Hammers Lose Out To Owen Hat-trick

WEST Ham United went down 4-2 to Newcastle at Upton Park, a Michael Owen hat-trick earning the visitors a scoreline that did not do justice to the Hammers performance.

Newcastle led 2-1 at half-time, two goals from Owen, and a Nolberto Solano own goal for West Ham. Alan Shearer extended that advantage after half-time, but Hammers hit-back with a Marlon Harewood penalty before Owen added a fourth as a ragged West Ham United pushed for an equaliser.

After a fantastic midweek performance to win at Everton, it was no surprise that Pards kept with the same team that won 2-1 at Goodison Park.

For James Collins and Carl Fletcher there were Premier League debuts in front of the Upton Park crowd, while Hayden Mullins captained the side for the first time at the Boleyn Ground.

Kick-off for this game was delayed by 30 minutes because of a serious accident on the A13.

After three games on the road the Upton Park crowd had obviously missed their team, and made it known with a fantastic atmosphere greeting the players at kick-off.

On four minutes Carl Fletcher tested Shay Given for the first time with a low rasping drive, but it was just a minute later that Newcastle took the lead to shock Upton Park.

Tomas Repka lost possession in a dangerous area just inside the box, giving Michael Owen a clear route on goal. The England striker needed no second invitation, racing through and touching the ball beyond Roy Carroll and into the net to put the visitors 1-0 ahead.

Hammers looked to hit back, and in the lively Etherington they had a player who looked dangerous whenever he had the ball.

But it was actually a cross from striker Marlon Harewood that helped get Hammers back into the game, the goal coming courtesy of a second own goal going for West Ham in two games.

At the end of a crisp move also involving Yossi Benayoun and Bobby Zamora, Harewood worked the space for a low cross that was drilled into the penalty area.

Under pressure from Zamora just yards from his own goal-line, Newcastle defender Titus Bramble tried to clear, but all he could do was hit the ball straight into team-mate Nolberto Solano and it deflected past a helpless Shay Given to make it 1-1.

Approaching the half hour Hammers produced the move on the match so far. Harewood's industry won the ball back from Shola Ameobi and from there the ball was worked brilliantly across the pitch and into the Newcastle area, where Zamora took the ball outside Bramble and fired a low, left footed effort that Given did well to save with his feet.

Back on level terms Alan Pardew's men began to stamp their authority on the game, Anton Ferdinand testing Given's hands with a header from Paul Konchesky's free-kick.

But on 43 minutes Solano made up for his own-goal, supplying a pacy cross from the right that swung into the Hammers box for Owen to head powerfully past Carroll and send Newcastle in 2-1 up at half-time.

HT: 1-2

No changes on either side for the start of the second-half, but going behind so close to half-time had cearly rattled the Hammers.

Not Yossi Benayoun though, who ghosted through the Newcastle midfield on 51 minutes only to be hacked down by Amady Faye, a foul which provoked a minor skirmish on the edge of the D. Benayoun could not make the most of the free-kick though sending straight into the wall.

On 55 minutes Hayden Mullins' brilliant effort from all of 25 yards had the stretching Given well-beaten only to thump back off the post. Before that Harewood had used his strength to fashion an opening only to be denied by Given's foot.

Then it was Collins' turn, side-footing goalwards from the back post only to see his effort blocked on the line by a Newcastle defender.

Repka's deft touch deep on the right then set up Harewood to strike it on the angle from just inside the box, but his effort was deflected wide of Given's near post.

Just past the hour mark a clearly limping Benayoun was replaced by David Bellion, the former Sunderland player receiving less than a warm reception from the visiting Newcastle supporters.

But on 66 minutes they had more to cheer when Newcastle made it 3-1. This time Owen was the provider, his neat turn and through-ball releasing Shearer in the right channel and he fired low past Carroll to set Hammers the toughest of tasks to get something out of this game.

Hammers were certainly not about to give up though, throwing everything they had at Newcastle. It paid off on 73 minutes when Shola Ameobi inexplicably handled the ball in his own area challenging for a header.

Referee Phil Dowd pointed straight to the spot and it was left to Marlon Harewood to send Shay Given the wrong way and smash the ball home to make it 3-2.

West Ham were right back in the game. And with quarter of an hour to go Pards threw on Jeremie Aliadiere for Tomas Repka and switched Fletcher into a back three, as Hammers probed for an equaliser.

But it was at the other end were Hammers had to be alert with five minutes left, Owen heading down from substitute Lee Bowyer's cross only for Carroll to produce a magnificent one-handed save.

Pards' team were throwing everything at Newcastle, and this was another performance certainly not lacking in heart or spirit from the men in claret and blue.

Harewood's determined run to the by-line produced one final corner for the Hammers, one last chance for an equaliser. Every Hammers player was forward, every Newcastle man back. Even Roy Carroll was up, but the corner was cleared by the visitors' defence.

With Hammers charging forward it was bound to leave gaps at the back, and that's exactly what happened when possession fell to Faye on the right and he played in Owen in acers of space on the far side, and with Carroll out of position he side-footed into an empty net to seal a 4-2 defeat for West Ham United.

It was a scoreline that was tough on Alan Pardew's side and one that did not do justice to their performance in an entertaining clash at a chilly Upton Park.