West Ham United v Birmingham City
Barclays Premier League
Wednesday 10 February 2010
Referee: Mike Dean
Final score - West Ham United 2-0 Birmingham City
94 mins - Referee Dean blows for full-time, and West Ham's fifth league win of the season is met with a loud cheer. The fans continue their celebrations by singing along with 'Bubbles'. Get in there!
93 mins - Surely we're nearly out of time here. West Ham will go into their ten-day break in high spirits ahead of a home game with Hull, who look like losing at Blackburn tonight.
91 mins - We're going to have three minutes of added time, at least.
90 mins - Behrami brings down McFadden a couple of yards outside the penalty area. Gardner stands over the free-kick. He finally allows McFadden to take it short, then nearly slips over before slicing his shot into the visiting fans huddled behind Green's goal. That was not very impressive.
89 mins - Less than two minutes of the 90 to go, and Birmingham are throwing more bodies forward in search of a late comeback, but nothing is happening for the visitors. Gardner proves my point by lashing his cross behind Green's goal.
86 mins - Mark Noble is going to get a run out in place of Scott Parker. The Hammer of the Year gets a very decent reception on his way off. He looks knackered!
84 mins - Carlton Cole is voted man of the match, which is fitting reward for his eighth goal of the season.
83 mins - Scott Dann must hate playing at the Boleyn Ground and, in particular, the sight of Alessandro Diamanti. The Italian marked his debut against Birmingham's reserves with two direct free-kick goals back in September. Dann played that night in a game that ended 6-0 to the home side. Tonight, the former Coventry City man was the culprit, fouling Parker to give away the set piece that led to Diamanti's goal.
81 mins - Into the final ten minutes and, as things stand, West Ham will rise to 14th ahead of the home game with Hull City a week on Saturday. There is a huge motivation for the home side to maintain this advantage.
77 mins - A second change for Birmingham. The Spaniard Michel comes on for Bowyer, who applauds all four sides of the ground on his way off.
75 mins - Ahem. The less said about that the better. Faubert gallops on to Ilan's pass and gets past Ridgewell, only to slam his cross straight into the Bobby Moore Stand.
73 mins - Behrami romps forward again. He has been like the Energizer bunny tonight. Unfortunately, his shot does not match his run and the ball is gathered by Hart. Birmingham break and Upson does well no less than three times to clear dangerous crosses into the penalty area.
70 mins - The home crowd are in full voice and sensing a first home win since Boxing Day. Don't forget that Birmingham have lost just one of their last 18 games in all competitions, though.
67 mins - GOAL! That wasn't what McLeish would have wanted from his substitution. Behrami holds off McFadden and finds the over-lapping Faubert. The Frenchman crosses low and hard and Cole helps the ball over the line at the far post.
67 mins - McLeish responds by sending on Scot James McFadden for Fahey.
66 mins - That will be Mido's last contribution as he is withdrawn to a generous reception. Ilian gets an even louder cheer as he takes to the Boleyn Ground pitch for the first time.
65 mins - We are going to see Ilan soon. If the Brazilian could repeat the trick from Burnley, he may well put this game to bed! Before then, Mido has a great chance to play in Cole, but he shoots instead and the ball is easily gathered by Hart.
63 mins - Gardner's free-kick is headed back at the far post and Tomkins clears. Behrami closes down Stephen Carr and the Irishman is forced to play the ball all the way back to goalkeeper Hart.
62 mins - A yellow card for Upson for a lunging challenge on Gardner. This is dangerous in the extreme, being just on the corner of the box wide on the right. Gardner will take...
60 mins - If you thought Diamanti's free-kick was special, that would have been ridiculous. Cole does brilliantly to reach Parker's through ball. He lays the ball back to Diamanti, but the Italian smashes his first-time shot miles over the top. The fans are encouraged, though, and the Sir Trevor Brooking Lower breaks into a tune in tribute to the manager. Zola replies with a wave to his admirers.
57 mins - Kovac holds off Ferguson well before Mido hammers the ball against the Scot and it ricochets out for a throw-in. Diamanti curls the ball in and, after a spell of head tennis, Birmingham clear.
55 mins - Tomkins takes a shot time out to tend to a minor knock to his ankle, but he is soon back up on his feet. Gardner curls the ball into the box and Green punches clear. Birmingham then win a corner, and Mido heads clear at the near post.
54 mins - Diamanti gets forward well and shoots from about 30 yards. Unfortunately, the ball skips through into the arms of Hart.
52 mins - Behrami picks the ball up on the edge of his own box and brings it forward to the halfway line. He swaps passes with Mido and tries to find Cole, but his chipped effort is intercepted by Dann's chest.
