the right, cut inside and drew a cynical challenge from Gary Speed.

The resulting free-kick was hit with the magical right-foot of Teddy Sheringham and his curling effort from 25 yards left Jaaskelainen clutching at thin air, but struck the under-side of the bar before bouncing out.

Hammers were piling on the pressure. Sheringham had another free-kick moments later, but this time he couldn't quite find the right connection and it slammed harmlessly into the wall.

Jaaskelainen then clawed Sheringham's cross away from Zamora's head before Nigel Reo-Coker drilled a low shot from the edge of the area that the Bolton goalkeeper did well to push around the post down low to his left.

On 83 minutes Elliott Ward replaced Danny Gabbidon at centre-half to give Hammers more power in the air.

But Alan Pardew's men were just pushing too hard. And with six minutes remaining Bolton hit them on the break to all but confirm Hammers first defeat of the season.

Okocha played the ball through, splitting West Ham's defence, and Campo raced in to side-foot past Carroll and make it 2-0.

Three minutes later Konchesky brought the best out of Jaaskelainen with a brilliantly struck drive from all of 30 yards that the goalkeeper flew through the air to palm away from the top corner.

A minute later and Hammers were thrown the slimest of lifelines when Nicky Hunt made a clumsy challenge on Mullins and Phil Dowd pointed to the spot. Up stepped Teddy Sheringham to send Jaaskelainen the wrong way and make it 2-1.

Upton Park roared the Hammers on, but despite three frantic minutes of injury time Alan Pardew's men could not find a way through and Bolton held on for a 2-1 win that flattered the visitors.