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Hammers D-Day for Gold and Sullivan as takeover at Upton Park edges closer

18 Jan 2010 08:27:11

Hammers D-Day for Gold and Sullivan as takeover at Upton Park edges closer

The race to buy West Ham will be decided on Monday after former Birmingham bosses David Gold and David Sullivan, and Malaysian multi-millionaire Tony Fernandes, finalised their bids in a round of dramatic talks late on Sunday night. Although Gold and Sullivan are confident of success, Sportsmail understands that Fernandes, owner and chief executive of Air Asia, is still right in contention. If Gold and Sullivan complete their return to football, they will make an approach to former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes, currently away on a skiing holiday, to take over from Gianfranco Zola controlas manager. Hammer time: David Gold (left) and David Sullivan (right) pictured with Sullivan's wife (second right) and Karren Brady in their time at Birmingham City They will also move for Monaco forward Eidur Gudjohnsen and Manchester City's Benjani. On the field, West Ham hung on for a point at Aston Villa on Sunday,leaving home boss Martin O'Neill to defend his team against adis-gruntled section of home fans whose frustration boiled over.  The Irishman remonstrated with supporters at the bottom of the Trinity Road Stand as Villa battered away unsuccessfully against a resolute West Ham defence. The exchange happened after Gabby Agbonlahor had missed a late chance and coach Jim McDonagh also waded into the row. Villa are 90 minutes from their first Wembley final in a decade leading Blackburn 1-0 going into Wednesday's home leg of their Carling Cup semi-final and in sight again of the Premier League top four, so it was difficult to understand the complaints. But dissatisfaction grew as Zola's defence withstood 16 corners and umpteen crosses. Disallowed: John Carew saw his effort ruled out O'Neill said: 'I'm not sure it was a big issue. The issue was that we were unable to score. But considering we played on Thursday, it was a huge effort.' The outcome would probably have been different if referee Mike Jones had applied the letter of the law after Radoslav Kovac's second-half challenge on Stiliyan Petrov. He took out the Bulgarian from behind but was spared a second yellow card by the Chester official, presumably because the first-half caution he had awarded against the Czech was so soft. 'Petrov kept him on the pitch,' said O'Neill. 'If he hadn't got up so quickly, then it's likely Kovac would have been sent off. Well done, Stiliyan. I must have a word with him about that.' Within seconds, Zola had hauled off the holding midfielder and it sparked the visitors' best spell of the game. Until then, they had done well to stay in it. The Italian gave 18-year-old striker Frank Nouble his full League debut, leading the line on his own, and the youngster worked himself to a standstill. After one mesmerising run in the opening five minutes, he failed narrowly to deliver a shot under pressure from Petrov. Then Green saved smartly from Agbonlahor and Villa dominated until half-time, before turning up the heat again after the interval. James Milner cracked the outside of a post from 25 yards and the assistant's flag wiped out John Carew's effort when Green spilled Stewart Downing's shot.  Eyes on the prize: Ashley Young and Julien Faubert At the other end, James Collins almost slashed wildly into his own net from Junior Stanislas's cross-cum-shot, but Green was needed in the dying moments after Agbonlahor had expertly turned Matthew Upson. That incident sparked the touchline fracas. Zola was happy. With four games to play against their rivals at the foot of the table before the end of February, Carlton Cole returning to training next week and the prospect of a cash injection when the takeover goes through, the outlook is brighter for West Ham. 'I'm proud of the players,' he said. 'Villa had good chances but maybe for our performance in the second half we deserved something. It's a big boost and will prepare us in the best way for what's coming up.'  Aston Villa v West Ham: How the action unfoldedTHE INSIDER: Steven Gerrard tops ambitious Inter Milan's shopping list and West Ham could do better than Maxi Lopez ASTON VILLA FC


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