Stoke Turn Up the Heat on Zola
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 28 Mar 2010 14:04:00
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It's been a bad week for West Ham United. Losing to Wolves on Tuesday together with a 0-1 defeat to Stoke City on Saturday has left manager Gianfranco Zola considering his future at Upton Park.

Zola made five changes to the side that started against Wolves. Out went James Tompkins, Benni McCarthy, Alessandro Diamanti, Fabio Drapella and Radoslav Kovac. In came Jonathan Spector, Mark Noble, Mido, Manuel da Costa and Kieron Dyer.

The effect was a seemingly better performance than that of four days previous. The team competed well in what was for the most part an even encounter.

Rory Delap's long throws still caused problems for the home defenders, despite West Ham replicating Burnley's idea of placing advertising boards close to the touchlines. Having said that chances were limited at both ends.

On 35 minutes West Ham wasted a guilt-edged chance. Carlton Cole broke free and fired-in a fierce shot that goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen could only parry to Mido 10 yards out. He failed to control it and the chance was lost. It would be interesting to know whose decision it was to bring him to the club!

The half finished with West Ham pressing hard but unable to find that vital opening goal.

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During the interval Dyer was mysteriously replaced by Diamanti - tactical or injury?

The second half continued where the first had left off; fairly even but Stoke were still capable of causing problems with their direct style of play.

The crucial change came on 67 minutes when Ricardo Fuller replaced former Hammer Matthew Etherington. Two minutes later Fuller danced through the West Ham defence to score a great individual effort.

With 15 minutes left Noble was replaced by Ilan as the Hammers threw people forward in an effort to rescue a deserved equaliser. But try as they may, the breaks just would not fall for them.

In a last throw of the dice Zola replaced Mido with McCarthy on 86 minutes but Stoke held on to claim the points.

Hammers' fans will now just have to wait and see what happens off the pitch during what promises to be a newsworthy week ahead.

On the pitch the next test is a tough one at Goodison Park next Sunday.


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