Hammers suffer right Royal thrashing
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 01 Apr 2012 13:25:00
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West Ham United's run of 11 games without defeat is over as they suffered their first home loss since last December when Reading came from behind to secure a comprehensive 2-4 win at Upton Park on Saturday afternoon to keep them in 2nd place in the table.

Sam Allardyce made one change to the side that played in midweek as Julien Faubert was given a start in place of the injured Joey O'Brien.

Knowing this was a vital game for their promotion hopes, the Hammers started well and went ahead as early as the eighth minute' as Captain Kevin Nolan did brilliantly to run clear of the Royals' defence and crossed to Matthew Taylor. Taylor then crossed back into the area for Carlton Cole, whose initial header hit the post only for the striker to readjust and hit a shot low past Adam Federici and into the net to give the Hammers the only goal that Allardyce had been talking about in the build up to the game.

Having dominated the early stages, West Ham were nearly made to pay for not grabbing a second goal when Jimmy Kebe crossed into the area and found Noel Hunt who had time to shoot but when he eventually did, James Tomkins was there to block superbly with his head.

On 44 minutes, Reading equalised against the run of play when Kaspars Gorkss placed ahead into the corner of Robert Green's net from Ian Harte's corner.

A minute later, some sloppy West Ham defending resulted in reading taking the lead when the home side allowed the ball to bounce in their own box, Faubert then passed it straight to Hunt, who took a touch before sending a low shot past Green.

West Ham almost pulled themselves level on the stroke of half-time when Cole headed goalwards but Nolan somehow managed to stop the ball from crossing the line. A melee then took place but no one could get a final touch to make the scores level going in to the half-time break.

Minutes later, the the half-time whistle blew, leaving the Hammers' fans in a state of shock having seen their team dominate for large periods of the half.

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Before the second half got underway, Big Sam made a change as Mark Noble seemed to have picked up an injury so he was replaced with Danny Collins.

On 57 minutes West Ham should have equalised when Ricardo Vaz Te collected a pass and picked out Faubert, he tried to cross for Cole but Pearce was there to avert any danger and head out when the ball was crossed back in, Tomkins tried a shot but Federici caught the ball easily.

A minute later up the other end Reading had won a penalty when Hunt was fouled in the area by Abdoulaye Faye. Harte stepped up and confidently beat Green from 12 yards.

Having seen Brian McDermott's side increase their advantage, Allardyce made another change as he replaced Matthew Taylor with Sam Baldock and later the final change was made when he replaced the Hammers' goalscorer with Nicky Maynard.

On 72 minutes West Ham grabbed a second goal when Gary O'Neil's corner was powerfully headed past Federici by Vaz Te. The Australian goalkeeper did manage to get a hand on the shot though before the ball had crossed the line.

With six minutes of normal time to play, hopes of a West Ham comeback were dashed as reading netted for a fourth time in the match when the ball hit Hunt's heel and as the home faithful appealed for offside, a shot was fired in by Mikele Leigertwood.

Reading thought they had scored a fifth goal when Jason Roberts cut the ball back for Hunt but it had gone out of play. Then Collins sliced a clearance which nearly gave Reading a fifth but, he recovered well. Afterwards West Ham attacked on the break and Nolan nearly found a way back into the game but his header was easy for Federici to claim.

Six minutes of stoppage time were signalled at the end of the game and Maynard could have made it a nervy finish for the Royals but, unfortunately his header was too close to Federici who claimed well.

The final whistle blew and although the run of home draws had ended, this time the Hammers left the field with nothing and remain in 3rd place in the table. They now face a trip to Oakwell to face Barnsley at 5:15pm on Friday.

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