Blues end Hammers hoodoo
Birmingham finally ended their torrid record against West Ham to win 1-0 at St Andrews.
By Elliot Ball
Last Updated: 13/12/09 9:21am
Birmingham City continue their surge up the Premier League table after they finally ended a torrid record against West Ham United to win 1-0 at St Andrews.
The Blues had failed to beat the Hammers in their own backyard for over 24 years but entered Saturday's contest six games unbeaten, whereas their opponents travelled to the West Midlands after a 4-0 drubbing to Manchester United.
And it went with the form book as former West Ham favourite Lee Bowyer, enjoying an Indian summer with City, popped up with the second-half winner.
Gianfranco Zola's side had chances to get back on level terms - substitute Kieran Dyer hit the post - but the visitors return to East London with nothing to show for their efforts as they saw Mark Noble sent-off late on.
The result sees West Ham drop into the relegation places after Wolves beat Tottenham but the day belonged to Bowyer, who saw his side go eighth in the table to allow City supporters to dream of European football.
Bowyer won the game's first corner and, from Sebastian Larsson's cross, the home side came close to taking the lead.
Roger Johnson got on the end of Larsson's near-post ball and his first time flick forced an excellent close-range save out of Robert Green. Liam Ridgewell was first to react to the rebound but his shot was blocked.
Radoslav Kovac became the first player to be yellow carded after a challenge on James McFadden. Then Ferguson was booked after 16 minutes for kicking the ball away after West Ham had been awarded a free-kick.
Bowyer got on the end of a low cross from Cameron Jerome after starting the move himself but he failed to make proper contact on his shot which flew wide of the far post.
West Ham came more into the game after the half-hour mark and Alessandro Diamanti twice went close in the space of 30 seconds.
First he drilled a powerful shot into the side netting and then was only just wide with a swerving effort from the edge of the box.
Ferguson, who saw only Bowyer outshine him, was again impressing in the centre of the park for Blues and a superb pass picked out the run of Benitez.
But Green was alert to the situation and came out to block his shot and also the rebound attempt from the Ecuador international.
Junior Stanislas was adopting a shoot-on-sight policy and Joe Hart went down to his right to keep out a long-range effort which took a slight deflection.
But Jerome should have done better in first-half injury-time when heading over from a Ridgewell centre.
Stanislas was booked with seconds remaining of the half for hauling back Benitez.
Benitez had the ball in the net after a minute of the second period but he had strayed a yard offside.
After 52 minutes Bowyer broke the deadlock.
Jerome and Benitez combined before the ball was threaded through to Bowyer and he drilled the ball past Hart from 10 yards out.
The 32-year-old was mobbed by his team-mates but only indulged in only the minimum of celebrations after scoring against his former club.
Birmingham came close to doubling their lead when Benitez released Jerome in space inside the box and his rising shot was turned aside for a corner by Green.
Ridgewell then turned the ball wide at the far post after Jerome had flicked on another dangerous inswinging free-kick from Larsson.
Hart diverted a low shot from Diamanti around the post before the visitors made a double change, bringing on Dyer and Jack Collison in place of Kovac and Stanislas.
Dyer almost made an instant impact, cutting in from the left flank and seeing his shot crash against the far post.
Noble was booked for a push in the back on Bowyer and Johnson followed him into the referee's notebook for a challenge on Dyer.
The Hammers were reduced to ten men after 79 minutes when Noble brought down Benitez and was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Hart denied Guillermo Franco after he had been put clear by Scott Parker and at the other end Jerome found himself one on one with Green but shot wide.Birmingham had to survive a late onslaught and were indebted again to some rock solid defending from Johnson and Scott Dann before claiming the points.
|Birmingham City||Team Statistics||West Ham United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||3|
|4||Shots off Target||8|