West Ham United 1 Blues 1

Last updated : 09 February 2008 By Footymad Previewer
The Scotland international wiped out Freddie Ljungberg's first-ever goal for the ten-man Hammers, who had previously seen Kevin Doyle, Benjani, Jermain Defoe and Cristiano Ronaldo each fail from 12 yards.

While Alex McLeish left the East End insisting that City "still had every chance of staying in the Premier League", it proved to be a disappointing afternoon for West Ham United, who failed to beat a bottom-three side for the second week running.

And just what the watching Fabio Capello would have made of this bland contest is anyone's guess.

Following last weekend's defeat at Wigan Athletic, Alan Curbishley made just one change as Lee Bowyer came in for Mark Noble who, having been dropped to the bench, then had to pull out altogether after feeling his hamstring in the warm-up.

Without a win of any kind since Boxing Day, the 18th-placed Blues made a double-switch as Garry O'Connor and the suspended Olivier Kapo were replaced by Mikael Forsell and Gary McSheffrey.

With Signor Capello looking on, Dean Ashton almost got West Ham off to a dream start with an acrobatic kick that Maik Taylor fielded but that was about as good as it got for the England hopeful.

Even so, the Hammers did not have to wait long to break the deadlock.

On seven minutes, George McCartney picked out Carlton Cole's head with a long-throw into the penalty area and, when the towering striker nodded the ball towards the far post, the unmarked Ljungberg stole in to fire the ball into the roof of the net.

Shortly afterwards, Bowyer drilled a low 18-yard shot just inches wide and then Cole threatened with an effort that suggested Birmingham were all set for a torrid afternoon.

But having forced determined draws at both Liverpool and Arsenal plus a win at Tottenham Hotspur, the Blues had other ideas and, on the quarter-hour mark, Lucas Neill was harshly penalised by referee Mark Clattenburg, who pointed to the spot after McFadden tumbled under the Aussie's challenge.

After dusting himself down, the Scot finally beat the correctly-guessing Green who - having been overlooked by England yet again - was mischievously sporting gloves bearing 'England's No.6' on the cuffs.

Fortunately for West Ham though, Green did then manage to save the unmarked Forssell's close-range header while, at the other end, Matthew Etherington saw his powerful, rising shot pawed away by Taylor, who then got down to clutch Hayden Mullins' low, long-ranger to keep it all-square at the break.

Early in the second half, McSheffrey's low 20-yarder clipped Anton Ferdinand's heel, before scorching past the foot of Green's left-hand post and, while Ashton sent a couple of efforts wide, West Ham really had lost their way.

That was the cue for Julien Faubert to step from the bench as the lively Ljungberg partnered Ashton up front and, while former Blues defender, Matthew Upson, had a goal-bound header saved, that was the closest the Hammers were to come in a feisty finale.

Forssell fired across the face of goal, before Bowyer was dismissed for a two-footed lunge on Damien Johnson and Birmingham took their own yellow card count to five.