Premier League - Parker inspires Hammers to win
Sat, 27 Nov 17:04:00 2010
Inspirational skipper Scott Parker was on target as West Ham beat Wigan 3-1 in an early-season Premier League relegation six-pointer.
West Ham's Valon Behrami took full advantage of poor defending by Steve Gohouri to stab home in the first half and Victor Obinna gave the hosts breathing space when he fired past Wigan 'keeper Ali Al-Habsi 10 minutes after the break.
Latics’ sub Mauro Boselli squandered a great chance to drag the visitors back into the game when he missed a penalty just after the hour, before Parker sealed the points with a move he started and finished with 15 minutes remaining.
Tom Cleverley eventually beat the West Ham rearguard with a superb shot into the corner on 86 minutes, but the Londoners were good value for their second win of the campaign.
With only one victory all season and five points off safety in the league, under-pressure West Ham boss Avram Grant was given a vote of confidence by his vice-chairman Karren Brady in midweek.
But despite her insistence that Grant was likely to be in charge at the end of the season, the Hammers’ board labelled the clash as a season-saving match.
The Londoners' cause was hampered by the loss of the injured Mark Noble, but the influential Parker recovered from a chest infection as Grant made five changes to the side that lost at Liverpool.
Roberto Martinez’s struggling Wigan also saw Upton Park as the ideal opportunity to drag themselves out of the Premier League mire, but were without their talisman Hugo Rodallega and Antolin Alcaraz following their red cards at Old Trafford.
Jordi Gomez and Franco Di Santo came in for the suspended duo.
In the early exchanges both teams were nervous as passes went astray, and Cleverley showed just how much with a free-kick that sailed deep into the West Ham crowd.
It took 11 minutes before the first real strike on goal as Green got everything behind Mohamed Diame’s shot, while at the other end the Latics survived a penalty appeal as the ball struck the unknowing Ronnie Stam’s arm.
Stam put the incident behind him and seconds later his whipped cross just eluded the on-rushing Gomez and Di Santo.
But it was West Ham who got the vital first goal. Frederic Piquionne’s skilful headed knock-down into the box caught Gohouri dithering and Behrami took full advantage to poke the ball past Al-Habsi for his second goal of the season.
Al-Habsi was called into action again immediately after and did well to beat away Junior Stanislas’ drive, andsurpassed that seconds later with an incredible point-blank save from Piquionne’s header to keep the score 1-0 at the break.
The Frenchman should have doubled the hosts’ advantage minutes after the restart.
Matthew Upson lofted the ball into the box and as the flag stayed down, Piquionne inexplicably side-footed wide from 10 yards out.
Barrera wasted a half chance before Obinna shot wide, but the Ivorian only had to wait another minute before netting his first Premier League goal.
Piquionne laid the ball off just inside the box and Obinna lashed the it past the helpless Al-Habsi.
Martinez threw on Victor Moses and Boselli for Di Santo and Gomez, and Boselli had an instant chance to reduce the arrears when Cleverley went down under Gabbidon’s clumsy challenge in the box.
But Green dived low to his left to stop a poor penalty by the Argentine.
Moses suggested he may have done better with a shot that Green held on to, but the points were made safe for the hostsoon after.
Parker picked up the ball in midfield and as he released Obinna on the left, the England man continued his run to slide home the Nigerian’s resulting cross.
There was still time for one final twist when N’Zogbia jinked into the box. The ball fell to Cleverley and he curled a superb shot beyond Green into the corner.
Gohouri had a goal chalked off for offside five minutes into stoppage time, but the game was already lost.
Despite the win, Wolves’ victory over Sunderland keeps the Hammers rooted to the foot of the table, but on this display Brady’s faith in Grant may yet prove to be an inspired decision.Ian Hare / Eurosport