Hammers v Manchester City

2006 ended in huge disappointment for West Ham United as they suffered a 1-0 defeat against fellow Premiership strugglers at Manchester City at Upton Park.

Despite dominating proceedings against Stuart Pearce's men - who didn't produce a notable effort on goal until midway through the second half - Hammers couldn't find a way through and were left stunned by an 83rd minute winner from substitute Da Marcus Beasley.

The result leaves Alan Curbishley's men still dangerously rooted to 18th place in the table, now just two points in front of nearest rivals Charlton Athletic, who snatched a last-minute winner against Aston Villa earlier in the day.

Following the Boxing Day defeat against Portsmouth, the Hammers boss made three changes to his starting line-up, two of which were enforced. With Paul Konchesky and Nigel Reo-Coker serving one-match suspensions, Lee Bowyer stepped into the centre of midfield while Jonathan Spector switched to left-back after Konchesky's original replacement, George McCartney, was taken ill on the morning of the game.

That meant Christian Dailly filling in at right-back while, in attack, Teddy Sheringham came in for Bobby Zamora and took the captain's armband at the same time. On the bench, Carlton Cole and Tyrone Mears were both recalled by Curbs, while young midfielder Mark Noble was also named in the 16 for the first time this season.

In a fairly quiet and laboured opening to the game, Hammers enjoyed plenty of possession but were unable to turn it into goalscoring opportunities. Mullins and Bowyer both tested Nicky Weaver with efforts from outside the penalty area, but the City goalkeeper and his defenders were otherwise untroubled.

However, Hammers began to raise the tempo as the half wore on, and Sheringham went close seven minutes before the break with a long-range effort that was deflected wide for a corner, before wasting a good chance moments later when he fired Benayoun's low corner wide of the target.

The second half began in much the same fashion, with Hammers enjoying the lion's share of possession and City content to sit back and defend in the hope of catching their opponents cold on the counter-attack.

However, with a swirling wind and torrential rain making conditions extremely difficult, Hammers struggled to find any fluency in their attacking play. Sheringham sent a couple of 25-yard free-kicks high and wide of the target, before Curbs added a new dimension to his front line in the 56th minute, introducing Carlos Tevez as a substitute in place of Etherington.

The diminutive Argentinean immediately lifted the atmosphere with his fiery, direct style, and Hammers went close to opening the scoring minutes later when Benayoun slipped the ball to Mullins, whose low 20-yarder whistled just inches past the post.

City finally managed their first worthwhile effort of the game in the 70th minute - a Darius Vassell shot that was comfortably held by Rob Green - but as the game approached its closing stages, only Hammers looked like being the team to snatch all three points.

Carlton Cole made his first appearance since November 11 as a substitute for Sheringham and, with 13 minutes remaining, Tevez almost provided the breakthrough as he collected a return pass from Benayoun and sent a stinging 20-yard shot flying just over the bar.

It looked as though the hosts would have to settle for point but, with just seven minutes remaining, disaster struck, as substitute Beasley somehow wriggled his way between Gabbidon and Spector before beating Green with an assured right-foot finish.

As the travelling City faithful celebrated ecstatically, the rest of the stadium was left stunned into silence, and Curbishley's shell-shocked players tried desperately to rouse themselves for a late rescue act.

Tevez again almost produced the inspiration with two minutes left, but his shot was blocked and Harewood dragged the follow-up wide, to leave Hammers facing their second home defeat in the space of five days, with a tough trip to Reading to come on New Year's Day.