Hammers' Unbeaten Run Comes To Sticky End
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 23 Nov 2014 13:42:00
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West Ham United have dropped to sixth place in the table after they suffered their first loss since their defeat at Old Trafford by being on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.

Injuries have certainly taken their toll on the Hammers during the past week, leaving Sam Allardyce having to make five changes to the side that played Aston Villa a fortnight ago. Out went Stewart Downing, Diafra Sakho, Alex Song, Cheikou Kouyate and Enner Valencia, leaving space for regular skipper Kevin Nolan to start his first game since the opening day. Andy Carroll was also given his first start of the season, while James Tomkins, Morgan Amalfitano and Carlton Cole were all restored to the starting line-up. Mauro Zarate was included on the bench.

Everton were straight on the attack when the action commenced as Leon Osman found Kevin Mirallas who was one-on-one with Adrian but had strayed offside. This was lucky for the Irons but it was a sign of things to come later in the game.

It was then end to end after West Ham had survived that early scare until 19 minutes had been played when Steven Naismith blasted his effort over the top.

Two minutes later, Ross Barkley got the better of Aaron Cresswell, then Nolan conceded a freekick for an apparent foul on the youngster but replays showed it was a blatant dive. As you can imagine, Nolan wasn't best pleased with referee Mark Clattenburg's decision.

The Toffees went close on 24 minutes, when Naismith sent a cross in but it didn't reach an Everton player and went all the way across the penalty box before the home side gained possession. Seconds later, Tony Hibbert smashed the ball over the crossbar. Two minutes later however, Roberto Martinez's side did go in front after a blocked shot from Ross Barkley fell kindly for Romelu Lukaku to smash past Adrian to give his side the lead, although once again, Clattenburg may have made the wrong decision as the striker was very close to being offside.

On 32 minutes, the Hammers were enjoying a good period of possession and could have equalised when Amalfitano and Nolan combined but unfortunately the Frenchman put his effort wide.

The home side had the ball in the net again five minutes later, however this time Clattenburg made the right call as he ruled the effort out for yet another offside.

Four minutes before the break, Everton midfielder James McCarthy slid in late on Amalfitano. Following that a melee ensued
after which both McCarthy and Winston Reid were booked for their troubles.

No changes were made by either manager at the break but with just six minutes of the second half gone, Sam Allardyce decided to go for broke and make a double change with Mark Noble and Cole being replaced by Matt Jarvis and Zarate. Noble was withdrawn after being tackled heavily in the opening 45 minutes.

Big Sam's decision to introduce Zarate paid off on 56 minutes, as he scored a superb individual goal. Though it did take a deflection off Everton defender Phil Jagielka it was nonetheless given to the Argentinian who netted his second goal of the season.

On the hour mark, Mirallas went in hard on Amalfitano. This time it was Tomkins, who took exception to the challenge and confronted the aggressor who pushed the West Ham defender and he went down clutching his face. After the situation had calmed down, Clattenburg booked both players.

Zarate continued to have an impact as he drew a foul from Barkley and the visitors were given a freekick. Once the set-piece
had been taken the ball droped to Carroll, who then passed to Amalfitano and he tested Toffees' stopper Tim Howard with a powerful shot but the goalkeeper made a fabulous diving save.

West Ham had a golden chance to grab the lead on 71 minutes, but Jarvis slammed a shot into the side netting after being released to run down the pitch.

It was Everton who found the net just two minutes later, when they once again went on the attack. Collins tried to foul Lukaku but the Belgian international striker stayed on his feet and the ball dropped to substitute Samuel Eto'o who crossed to Osman who beat Adrian to send the majority inside the ground potty.

The East Londoners could have levelled again when Amalfitano's cross found Jarvis whose attempted shot hit Collins who tried to finish the chance off; however Howard blocked the ball with his feet.

With eight minutes of normal time to play, the Hammers made their final change, as Amalfitano was replaced by Ricardo Vaz Te.

Just as five minutes of stoppage time had been signalled, the home side had a great chance to make the scoreline look even more comfortable but Eto'o sent his effort wide.

That was the final action of the game as the visitors surrendered their five match unbeaten run. Next week will be interesting however, as the Irons welcome a resurgent Newcastle United to Upton Park.

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