Hammers Beaten By Blades

WEST Ham United have gone down 2-0 to Sheffield United at Upton Park, goals from Derek Geary in the first-half and Leigh Bromby after the break sealing defeat.

It was only the third time the Hammers have lost at the Boleyn Ground this season, but the disappointment was obvious after Saturday's 2-0 win at league leaders Ipswich.
Alan Pardew named the same side that won so well at Portman Road, Teddy Sheringham(ankle) and Steve Lomas(calf) missing out for the second game in a row.

Luke Chadwick shook off a bout of flu to take his place on the bench, while Chris Cohen was among the substitutes in place of Trent McClenahan.

The match began at a tepid pace, both sides showing weariness from busy holiday schedules.

Sheffield United looked the more dangerous in the early stages and had the game's first genuine effort on goal when Hayden Mullins conceded possession to former Hammer John Harley 18 yards out. He laid the ball back to Michael Tonge, but the midfielder dragged his shot harmlessly wide.

The Blades were looking for their first win at Upton Park since 1974, and enjoyed the better of the goalmouth action without really creating any clear cut openings.

Andy Liddell's half volley from Andy Gray's knock down on 27 minutes caused more flinching in the Bobby Moore Lower than it did in West Ham's penalty area, as the Blades looked to unsettle the home defence with a series of aerial assaults.

Bobby Zamora just failed to connect with Matty Etherington's corner, but against a stern Blades defence the Hammers found it hard to test visitors' goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.

Indeed, with Neil Warnock's side employing some of the most negative tactics seen at Upton Park in recent times it was little surprise that chances were scarce.
But just when it looked as though the half would end goalless, Sheffield United scored.

Jon Harley fed Derek Geary and his shot was deflected past Bywater off the unfortunate Tomas Repka to send the Blades in 1-0 up at the break.

HT: 0-1

Pards made two changes at the start of the second-half, Sergei Rebrov and Luke Chadwick replacing Bobby Zamora and Matty Etherington.

The substitutions instilled more confidence into the Hammers. Keeping the ball better and showing more drive going forward, Marlon Harewood shot over and Carl Fletcher dragged his long-range effort wide.

But the West Ham fight-back was halted in dramatic fashion after 59 minutes when defender Leigh Bromby struck a decisive second for the Blades.

Andy Liddell swung in a corner from the right and Malky Mackay's headed clearance dropped to Bromby on the edge of the box, who dispatched a dipping drive beyond the outstretched Bywater.

The goal failed to dampen West Ham's determination, though. Sergei Rebrov twisted away from a defender before unleashing a skimming shot that crept just wide and Luke Chadwick surged into the box only to see his cross diverted away from danger by Bromby.

With Sheffield United content to sit deep in their own half, Alan Pardew's men began to pile on the pressure, yet continued to be thwarted by a solid Blades backline.

Academy graduate Chris Cohen was introduced as an extra midfielder after 78 minutes, with Malky Mackay making way, but Neil Warnock's side remained resolute.

Substitutes Rebrov and Chadwick continued to carry the most threat for West Ham but, like the majority of the 27,424 fans inside Upton Park, the home side were frustrated as their attacking build ups were disrupted by the team with the best away record in the Championship.

Nigel Reo-Coker had a stinging drive blocked late on and the rebound almost rolled very kindly for the Hammers, but Luke Chadwick failed to force the ball over the line as Bromby cleared the danger.

Despite being encouraged by four minutes of added time, the Hammers could not find a way back into the match and it ended 2-0 to Sheffield United.