Zamora strike denies Villa
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Aston Villa maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-1 draw at West Ham.
Aston Villa maintained their unbeaten start to the season with an entertaining 1-1 draw with West Ham United at Upton Park on Sunday afternoon.
Bobby Zamora's fifth goal of the season cancelled out Liam Ridgewell's early opener to give West Ham a share of the spoils.
Much of the hype before the game surrounded new signings Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, but Tevez only made an appearance as a second-half substitute, while Mascherano was left on the bench.
Villa began the game in confident fashion and made a dream start with the opening goal after just four minutes through Ridgewell.
Gabriel Agbonlahor rose highest to meet Gareth Barry's corner and although Roy Carroll produced a superb save to keep out the youngster's header, Ridgewell was on hand to knock the ball home from close range.
Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen almost gifted West Ham a route back into the game on eight minutes when he scuffed a clearance straight to the feet of Marlon Harewood, but the big striker could only fire his shot wide of the target - much to the relief of Sorensen.
The visitors really should have doubled their lead on the quarter hour when Juan Pablo Angel found space inside the West Ham box to meet Barry's corner, but the Colombian thumped his header against the crossbar.
West Ham were struggling to deal with Villa at set-pieces and they had a lucky escape on 22 minutes when they failed to clear another Barry corner properly and Ridgewell just failed to connect with Luke Moore's cross right in front of goal.
Seconds later, Agbonlahor tried his luck from the edge of the box with a powerful left-footed shot, which Carroll did well to palm out.
Carroll was called into the action again on 25 minutes when he got down low to save Moore's header from Barry's cross.
Villa were unlucky not to double their lead on 36 minutes when Barry sent over another inviting cross for Angel, who saw his powerful header clip off the top of the crossbar.
West Ham, who were struggling to have any impact in the final third, finally created a half chance on 38 minutes when Nigel Reo-Coker worked a neat one-two with Bobby Zamora to burst towards goal, but he stabbed his shot off target.
West Ham outlined their intentions right at the start of the second half when Reo-Coker fed in Harewood, but the striker drilled his shot from an acute angle just wide.
The home side came close to equalising on 51 minutes when Reo-Coker burst down the right and crossed towards Zamora, but Martin Laursen got back to clear the ball before Zamora could strike.
However, from the resulting corner, West Ham drew level when Paul Konchesky saw his header from the edge of the box flicked into the net by the knee of Zamora.
Villa came agonisingly close to restoring their lead two minutes later when Stilian Petrov burst through on goal and lobbed Carroll, but only to see Tyrone Mears race back to acrobatically clear his shot off the line.
Two minutes later, Anton Ferdinand came to West Ham's rescue when Carroll palmed out Barry's powerful shot straight to Agbonlahor, who saw his cross towards Steven Davis kicked off the line by Ferdinand.
Hammers boss Alan Pardew gave the home fans what they wanted just past the hour when he brought on Tevez for Harewood, as he searched for a winner.
Tevez showed some of his silky skills 15 minutes from time when he jinked his way past Laursen and sent over a dangerous cross, but no one was on hand to collect the Argentine's cut back.
Villa threw on Milan Baros for Angel ten minutes from time and the Czech ace had a great chance to score immediately after coming on, but he could just not get on the end of Petrov's clever free kick.
|West Ham United||Team Statistics||Aston Villa|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|1||Shots on Target||6|
|4||Shots off Target||2|