City Point Means It's All But Play-offs
By Tom Dowsett
Wednesday 18 Apr 2012 10:41:00
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West Ham United failed to capitalise on their magnificent 6-0 home win against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday and barring a miracle are now set to finish in the play-off places after dropping 2 points in a 1-1 draw against Bristol City on Tuesday night.

With Gary O'Neil picking up a knock and Carlton Cole aggravating an old knee injury at the weekend, Sam Allardyce brought in Danny Collins and former Robins' striker Nicky Maynard to replace them.

Hoping to continue their excellent away record which has seen them pick up an impressive 12 wins this season, the Hammers started well as they applied the pressure but could not find the killer touch to put them in front. Until, on 25 minutes when they won a freekick after Maynard had been fouled. Mark Noble lifted the ball in and it was left to James Tomkins to plant a header past goalkeeper Dean Gerken to make their pressure pay.

Four minutes later however, the scores were level when Cole skuse scored his first goal for a year when he tried a long-range effort which ended up in the back of the net after it had bounced past Robert Green.

The goal certainly lifted the home crowd and it bought a change in tempo as the Robbins were pushing to try and find a goal before half-time, but West Ham held firm and when the whistle blew the scores remained level.

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The second half started and West Ham went close to regaining the lead on 51 minutes when Maynard set up Henri Lansbury who tried an effort, but his shot just kissed the top of the crossbar on its way over.

Although Bristol city were coming back into the game, West Ham nearly made them pay again, but Winston Reid could not finish after Noble's freekick was headed on by Tomkins.

Just after the hour mark, West Ham had another chance after Lansbury had latched onto a pass from Ricardo Vaz Te, he tried an effort which stung the palms of Gerken but didn't beat him.

Minutes later, Matthew Taylor was fouled which gave West Ham another freekick, Noble again delivered and found Guy Demel but he lost possession. Maynard then conceded a freekick for a foul on a Robins' player. While there was a break in play, Big Sam decided to replace Collins with John Carew.

After Derek McInnes had made a double substitution, replacing Yannick Bolasie and Kalifa Cisse with Martin woolford and Albert Adomah, there was then action at both ends, first when Chris wood latched onto a cross to force Green into a smart save, then West Ham broke away and found Carew but he couldn't get onto the end of a cross into the box either.

With West Ham trying to find a winner, a double change was made by Allardyce as he brought on Jack Collison and Julien Faubert to replace Demel and Maynard.

The visitors were dominating the closing stages of the second half, as they had done in the opening stages of the first, but once again could not find the finish which would have given them all 3 points to take back to Upton Park. This was emphasised when Taylor won a throw and Collison then found captain Kevin Nolan, who sent the ball in for Carew to head on, but instead he headed straight into the hands of Gerken.

With three minutes of normal time to play, the Hammers almost snatched all 3 points when good play from Nolan set up Faubert, who fired a cross in which just eluded Carew and a Robins defender cleared for a throw. Lansbury then hurled the ball back into play for Carew to control, but his turn and shot only ended up in the side netting rather than the back of the net.

Four minutes of stoppage time were signalled with the home side content to settle for a point, as it looked likely to keep them up. However, West Ham's hopes of automatic promotion suffered a setback as they could not find a winner and the final whistle was blown, leaving them in hope that Middlesborough pick up something from their game at home to Southampton on Saturday before the Hammers head to the KingPower stadium to face Leicester City on Monday night. If the Saints were to grab something from the Riverside, the East Londoners would then face the first-leg of a play-off semi-final on Thursday 3 May.

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