West Ham still in the hunt for automatic promotion after win at Leicester City
22:36 23 April 2012
Championship: Leicester City 1 West Ham 2
Battling West Ham kept alive their slim hopes of automatic promotion as they came from behind to grab all three points with a quality performance against Leicester City.
Nothing but victory for the Hammers would have prevented Southampton from securing their place in the Premier League and when the home side grabbed an unlikely first-half lead, it seemed that the game may be up.
But the Hammers hit back, equalised in the first half, before Jack Collison’s thumping second half strike earned West Ham their 13th away win of the season and kept them in the automatic promotion hunt.
West Ham started the brighter and the recalled Collison had two shots in the first six minutes as he first saw an effort blocked and then forced a save from keeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Carlton Cole was getting the better of his physical battle with Wes Morgan, but after not quite getting enough on his header from Mark Noble’s free kick, he should have done better when Noble put him in the clear.
The striker sprinted forward, but then dwelt on the ball as Morgan got back to make the vital tackle.
The arrival of Lloyd Dyer for the injured Richie Wellens was the catalyst for Leicester to come to life and after the winger got passed Guy Demel to pick out Jermaine Beckford, only for the striker to head wide.
However, with Leicester beginning to get a foothold in the game, they grabbed the lead on 34 minutes.
Ben Marshall jinked past Matt Taylor down the right wing and when his cross went over the head of James Tomkins, Beckford was there to head home with relish.
The goal seemed to galvanise the Hammers though and they took just five minutes to restore parity.
The excellent Noble slipped the ball to Taylor and he had time to deliver a low cross which centre half Winston Reid was able to slot in at the near post.
West Ham were in control and looked to force their way into the lead before the break.
Ricardo Vaz Te saw his thunderbolt blocked by Morgan as it seemed destined for the net, while Taylor’s corner was headed wide by Tomkins as the Hammers looked for that vital winning goal.
They started the second half in dominant form, pinning Leicester back in their own half as first Noble and then Nolan had chances that flew over the bar.
But on 58 minutes came the vital goal.
Gary O’Neil’s shot was blocked by a defender, but it fell invitingly for Collison who drilled a low shot into the net, despite Schmeichel getting a hand to the shot.
The Hammers proceeded to take complete control, passing the ball around and giving Green the luxury of a fairly incident free 45 minutes.
They should have added to their tally.
Vaz Te set up Collison for a shot that was blocked, Taylor’s corner was almost turned in by Cole and then Tomkins, while defender Sean St Ledger almost put Taylor’s low cross into his own net.
Marshall’s long ranger was the closest Leicester came until injury time when the Hammers almost threw away their lead.
First Nolan somehow managed to shoot straight at the keeper with the goal at his mercy, and then as Leicester piled everyone forward for a free kick, Morgan’s close range header fortunately was straight at Green.
So West Ham are still in the race, but they are still hoping for a miracle. They need to beat Hull City and hope that Southampton can’t beat relegated Coventry City.
But at least they are in with a chance.
West Ham: Green, Demel (Faubert 77), Taylor, Tomkins, Reid, Collison (Lansbury 88), Nolan, Noble, O’Neil, Vaz Te, Cole (Collins 82).
Unused subs: Baldock, Diop.