West Ham’s dominant performance somehow ended with the Hammers gaining no points from the match. Injury stricken Everton put out a strong and experienced side which included the likes of goalscorer Saha and talisman Fellaini. West Ham, also struck by injuries to Carlton Cole and Herita Ilunga were forced to play Zavon Hines and Guille Franco up front. Saha’s opening goal against the run of the play and a Dan Gosling finish from close range were just enough to beat a strong West Ham side who scored through Junior Stanislas with just under 30 mins to play. Zavon Hines had multiple chances to set up a sensational finale but Carlton Cole’s presence up front was truly missed as the youngster shot wide on both occasions.
The opening part of the match has been an area where Zola’s side have struggled this season but the confidence from the Wednesday night win against Aston Villa carried straight through to this game against Everton. Scott Parker showed again why he is still a possibilty for an England spot, although an unlikely possibility, as he controlled the midfield with amazing maturity and vision. Julien Faubert looked threatening down the right and Zavon Hines was making some lovely runs to provide Collison on the left some help, which he and Parker utilised. Zavon Hines was sent clear after some great interplay between Parker and Collison but Hines’s lack of experience showed as he was stopped on the edge of the box twice after being sent clear. However West Ham continued to attack and Parker was looking increasingly threatening and his weaving run through the defense ended with a chance that he could only hit straight at the goalkeeper with no angle to work with. This seemed to wake up the boys from Merseyside and despite a few needless fouls from Fellaini they started to play with a bit more confidence but even so the Hammers carried on dominating. After Zavon Hines’s runs caused problems early on the defence covered the left channel more and more. Parker was superior to this and was able to send Julien Faubert through only for his cross to be tapped just wide by Guille Franco. Saha’s 26th minute strike was completely against the run of play after Fellaini should have got a yellow card for yet another stupid challenge but the referee gave him yet another chance and Saha’s driven effort left Green standing. The goal just re-ignited the Hammers’s fire and they began to attack with more vigour but chances were limited. Fellaini then broke the rules 3 times in quick succession. First he handled, then in anger fouled Scott Parker quite badly and then fouled Franco very badly on the edge of the box. Both of the bad challenges were out of anger and there is no debating the fact that he should have been booked and Tim Howard comfortbaly saved from Jiminez’s effort on goal. The half ended with West Ham behind but the performance merited at least 2 goals from the Hammers.
Scott Parker was instrumental in midfield.
The second half started badly with most of the football being played in the midfield of the park and the fans became increasingly frustrated. It seemed that the Hammer’s had given up, apart from half-time substitute Junior Stanislas who was providing some decent runs and doing well in place of the injured Collison. Despite West Ham fielding two prolific youngsters themselves it was Dan Gosling of Everton who scored the second goal. Despite the lack of chances at both ends, the goal still seemed against the run of play after his first shot was well parried by Green but England’s No1 could do nothing when Gosling smashed in the follow up. This set the game alight and Diamanti started to use his left foot with confidence. Some great balls were sent through and it wasn’t too long untill one ended up in a goal. Diamanti’s pin-point ball over the top sent Junior Stanislas clear and a great first touch and then the masterful finish gave West Ham some hope. (It was Stanislas’s goal not an own goal in my view). Ex Hammer Lucas Neill was being rightfully booed by the fans at every touch of the ball and the heightened atmosphere fuelled the teams desire and when Scott Parker sent Zavon Hines through, the finale was to be set up but the yougnster missed from close range, shooting to the wrong side of Howard, the youngster had more time than he seemed to think but he had the chance to redeem himself minutes later. Diamanti, who was having a blinder, again was the provider and Everton’s defence was all at sea as Zavon Hines created space for himself, only to shoot wide. For the remainder of the match there were wild shots from Diamanti untill Franco had a great opportunity, only to slip and fall much to the fans annoyance. It ended 2-1 to Everton and Zola will hope that Carlton Cole never gets injured again but then again on a different day Hines would have bagged those opportunities. Luck just isn’t on our side!
Robert Green: 7
Jonathon Spector: 6
Matthew Upson: 7
Manuel Da Costa: 8
Julien Faubert: 7
Jack Collison: 6
Scott Parker: 8
Luis Jiminez: 6
Valon Behrami: 7
Zavon Hines: 6.5
Guillermo Franco: 6
Junior Stanislas: 9
Allesandro Diamanti: 9
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