Bolton 3 West Ham 0: Dan's the man as Wanderers deal Avram Grant a Hammer blow

10 April 2011 11:48
Avram Grant remains defiantly confident that he can rescue West Ham from relegation despite another comprehensive defeat which left them entrenched in the Premier League's bottom three.

Still shell-shocked from last Saturday's 4-2 home defeat by Manchester United when they allowed a two-goal lead to slip, they showed few signs of improvement and suffered an emphatic beating against a Bolton side with one eye on next Sunday's FA Cup semi-final meeting with Stoke at Wembley.

They conceded twice inside the first 20 minutes - with the first goal causing goalkeeper Robert Green to square up to midfielder Mark Noble. And although they improved in the second half, injuries to Matthew Upson and Scott Parker may further undermine their hopes of survival.

'We lost almost every battle in the first half and that was the key,' said Grant. 'I believe we can stay in the league and what you saw in the first half is not something you see every day in our team - we have shown this season that we can recover from situations like this and we need to do that again in the next six games.'

Fancy Dan: Sturridge (centre) scores Bolton's third goal

Up for the fight: Bolton's Kevin Davies and West Ham's Manuel Da Costa (top) battle for the ball

They still face tough games at Chelseaand Manchester City and a trip to fellow relegation strugglers Wigan,so facing Bolton the weekend before their trip to Wembley should havebeen as good a time as any to play them.

Despite facing an under-parBolton line-up, who had rested David Wheater and Paul Robinson toprotect them from earning a yellow card which would have ruled them outof the semi-final, West Ham were torn apart in the first 20 minutes andlooked increasingly anxious every time the ball approached theirpenalty area.

Unable to cope with Johan Elmander's midfield role,Daniel Sturridge's pace and power ensured Bolton were dominant from themoment he curled the opener from the edge of the box, which promptedGreen and Noble's angry confrontation.

Bolton's lead was doubled inside20 minutes, with South Korean midfielder Chung-Yong Lee heading homeMartin Petrov's left-wing cross by darting between central defensivepair Upson and Manuel da Costa, to increase the discomfort of Grant,who was sat in the stand as he began a two-match touchline ban forimproper conduct.

It was not until the 42nd minute of the first halfthat West Ham forced a save from Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen,with their German midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger hitting a trademarkdrive from the edge of the box straight at him.

But any doubts aboutthe outcome were ended when Sturridge claimed his second goal, cuttingin from the left wing, before being allowed to drift inside without achallenge until he outwitted Scott Parker with a stepover on the edgeof the box, then driving low past Green.

Hammer blow: Chung-Yong Lee scores for Bolton

MATCH FACTSBolton (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Alonso; Lee (Taylor 78min), Elmander, Muamba, Petrov(Moreno 79); Sturridge, Davies (Klasnic 82).

Subs (not used): Bogdan, Robinson, Blake, Cohen. Booked: Cahill.

West Ham (4-3-3): Green; Tomkins, Upson (Jacobsen 46), Da Costa, Bridge; Noble, Parker (Spector 76), Hitzlsperger;Keane, Piquionne (Cole 46), Ba.

Subs (not used): Boffin, Gabbidon, O'Neil, Obinna.

Referee: L Probert (Gloucestershire).

Sturridge had further chancesto score a hat-trick, running through on to Fabrice Muamba's pass onlyfor a brilliant block tackle from da Costa to deny him and thenbreaking the offside trap again but failing to beat Green with a lob.

West Ham did rally in the second half with Carlton Cole's half-timeintroduction for the ineffective Frederic Piquionne providing a greaterpresence up front.

Demba Ba, who was easily their most effectiveforward, was unlucky with a 25-yard shot which flew out off the insideof the post, but it was too little to affect the outcome.

'For me,today was the biggest win of the season,' said Bolton manager OwenCoyle.

'I said to the players I wanted the points so we can catchLiverpool and Everton for sixth and finish as high up as we can.

'We'vebeen outstanding here at the Reebok and West Ham came up against a verygood side. But we were never comfortable even at 3-0 up because theyhave good players. I have no doubt West Ham will pick up more points.'

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Source: Daily_Mail