A Noble Ton but Hammers Crash at Brum
By Tom Dowsett
Saturday 12 Dec 2009 20:17:00
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A solitary Lee Bowyer goal for Birmingham City  condemned West Ham United to defeat at St Andrews on Saturday afternoon.

Gianfranco Zola's team selection showed three changes from the home defeat to Manchester United seven days ago. Julien Faubert replaced Jonathan Spector, Mark Noble, who finally made his 100th appearance for the club, came in for Jack Collison and Alessandro Diamanti deputised for the injured Zavon Hines.

The Hammers had Robert Green to thank for keeping their hopes alive as Birmingham dominated the opening half hour. However, West Ham began to establish a foothold and twice Diamanti went agonisingly close.

On the stroke of half time Cameron Jerome failed to convert the chance of the half when he missed a close-range header with the whole goal at his mercy.

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The second half started in a similar fashion to the first. Christian Benitez had a goal ruled out for offside before former Hammer, Lee Bowyer, put the Blues ahead on 52 minutes.

Zola produced a double change bringing on Kieron Dyer and Jack Collison for Radoslav Kovac and Junior Stanislas. The game started to swing West Ham's way and Dyer was unfortunate not to equalise when his great strike rebounded back off the post.

The Hammers suffered a further setback when Noble was dismissed for a second yellow. The 10 men battled on and it was Diamanti who came the closest to grabbing an equaliser. But it was not to be and as Birmingham march on, West Ham slip back into the bottom three.

Zola's men face another tough test, in what has now become a "must win" match, when they travel to Bolton on Tuesday night.

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