Hammers slip back into bottom three

Burnley 2 West Ham United 1 Burnley boss Brian Laws had deadline day signings David Nugent and Danny Fox to thank for the victory that sent the Clarets leap-frogging over the Hammers into the safety zone writes Steve Blowers. And although West Ham s new

Burnley 2 West Ham United 1

Burnley boss Brian Laws had deadline day signings David Nugent and Danny Fox to thank for the victory that sent the Clarets leap-frogging over the Hammers into the safety zone writes Steve Blowers.

And although West Ham's new capture, Ilan, stepped from the bench to net on his debut, the boy from Brazil still could not stop the East Enders from finding themselves planted back in the bottom three, with 14 games left to play.

Without a Premier League win since late-October, the 19th-placed Clarets had made two changes from the side that had lost to table-topping Chelsea last Saturday, as former Celtic midfielder, Fox, and Portsmouth's on-loan Nugent, came in for Christian Kalvenes and substitute Chris Eagles.

And as the quarter-hour mark approached, those two fresh faces paid an instant dividend for Laws.

A sloppy cross-field pass was salvaged by Fox, whose long punt forward found Nugent, who surprisingly got the better of the retreating Matthew Upson before lobbing the advancing Robert Green from 15 yards.

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Gianfranco Zola had wasted no time bringing his three deadline day signings into the squad as Benni McCarthy started up front, while Ilan and Mido took their places on the bench.

Following Hammers hat-trick of draws, the Italian made three changes from last week's stalemate against Blackburn Rovers, with top-scorer Carlton Cole, McCarthy and Scott Parker replacing Frank Nouble, Alessandro Diamanti and substitute Radoslav Kovac.

Despite kicking off with a more adventurous 4-4-2 formation, West Ham had offered little threat in the opening exchanges but after finding themselves trailing to that Nugent opener, the visitors finally galvanised themselves into action.

First McCarthy sliced well wide and then the new boy squared into the danger zone, where Cole just could not get on to the end of the pass.

Jack Collison also saw his low 20-yarder deflect off ex-Hammer Tyrone Mears before Fox beat Cole to the loose ball and then the well-placed Brian Jensen held the England striker's angled effort at the base of his near post.

On 33 minutes, the Hammers looked all set to equalise, when the powerful Parker carved deep into Burnley territory before releasing the lime-green booted McCarthy, who did everything right in rounding the Clarets' 'keeper, only for Leon Cort to deny the South African with a last-gasp slide off the line.

That incredible clearance preserved an interval lead for Laws' men and the agony was compounded for McCarthy, whose knee injury saw him replaced by Mido for the restart.

The energetic Egyptian quickly went in search of a debut goal and, on 48 minutes, his scorching 20-yarder flew inches wide of the left hand post before nestling in the shivering Hammers fans packed behind Jensen's goal.

But West Ham's hopes of mounting a comeback took a tumble, ten minutes into the second-half, when Collison nudged over the marauding Mears on the right-hand edge of the area and the cunning Fox steered the consequent, angled free-kick over Green and under the far angle to double the Lancastrians' lead.

In reply, Parker - who saw both Kevin McDonald and Fox booked for fouling him -had a low shot tipped aside by Jensen and, after Junior Stanislas replaced Collison, Cole bundled the ball over the line, only to see his effort ruled out by an offside flag.

With 20 minutes remaining, a juddering Clarke Carlisle challenge left the lively Stanislas buried in the Turf Moor pitch but after dusting himself down the Hammers substitute then saw his inswinging free-kick agonisingly clip the Clarets' crossbar.

Zola introduced Ilan in place of Mark Noble for the final quarter-hour and, with ten minutes left, the Brazilian, ten yards out, picked up the pieces after Mido collided with Jensen in pursuit of Cole's cross.

Having given themselves a late glimmer of hope, the Hammers boldly went in search of an equaliser and, in a frantic finale, Ilan saw his header steered aside by Jensen, while Mido cracked the base of the 'keeper's left-hand post but, in the end, time simply ran out for Zola's visitors, who returned to Upton Park wondering just how they had left Turf Moor empty handed.

CLARETS: Jensen; Fox (Edgar 86), Mears, Carlisle, Cort; Elliott, McDonald, Bikey, Blake (Paterson 72); Fletcher, Nugent (Thompson 89). Unused subs: Weaver, Duff, Eagles, Cork.

HAMMERS: Green; Faubert, Spector, Tomkins, Upson; Collison (Stanislas 61), Parker, Noble (Ilan 76), Behrami; McCarthy (Mido 46), Cole. Unused subs: Stech , Kovac, Da Costa, Ilunga.

Referee: Howard Webb (South Yorks). Attendance: 21,001

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