West Ham 1 Aston Villa 0 – match report

Paul Lambert’s first competitive game as Aston Villa manager ended in defeat as West Ham captain Kevin Nolan netted a debateable winner at Upton Park.

Paul Lambert’s first competitive game as Aston Villa manager ended in defeat as West Ham captain Kevin Nolan netted a debateable winner at Upton Park.

Nolan finished from close range shortly before half-time but the assistant referee had initially raised his flag for offside only to change his mind and award the goal.

Villa played some clever passing football at times but were unable to break down a stubborn West Ham defence and have now failed to win their last six away opening Premier League games.

Lambert handed debuts to four of Villa’s summer arrivals as defenders Ron Vlaar and Matthew Lowton started in defence, while Karim El Ahmadi and Brett Holman were both named in midfield.

There was also a place on the bench for 18-year-old Graham Burke after he impressed in pre-season while Villa old boy James Collins was included in West Ham’s starting line-up.

Boiling temperatures in London ensured a patient approach from both sides and Villa – who lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation – knocked it around neatly in the first half although they rarely tested Jussi Jaaskelainen.

The Hammers were presented with a free-kick in a dangerous position in the 35th minute when Dutch centre-back Vlaar hauled down Carlton Cole, but Nolan’s low shot flew into the side netting.

Villa were guilty of giving away fare too many fouls and were punished five minutes before the interval when Ciaran Clark was booked for a late challenge on Mohamed Diame.

From the resulting free-kick Mark Noble floated a dangerous ball towards the back post, which skimmed off the head of Collins and was tapped back across goal by Ricardo Vaz Te.

Villa were unable to clear the danger and Hammers captain Nolan popped up to calmly stroke the ball past Given from inside the six-yard box.

Villa’s players appealed for offside, and assistant referee Simon Long had initially raised his flag, but changed his mind after consultation with referee Mike Dean and the goal stood with Vlaar deemed to have played West Ham on side.

Lambert introduced Weimann for Holman in the 61st minute to give Villa more presence in attack, however, it was the home side who carried the greater goal threat and should have doubled their lead moments later.

Vaz Te escaped down the right flank and his cut back picked out the late run of Nolan who had acres of space near the penalty spot but saw his low shot blocked by a combination of Given and Vlaar.

Villa had a rare shot on goal in 75th minute when the West Ham defence backed off which allowed Vlaar to drill a low effort from distance which was saved by Jaaskelainen.

Carlton Cole missed a sitter at the other end with 15 minutes left on the clock when he escaped the attentions of Clark but could only direct his header from Matt Taylor’s delivery wide of goal.

Vaz Te had a chance to put the icing on the cake for the East London club in injury team when he was sent clear with just Given to beat, but Nathan Baker slid into clear the ball off the line.

By Timothy Abraham

Comments for: "West Ham 1 Aston Villa 0 – match report"

Stu

How, exactly, was it "debateable"? Ahhh, I see.

You've actually totally missed the fact Clark played the ball on to Vaz Te.

How embarrassing for you, Timothy.