Poor Hammers beaten by resilient Birmingham
Hammers return to the foot of the table
West Ham must be sick of the sight of Birmingham City. The Hammers have suffered Carling Cup semi-final heartbreak, thrown away a two-goal lead at St Andrews earlier in the season and now lost a vital relegation clash to leave them once again bottom of the table, two points off safety.
Nikola Zigic, the man who has hurt the Hammers the most was at it again at Upton Park and his 65th minute header was enough to give his side the three points.
While over the past month the Hammers have had to endure an aerial bombardment from City, it took just one effort on target for Alex McLeish’s men to break the east Londoners.
In truth neither side deserved to win a poor game at Upton Park and while West Ham missed their chances the Blues grabbed their only opportunity.
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Neither side took control of the game early on, with both teams unable to maintain possession.
Robbie Keane created the first chance for West Ham when after 21 minutes his clever flick gave Frederic Piquionne space on the edge of the area, but his weak effort was easily dealt with by Foster.
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Roger Johnson had Birmingham’s best chance in the first half, but he headed over from 10 yards out.
Obinna looks dangerous when coming inside, but well organised Brimingham proved difficult to break down.
Manuel Da Costa came on for Matthew Upson at the start of the second half.
The second period continued where the first left off, with neither side creating chances.
Carlton Cole came on for the ineffectual Frederic Piquionne 15 minutes into the second period, but with Birmingham continuing with their ultra defensive approach, the hosts continued to be frustrated.
West Ham’s best opportunities came on the counter attack, but Scott Parker in particular was guilty of mis-placing passes when well placed.
Zigic gave Birmingham the lead after 61 minutes when a Sebastian Larsson free kick was headed home at the back post by the giant Serbian.
Ba came on for Robbie Keane after 74 minutes and it took just four minutes to make an impact when he rattled the crossbar with his first touch in English football.
Manuel Da Costa forced a good save from Foster with an impressive 30-yard smash towards goal, but West Ham rarely troubled the visitors.
And with games against Spurs, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool to come before May, their hopes of Premier League survival are in real danger.