Hammers win has Blackpool on rocky road
By Tom Dowsett
Thursday 03 Feb 2011 12:26:00
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West Ham United are off the bottom of the Barclays Premier League table after claiming only their second away league win of the season, but remain in the relegation zone due to Birmingham picking up a point in their game against Manchester City at St Andrews.

Avram Grant made five changes from the FA Cup victory against Nottingham Forest three days earlier with new signings Gary o'Neil and Robbie Keane making their full debuts, Wayne Bridge and Lars Jacobsen were restored to the starting line-up, while Scott Parker returned in midfield.

In an open game it was the hosts who put the Hammers under pressure as early as the first minute as they won a corner, but it was easily cleared. Soon after on three minutes West Ham went on the attack and good link-up play between Keane and Frederic Piquionne set up Victor Obinna whose shot was parried by Blackpool goalkeeper Richard Kingson.

West Ham started to control the game and went ahead on 24 minutes when Obinna found the ball at his feet after a corner had been taken. He did well to beat off the challenge of David Carney and had a low shot which Kingson should have done better with, instead the ball found its way into the net.

Just after the half hour mark, Danny Gabbidon had to be replaced after picking up an injury. That's bad luck for a player who has spent a long time out of the game previously due to injury problems. As Gabbidon left the pitch, Winston Reid came on to replace him.Blackpool were unlucky not to equalise on 35 minutes when Andy Reid crossed and the ball looked to be on its way in but Green back-peddled well to tip the ball over the bar.

Two minutes later another goal came for the Hammers but it was another mess for Blackpool as Noble's free-kick picked out Piquionne who in turn found Obinna. His shot was blocked by Kingson, Obinna was quickest to react and tried again. This effort was parried by Kingson and in the end Keane pounced to net a debut goal for his new club.

Minutes later, a defensive mistake from the Hammers this time when Parker's foul on Charlie Adam gave the home side a free-kick which Adam himself took, the corner deflected off Parker's head and went out for a corner. The corner was swung in again by Adam but this time it found its way in and the home side were back in the contest.

Blackpool had got themselves back in the game for only 90 seconds before Obinna showed some of the quality he produced in Sunday's game against Nottingham Forest as his 30-yard screamer beat Kingson and the visitors were back in front.

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Knowing they had to try and find a way back into the game, Blackpool made a half-time change, replacing Craig Cathcart with Ian Evatt to shore-up their leaky defence.Just as the second half got underway the Hammers could have gone further ahead when Piquionne tried to release a right-foot shot when Obinna was probably better placed. After steadying himself he was challenged at the vital moment.

On the hour mark Blackpool made a double substitution bringing on former Hammers' favourite Marlon Harewood as well as new signing James Beattie. They piled pressure on the Hammers but the scoreline remained with West Ham still in front.

On 71 minutes the home side were perhaps unlucky not to earn a penalty kick as Beattie went down in the box, but Parker was there to clear and was then subsequently fouled.

Minutes later Noble's free-kick found Keane in space. The Irishman forced Kingson into a good save and the ball went out for a corner, but it was wasted.

On 84 minutes, with Blackpool still not giving up hope of getting something out of the game, Grant made his first change replacing Obinna with Luis Boa Morte. Soon after, Keane's debut came to a premature end when he was taken-off and replaced by Radoslav Kovac.

After West Ham were searching for a fourth goal by earning a succession of set-pieces, the final whistle blew and they continued where they have left off from the FA Cup game. With Birmingham City now level on points with the Hammers, West Ham will look for revenge for the Carling Cup's semi-final defeat and if they beat Alex Mcleish's side on Sunday they will climb out of the bottom three.

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