Wanderers in top five after first Upton Park win for 41 years

Last updated : 28 August 2005 By Chris Rabbitt
WEST HAM UNITED'S dream return to the Premiership was stopped dead at Upton Park this afternoon as they came up against a stubborn Bolton Wanderers side, determined to end the Hammers' unbeaten start to the season, continuing their own good start in the process.

Though the match did not start off that way. Bolton arrived at Upton Park looking to attack their hosts, and hopefully keep their vociforous home support quiet, but it worked the opposite way, and lead to several lucky escapes for the Whites.

An early chance for Marlon Harewood was spurned after quarter of an hour when he was put through by a lovely pass from Matt Etherington - only to spoon it over the crossbar with the goal gaping.

Harewood was to miss another guilt-edged chance before the interval, with Jaaskelainen in the Bolton goal also saving from Israeli Yossi Benayoun, Marco Gabbidon and a dangerous cross from Paul Konchesky that looped dangerously towards goal.

Bolton managed to fashion a couple of half-chances of their own in the first half, Stelios and Kevin Davies both finding space but also both failing to really test Roy Carroll in the West Ham goal.

After the break the game got a lot more livelier, and the atmosphere heated up following a flurry of bookings in a few minutes, El-Hadji Diouf, Tomas Repka and Kevin Davies all cautioned in quick succession.

10 minutes into the second half and Ivan Campo drilled a 35-yard shot straight for the top corner, only for the lightest of touches from Roy Carroll directing it onto the crossbar.

It would not be long before the deadlock was broken however. A few minutes after Campo's stunning effort, with the goal still shaking, Jay-Jay Okocha had an effort from a similar distance. The shot was parried by Carroll straight to Davies, whose shot was deflected to Kevin Nolan, who notched his first goal of the season to send the travelling support into raptures.

As expected, the home crowd upped the volume, and their charges upped the tempo of the game. But Bolton's sturdy defence, which had prevented defeat on Wanderers' last four away matches, held firm admirably. The closest West Ham came to an equalizer was a curling free-kick from Teddy Sheringham that thumped the upright with Jaaskelainen beaten, but the score stayed 0-1.

As the Hammers piled forward the likelihood for a Bolton counter-attack grew and grew, and eventually with about five minutes to go Jay-Jay Okocha, after winning the ball from Nigel Reo-Coker, sent a sublime ball through to Ivan Campo who made no mistake in slotting home Bolton's second of the afternoon.

Bolton were now in control, and could almost taste victory for the first time at Upton Park since 1964. But the Irons weren't done yet. As another corner was flung into the Bolton box, Hayden Mullins was awarded a late penalty after being bundled to the ground by Nicky Hunt, the resulting spot-kick being buried by Teddy Sheringham.

The expected onslaught ensued, but with only half a minute plus stoppage time remaining, the home fans had little hope of salvaging a point from the game.

Overall, like Bolton last Sunday, West Ham will be pleased with the performance if not the result, and know that if their finishing could be improved dramatically they will have an excellent chance of survival.

As for Bolton they go up to third in the table for at least 24 hours, but could drop back down to 5th if Manchester United and Charlton or Middlesbrough claim all three points at the Riverside in the Super Sunday offerings from the Premiership.

The Whites can now enjoy a break as the international scene takes centre-stage, but will return to action on the 11th September with a mouth-watering clash - a home derby with Blackburn Rovers.

Final score from Upton Park, West Ham 1-2 Bolton