49 mins - The Blues have come out marginally the better after their cup of tea and orange slices. Just as I type that, Behrami wins the ball back deep inside the Birmingham half, but his pass is too strong for Mido.
46 mins - West Ham get the second 45 minutes underway. Parker fouls Ferguson midway inside his own half, and Birmingham have an early chance. Jerome completely loses his marker from Gardner's free-kick, but Green is out superbly to dive at the forward's feet and claim the ball.
Here come the two teams for the second half. West Ham will want a second goal early in this period to calm any nerves. A change for the Hammers at the break, with Jonathan Spector replacing Ilunga.
Half-time score - West Ham United 1-0 Birmingham City
47 mins - Birmingham kick-off and referee Dean blows for half-time. Fantastic end to the opening 45 minutes for the Hammers as Diamanti nets his seventh goal of the season.
46 mins - GOAL! Get in there! Diamanti curls the free-kick into the top corner and races straight over to manager Zola on the touchline. What a strike!
46 mins - Scott Dann brings down namesake Parker a couple of yards outside the penalty area and is booked. Diamanti lines up the set piece as we enter the one and only minute of added time.
44 mins - Bowyer finds Gardner wide on the right and crosses, but his ball in is inches too far in front of the sliding Jerome.
42 mins - Diamanti turns Bowyer on the right touchline and is felled as he gets away from the former Hammer. Bowyer doesn't like the decision, but referee Dean shows him a yellow card.
41 mins - Cole finds Faubert wide on the right. The Frenchman crosses from deep, but it is too far in front of Mido and bounces out for a goal kick.
38 mins - West Ham struggle to clear their lines and the ball falls to Phillips, who forces Green into a fingertip save. The corner sees Green fouled by Johnson.
35 mins - A talking to for Gardner. Ilunga attempted to play a one-two with Diamanti and was blocked off by Gardner. Foul, but no yellow card.
34 mins - Cole goes close again. Diamanti is again the provider, crossing low from the left. Cole controls and shoots powerfully, but his shot is blocked by the sliding Dann. Birmingham counter-attack and Jerome launches a shot into orbit.
32 mins - Delicious play from Cole, who picks up a pass from Diamanti and holds off Scott Dann before flashing a drive past Hart's far post. Good play from the England man.
29 mins - Jerome comes within a couple of yards of opening the scoring after a slick move involving Bowyer and Phillips. Thankfully, the ex-Cardiff City man could only drag his shot wide of the left-hand post.
25 mins - Hmmm... A bit of a let-off there. Jerome looked offside but got clear inside the box. His cross was half-cleared and found its way to Carr, who skipped past Diamanti and crossed low. Green palmed the ball into the middle of the penalty area where Parker eventually completed the clearance. Seconds later, Diamanti gets free down the left and stings Hart's palms with a rising shot from 25 yards. The ensuing corner comes to nothing.
24 mins - Behrami drives forward again and finds Mido, who skips past Ridgewell. Behrami continues his run into the box and joins Cole, but Mido's cross takes a slight deflection and rolls through to Hart.
22 mins - Another corner for the Blues, this time as Tomkins slices the ball behind. Gardner takes and Green acrobatically palms the ball clear.
20 mins - Jerome wins a corner off Upson. Birmingham take it short and eventually waste the chance when Gardner's cross skips through to Green.
19 mins - Cole spins and sends Mido clear with a super pass. Mido controls and his shot is too close to Hart from the corner of the penalty area. Shame, that.
18 mins - Brilliant goalkeeping from Hart there. Parker wins the ball in midfield and swaps passes with Cole. Carr nips in and lofts the ball goalward, and Hart shows fine reactions to control the ball on his chest and coolly lob the ball clear. Very good.
16 mins - Diamanti is on fire here, curling another delicious cross into the six-yard box, which the visitors can only hack out for a throw-in.
15 mins - Mido is penalised for a foul on Ferguson inside the centre circle. Birmingham send all their big men forward. Johnson wins the header but it bounces through to Green.
13 mins - Diamanti is downed again, this time after tricking his way past Gardner. The Italian has made a strong start to the game on his return to the starting XI. The resulting free-kick comes to nothing.
12 mins - Tomkins works Hart with a low shot from 25 yards. That was on target from the England U21 defender. The chance was created by Parker after Diamanti's corner had been cleared to him outside the penalty area.
11 mins - Mido and Parker combine well just outside the penalty area, but the latter's cross eludes everyone and skips out for a goal kick. 30 seconds later, Diamanti romps down the left and wins a corner off Gardner.
