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West Ham punished by one that got away

Sunday, 28 October 2012 - 3:25pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Wicked commentators might argue that any team managed by Sam Allardyce would be well suited to playing at a stadium where, for a portion of the year, try-lines are marked 100 yards apart.


Wigan 2 West Ham 1

Wicked commentators might argue that any team managed by Sam Allardyce would be well suited to playing at a stadium where, for a portion of the year, try-lines are marked 100 yards apart.

Yet West Ham United are evolving into something more than the up-and-under prototype favoured by Allardyce. Set-pieces will always be an asset but for every Andy Carroll there is a Yossi Benayoun. For every Kevin Nolan, there is a Mark Noble.

That such balance was not showcased here in a deserved defeat to Wigan Athletic - who won at home for the first time this season - meant an opportunity was missed to move into the top four at a ground where modern West Ham began its journey.

In May 2011, the club was relegated at Wigan in an afternoon that typified performances throughout a campaign of embarrassment. Two goals ahead, they lost in injury time and Avram Grant was dismissed in the tunnel before he could even reach the dressing room.

It prompted an extreme transformation in culture and there have been few disappointments since.

One of Allardyce's inconveniences, however, came last summer when he failed to secure the signing of Ivan Ramis, who decided instead to join Wigan from Real Mallorca. It was Allardyce's plan to pair the Spaniard with James Collins. As it transpired, Collins was supposed to be organising his defence when Jean Beausejour delivered a corner and Ramis was left unmarked.

Allardyce later claimed that Ramis pushed Winston Reid to gain space, but even he could not argue about the quality of the volley which spectacularly zipped past goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez called it a "striker's strike". It was the second time this season Ramis has scored against West Ham, his other goal coming in a 4-1 Capital One Cup victory.

The pattern from there was set: Wigan passed, moved; passed, passed, moved. The visitors chased and, during moments of significance, stood still.

Allardyce bemoaned his team's technique. On that front, Wigan were "10 times better", he said. "We were ridiculously poor."

A second goal arrived from a similar process to the first. Shortly after the break, Beausejour crossed, West Ham did not look too bothered about it and James McArthur trundled into the box to strike home a volley.

Allardyce substituted two midfielders for forwards and reverted to scrimmage. James Tomkins hit the bar in one such movement and later headed in a consolation. But possession was regularly surrendered and with a limited line of supply the approach was otherwise hopeless.

 




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