Hammers failed to break Reebok jinx
By Tom Dowsett
Saturday 09 Apr 2011 18:50:00
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West Ham United remain in the relegation zone after failing to break their Reebok stadium jinx losing to Bolton Wanderers 3-0 on Saturday.

There were three changes made to the team with James Tomkins being restored to the defence, Carlton Cole was dropped to the bench to make way for Frederic Piquionne and Robbie Keane was also restored to the starting eleven in place of Gary O'Neil.

Both teams started the game with intent as Bolton had the first chance when Johan Elmander shot only to see the effort fly well wide of the goal, then the Hammers had a real chance. Good team play ended with Demba Ba unable to connect with Thomas Hitzlsperger's shot.

The Hammers were lucky not to be a goal behind on four minutes, as Daniel Sturridge's shot was scrambled away for a corner. From the corner, Gary Cahill headed wide of the post.

After there were chances at both ends, Bolton came up with the opener at 13 minutes. A mix-up between Matthew Upson and Manuel Da Costa allowanced Sturridge to curl the ball past Robert Green and into the top left-hand corner.

Bolton continued to put the Hammers under pressure and it paid off as six minutes later Elmander sent a cross in for Martin Petrov who crossed for Chung-Yong Lee who had acres of space to plant a header beyond Green.

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After West Ham had not offered much in the first half, Avram Grant decided to change things for the start of the second half, replacing Piquionne and Upson with Carlton Cole and Lars Jacobsen.

With those changes made, the Hammers started the second half much better with Cole almost making an impact with his first touch as he played in Ba, but his well-executed shot was easily saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen in the home goal.

West Ham's bright opening to the second 45 counted for nothing as Sturridge completed the scoring as his left-foot shot was placed well inside the right-hand post.

On 55 minutes an excellent tackle from Tomkins prevented Sturridge from completing his hat-trick after Fabrice Muamba had set the striker up well, after Hitzlsperger was cought in possession.

However, another good team move later set up Ba who should have pulled a goal back for the Hammers, but Jaaskelainen made a fantastic save and palmed the ball around the post to give them another corner. This time, Mark Noble's ball was behind Da Costa and the chance was missed.

Minutes later, Sturridge was given so much space but he failed to complete his hat-trick as his lob effortlessly saved by Green.

Tomkins had another great chance to grab a consolation just past the hour mark when he won the header from the corner conceded by Zatiah Knight, but once again Jaaskelainen made an excellent save.

Four minutes later Ba was next to try and get the elussive goal but his right-foot effort flew past Jaaskelainen only to clip the post and bounce away. 

On 71 minutes, the Hammers kept pressing and nearly found a way past the Bolton keeper, but from Hitzlsperger's corner Da Costa's goalbound header was well controlled on the line by Petrov and the danger was cleared.

Minutes later Grant played his last card and replaced Scott Parker with Jonathan Spector who almost immediately was accidentally kicked in the face by Elmander.

Bolton had the best of the closing stages but after two minutes of stoppage time the final whistle was blown to end a miserable afternoon for the Hammers. Next up is the crucial home clash with Aston Villa next Saturday.

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