Bolton 2-1 West Ham United: Di Michele Costs the Hammers a Point (or Three)

Jacob NitzbergAnalyst IFebruary 21, 2009

On Saturday, West Ham saw one streak stopped and another continued. The Hammers lost away from home for the first time since October, and still have never won a game in Reebok Stadium, falling to Bolton 2-1.

West Ham was the better side for 75 of the 90 minutes, but the first 15 were enough for Bolton to take all three points from this tie.  The Wanderers scored twice in the first 11 minutes of the game, once on a free kick by Matthew Taylor and then just two minutes later on a goal by a streaking Kevin Davies.

Just two minutes after the second goal, Welsh international defender James Collins went down to make a tackle and never recovered.  He was taken off on a stretcher and replaced by James Tomkins.

It looked as if this fixture would be all Bolton, but surprisingly, from that point on West Ham looked the better side. They played well, but poor finishing was the key to their demise. 

In the 29th minute, a corner taken by Mark Noble fell to David Di Michele, but the Italian striker's shot was well wide. In the 36th minute, a ball by Cole set up Mark Noble on the right with only the keeper in front, but he opted to try to center to Jack Collison in traffic rather than test the keeper.

Just over three minutes later, Di Michele was again sent clear by Noble, but he missed wide by well over a length of a goal. I haven't played organized football in a decade and I could have done better than that.

The look on manager Gianfranco Zola's face after that said everything regarding the quality of that finish. 

Immediately after the restart, the Hammers won a corner, which was deflected on to the head of Carlton Cole, who no one even expected to play this week after taking a knock in the Middlesbrough match, but it was cleared off the line by Matthew Taylor. 

The next twenty minutes were evenly split but West Ham finally got a deserved goal in the 66th minute when Scott Parker created a run down the pitch, passed to Carlton Cole, who deflected it to Spector on the right side, and he brilliantly passed it back to Parker in the box who hit it home on the first touch.

West Ham kept the pressure on, and in the 74th minute Di Michele struck again, rather, he blew another chance. Scott Parker got the ball in the box from Noble, had it deflected to Di Michele with only the keeper to beat. 

However, instead of striking it from six yards, he danced around Jaaskelainen and took a shot from a tough angle, which was cleared nicely by Gary Cahill. From there, West Ham kept the pressure on, but even with the substitution to bring on a third striker in Freddie Sears the ball wouldn't find the back of the net again. 

A disappointing result for West Ham in a match which they were the better side for the majority of it. Bolton gains a crucial three points in their fight against relegation, now on 30 points and 12th in the table.

West Ham remains at 33 points after their second consecutive loss, eighth in the table but just 10 points clear of the bottom three. West Ham faces Middlesbrough at the Riverside midweek in an FA Cup Fifth Round replay, while Bolton stays at home to face Newcastle United next Sunday.