10 mins - Diamanti tricks his way past Carr and the Irishman brings him down with an arm. No booking for Carr, but a free-kick 35 yards from goal.
8 mins - Good football there from West Ham. Behrami makes a driving run through the midfield and finds Cole, who instantly spreads play wide to Faubert. The full-back takes a touch and curls the ball into the penalty area. Mido makes contact, but can only flash his header wide of the far post. The crowd react with a chorus of 'Come on you Irons',
6 mins - Gardner latches on to a long, raking pass from Fahey, and heads goalwards, but it is easy for Green. Ilunga will have to watch the former Aston Villa man, who scored the winner against the Hammers at Villa Park a couple of seasons ago.
5 mins - Gardner takes the flag-kick and Upson heads clear of the penalty area.
4 mins - Behrami and Faubert combine down the right flank, but the Swiss midfielder's pass is just too strong and the ball rolls through to Hart. Birmingham break straight up the other end and win the game's first corner. The ball falls to Bowyer, who finds Phillips, who wins a second corner.
3 mins - Cole latches on to Diamanti's through ball and is flagged for offside. He was through on goal there, and replays show he was at least a yard onside.
2 mins - Mido has his first chance at the Boleyn Ground, heading Matthew Upson's headed pass goalwards, but the ball is safely gathered by Joe Hart. The chance was created by Diamanti's deep cross.
1 min - Birmingham get us underway, kicking towards the Bobby Moore Stand end,..
7.45pm - Alex McLeish and Gianfranco Zola shake hands as the Italian emerges from the tunnel. Both managers smile as they embrace. Let's hope it is the Italian who is smiling come full-time.
7.44pm - Lee Bowyer gets a round of applause as his name is read out over the PA system. Nice touch.
7.42pm - Here come the two teams. There is a bit of snow in the air again! Not enough to turn the pitch white, however. The singing of 'Bubbles' has a bit of extra zest about it tonight, if I do say so myself. We need a home win tonight, and the home fans know it. Come on you Irons!
7.36pm - The West Ham players are heading back to the home dressing room for their final preparations. That gives me the opportunity to tell you that a Hammers win tonight, coupled with a Hull City defeat at Blackburn Rovers, would lift Gianfranco Zola's men into 14th place.
7.33pm - Mido will make his home debut for West Ham this evening, and the Egypt international forward is being shown on the big screen telling the home faithful how he is eager to prove himself in a claret and blue shirt. The 26-year-old made an encouraging start to his Hammers' career at Burnley on Saturday, agonisingly hitting the post in the final minute with a left-foot shot.
7.30pm - With just 15 minutes to go until kick-off, the pre-match snow has relented and the pitch looks in tip-top condition. A few remnants of the white stuff are still lingering on the pitch surround, but the only thing the players will have to worry about is the temperature. It is not warm here in east London tonight! Despite the cold, however, the Boleyn Ground is going to be full, with the club's 'Kids for a Quid' scheme attracting plenty of youngsters along to cheer on their heroes.
Gianfranco Zola has made four changes to the West Ham United side that went down to a 2-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at Burnley for Wednesday's visit of Birmingham City.
In come DR Congo left-back Herita Ilunga, Czech holding midfielder Radoslav Kovac, Italian playmaker Alessandro Diamanti and Egypt forward Mido, while Jonathan Spector, Mark Noble, Jack Collison and the injured Benni McCarthy make way.
Ilunga will make his first start since suffering a hamstring injury in the 2-0 league defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on 28 December, while Kovac and Diamanti return to the starting lineup after missing out during the weekend trip to Turf Moor.
The fourth newcomer, Mido, will make his full debut for the Hammers after impressing as a half-time substitute at Burnley. The 26-year-old hit the post with a 90th-minute shot and also had a hand in fellow debutant Ilan's consolation goal.
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish makes the first changes to his starting lineup in 13 league games, replacing Ecuador forward Christian 'Chucho' Benitez with in-form Kevin Phillips. The veteran replaced ankle injury victim Benitez in the home match against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday, climbing off the bench to score both Blues' goals in a 2-1 victory. Keith Fahey and Craig Gardner are in for Sebastian Larsson and James McFadden, who both drop to the bench.
West Ham United: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami, Kovac, Parker (Noble 86), Diamanti, Mido (Ilan 66), Cole
Subs: Stech, Spector, Da Costa, Collison, Stanislas
Birmingham City: Hart, Carr, Dann, Johnson, Ridgewell, Fahey (McFadden 67), Ferguson, Bowyer (Michel 77), Gardner, Phillips, Jerome
Subs: Maik Taylor, Parnaby, Vignal, Larsson, Jervis