Unhappy West Ham return for Manchester's City boy Craig Bellamy
01 March 2009 05:25
As a homecoming it was hardly a cause for celebration for Craig Bellamy, but in terms of heralding St David's Day, fellow Welsh international Jack Collison was able to mark March 1 with the match-winner, extending Manchester City's run without an away league win to more than six months.
On the Principality's Saints' Day, it was all set up for a memorable outing for Bellamy, so patriotically Welsh that he has a magnificent tattoo of 14th century Welsh ruler and hero Owen Glendower depicted on his right arm. Instead, it was left to Collison, a 20-year-old born in Watford but with a Welsh grandfather, to fly the dragon in east London.
The booing began for Bellamy during the warm-up, reached a crescendo when his name was read out, continued with every touch and only when the striker was taken off in the 66th minute did the jeers turn to cheers, the Welshman's disappointing day complete by news that must now visit a specialist to check a knee injury.
And interestingly, the man signed out of the proceeds from the £14 million sale of Bellamy to Eastlands, Savio, was instrumental in helping the hosts move to seventh place after coming on early for the unlucky Valon Behrami.
The Swiss international caught his studs in the Upton Park turf in a 38th minute challenge with City defender Wayne Bridge but it was another five minute before he left on a stretcher and with a supply of oxygen helping to ease his pain.
West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola confirmed that Behrami had been taken to hospital and that the club were awaiting the results of an MRI scan and that he will miss Wednesday's trip to Wigan.
But City may have to pay a heavier price ahead of Wednesday's home game against Villa; Micah Richards is doubtful with a hamstring problem while Robinho could miss the game after coming off in added time with an ankle injury. And Bellamy's hopes of facing Villa are slim.
City, though, might have been ahead early on when, in the 15th minute, Vincent Kompany's shot was back-healed by Robinho, played onside by a stray defender, but Robert Green saved well. Soon afterwards City lost Richards, in a challenge with Scott Parker. But with Bellamy drifting from a central striker's role to a wide berth, City became erratic.
Collison forced a save out Shay Given, Carlton Cole shot over and David Di Michele was also thwarted by the City goalkeeper before Behrami departed and, in the second half, West Ham, inspired by the influential Parker, deservedly went ahead, in the 71st minute.
Savio, who impressed, sent a teasing shot towards goal, Given made an equally impressive save but Collison side-footed a looping effort to claim the points.
City squandered late chances with Felipe Caicedo missing two opportunities either side of a wasted effort from Robinho but manager Mark Hughes believed his side deserved more.
'The least we deserved was a draw if not a win,' insisted another Welshman who wears a ring depicting the Prince of Wales feathers. 'There were periods when we dominated possession but goals change games and we needed to score when we created chances.'