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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 August 2007, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Birmingham 0-1 West Ham
By Mandeep Sanghera

Stephen Kelly (in blue) challenges Kieron Dyer in a tackle which West Ham though should have earned them a penalty at Birmingham
Kelly (in blue) escaped conceding a penalty for this challenge on Dyer
West Ham notched their first win of the season as they beat Birmingham courtesy of a Mark Noble penalty.

Midfielder Noble was West Ham's best player and scored from the spot after Blues keeper Colin Doyle rashly upended Craig Bellamy.

The Hammers might have had a spot-kick earlier on when Stephen Kelly appeared to impede Kieron Dyer.

Noble had also hit the post with a free-kick against a Blues side lacking the quality to match their effort.

The game had marked the return of West Ham skipper Matthew Upson to St Andrews for the first time since his controversial exit from the club in January.

He was booed with his every touch of the ball in what turned out to be one of the few points of mention during a poor opening half.

The visitors could have had an early penalty when debutant Dyer appeared to be unfairly blocked by Kelly as he tried to race on to a Bellamy pass.

606: DEBATE
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But the referee waved away Dyer's protests in a match continually broken up by frequent fouls as both sides grappled with each other.

Noble almost broke the deadlock only to see his well-struck free-kick come back off the base of the post.

Doyle did well with a smart save after a cross came off one of his own defenders but both sides lacked an edge in attack.

That was the case until the stroke of half-time when a home free-kick ricocheted to Radhi Jaidi whose shot was palmed away by keeper Robert Green.

West Ham came out with more urgency and purpose after the break and Noble saw a well-struck shot blocked just inside the Blues box by the head of a diving Jaidi.

Zamora put an effort over and Bellamy mistimed a strike from close range after the influential Noble crossed from the by-line.

The visitors placed increasing pressure on the home defence and Birmingham finally buckled after 70 minutes when Doyle unnecessarily brought down Bellamy.

Noble sent the Blues keeper the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick and, despite Gary McSheffrey have a late free-kick saved, the home side could not deny West Ham a welcome win.


  • Birmingham manager Steve Bruce:
    "Everybody in the ground knows that Bellamy played for the penalty. You could see it coming. The ball was already out and there was contact.

    "I am deeply frustrated because we were harshly treated on Wednesday. In the end that does cost you.

    "Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree, but it does seem to be the small clubs do not seem to get those decisions."

  • West Ham boss Alan Curbishley:
    "If a keeper comes out like that he has to get the ball and he didn't.

    "I felt the incident when Kieron Dyer was fouled was a certain penalty as well.

    "We were a bit edgy to start with but once we got going we were OK and could have had a couple more goals."


    Birmingham: Doyle, Parnaby, Jaidi, Ridgewell, Kelly, Larsson, Muamba (Sadler 80), Nafti (Jerome 75), Kapo, O'Connor, Forssell (McSheffrey 65).
    Subs Not Used: Maik Taylor, Vine.

    Booked: Parnaby, Nafti, Ridgewell, Kapo.

    West Ham: Green, Spector (Gabbidon 86), Ferdinand, Upson, McCartney, Dyer, Noble, Mullins, Etherington, Bellamy, Zamora.
    Subs Not Used: Walker, Ashton, Bowyer, Boa Morte.

    Booked: Mullins, Spector.

    Goals: Noble 70 pen.

    Att: 24,961

    Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).



    SEE ALSO
    Saturday's football photos
    18 Aug 07 |  Football


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