No Pride For Hammers at Derby
By Tom Dowsett
Saturday 31 Dec 2011 17:31:00
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After Monday's 1-1 draw against Birmingham City, West Ham United ended the year with a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Derby County at Pride Park this afternoon.

Sam Allardyce made four changes to the side that started at St Andrews, with skipper Kevin Nolan, Julien Faubert and George McCartney replaced in the starting line-up by defender Winston Reid, midfielders Henri Lansbury and Gary O'Neil and Frank Nouble. O'Neill started for the first time since 16 April against Aston Villa. Frank Nouble came into the side in place of Carlton Cole, who dropped to the bench.

As in the match at Upton Park on 26th November, Derby scored the first goal but it didn't take them so long this time. With only two minutes gone, Callum Ball eased past the defence and curled an unstoppable shot past Robert Green.

The Rams continued to pile on pressure and after 10 minutes increased their lead as Paul Green sent a diving header into the net past his namesake Robert.

West Ham started to come back into the game and had a good chance on 21 minutes but unfortunately Frederic Piquionne headed over the bar from Mark Noble's cross.

Three minutes later, Lansbury was booked for bringing down John Brayford. To be fair to the on-loan Arsenal man, Brayford would have been through on goal.

The resulting freekick was dealt with by Dan Potts but his clearance allowed Jamie Ward the space to shoot; fortunately for the Hammers his effort was well wide of the goal. Ward came close just minutes later, when James Tomkins misjudged James Baily's cross but there was to be disappointment again for the Derby striker.

O'Neill came close to his debut goal for the Hammers but instead he saw his shot go narrowly wide and into the side-netting.

On 39 minutes West Ham really should have pulled a goal back but Nouble and Lansbury forced goalkeeper Frank Fielding into an excellent double save.

The visitors needed a goal before half-time if they were to get anything from the game and on 42 minutes they gave themselves hope as Nouble claimed his first goal for the club at senior level when Piquionne set him up to slide the ball past Fielding.

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The second half started with the Hammers continuing their increased tempo from the end of the first 45 minutes. This was further evident on 52 minutes when Lansbury just failed to connect with Nouble's pass. Two minutes later an even better chance came when Feilding tipped over Noble's freekick.

On the hour mark, with only strikers on the bench, Sam Baldock and Cole came on for Piquionne and O'Neil.

Nine minutes later West Ham fashioned a chance when Potts' cross was headed up into the air but Noble's volley flew well wide.

It was then Derby's turn to produce heroics from Green as he saved first from Ben Davies and then from Theo Robinson.

On 79 minutes Robert Hall was given his first taste of npower Championship football as he came on to replace Papa Bouba Diop.

Hall was quick into the action and within two minutes he had forced a good save from Feilding as West Ham pushed for an equaliser.

With two minutes of normal time to play, the Hammers thought they should have been awarded a penalty when Gareth Roberts stopped a fierce shot from Noble but the referee gave nothing.

Four minutes of stoppage time was signalled and when the final whistle blew, the Hammers were left to reflect on a run that has seen them pick up four points from the last five games. They will hope to start the New Year off with a bang when Coventry City visit Upton Park on Monday afternoon.

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