Poor defending costs West Ham dear


The Hammers are now four points off the automatic promotion places after a resounding 4-2 defeat at the hands of Reading in a game dubbed a ‘must win’ for the Hammer’s automatic promotion chances. Reading arrived at Upton Park off the back of a 3-1 win against Blackpool, with 10 wins in the last 12 league games and were occupying the much coveted 2nd place, one point above West Ham, whose form had dipped in the last few weeks and it started to look as if they may have to rely on the playoffs to try and regain a place in the Premier League.  West Ham lined up in their usual 4-5-1 (or 4-3-3 as Sam likes to call it) with Carlton Cole leading the line and in form Gary O’Neil in midfield alongside Nolan and Noble. Reading also played in their familiar 4-4-2 formation, with Jason Roberts and Noel Hunt playing upfront together, leaving Simon Church, who scored twice in the same fixture in December, on the bench.

West Ham started brightly and opened the scoring through Carlton Cole. Kevin Nolan saw his header come off the post, but luckily Cole was on hand to fire home a left footed shot from 8 yards out. After the goal, West Ham started to dominate, Cole and Vaz Te looked dangerous and Faye looked solid at the back. The Irons started to exchange some passes and the Hammers faithful were in full voice. Reading almost equalised in the 23rd minute through Hunt, but his shot was cleared off the line by Tomkins.

The game started to become a little scrappier, with Roberts being booked for a flailing arm on Faye and just a couple of minutes later Tomkins brought down Roberts on the halfway-line, causing two Reading players to surround the referee Chris Foy. The resulting free kick was cleared away and Vaz Te released Taylor, who instead of shooting, crossed to try and find a teammate in the box, but it was cleared away. Every fan and player knew the importance of this game and the tension began to show. Many West Ham fans started to worry whether again we would see the Hammers dominate proceedings, but fail to capitalise on chances. This was the case for the Hammers as two good opportunities came and went both involving Vaz Te. The first a headed effort from McCartney’s cross which was comfortably saved by Federici. Then later, Vaz Te took possession from Faubert’s pass and the Hammers had a 5 on 4 but unfortunately Vaz Te’s cross evaded everyone and then Nolan’s follow-up cross also came to nothing.

The Hammers were made to rue missed chances as Kaspars Gorkšs equalised for Reading with a header at the near post from a Harte corner just before halftime. The Hammers fans must have thought that it couldn’t get any worse, after conceding right on the brink of halftime and being dominant for most of the first half when Noel Hunt put the Royals 2-1 just two minutes later. Hunt’s drive into the bottom corner left the Hammers trailing after looking like they were going into halftime with a well earned lead just minutes earlier. West Ham could have equalised just before the break, but no one could bundle the ball in from Matty Taylor’s corner.

Things then proceeded to get even worse for the East Londoners as Faye’s clumsy challenge on Hunt resulted in a penalty and Harte made no mistake from the spot, sending Green the wrong way.

The Hammers failed to rediscover their first half form. The passing lacked crispness and Reading’s counter attacks were looking more and more dangerous.

West Ham did manage to claw one back, after Vaz Te’s header from O’Neil’s corner, but it was all in vain as Leigertwood scored for Reading from 16 yards out past a hapless Green after some comical schoolboy defending from the Hammers. Reading even had the ball in the net again, however it was ruled out by the linesman.

So once again our finishing was far from clinical, even though we managed to get on the score-sheet twice. It was lacklustre defending which costs us today. When Sam took over, he assured the fans that he would sort of the defending woes which have always hampered the Hammers in the past few seasons, so let’s hope that this was just a one off defensive mishap and we can re-find our form for the last six games of the season.

A disappointing and rather worrying result as we slip further and further into the playoffs.

Do you think that we can still grab one of the automatic promotion spots? Tweet me @TollyCoburn

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