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19:13 15th August 2009

Beaten But Far From Hammered

Wolves 0

West Ham United 2 (Noble 22, Upson 69)

Whilst they were never outplayed, Wolves lost out on their return to the top flight as West Ham scored at the midway point of both halves.

But Mick McCarthy's men made the Hammers fight for the points and it wasn't a biased view in the Pressbox that Wolves were worth a point from the game.

Nenad Milijaš and Greg Halford were the men making their debut for Wolves whilst there was a welcome return from Chelsea for on loan defender Michael Mancienne.

Before the game new Vice president Robert Plant was introduced to the crowd and then there was a minute's applause in memory of the late Sir Bobby Robson.

The noise inside the stadium was incredible as West Ham kicked-off attacking the North Bank end and inside the first minute the visitors defence was tested when Halford launched a long throw into the box.

The Hammers responded with a Mark Noble cross that Carlton Cole laid back to Jack Collison whose low shot was saved by Wayne Hennessey.

Robert Green did well to take a Halford centre with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Andy Keogh lying in wait and when play switched to the other end Julien Faubert's low cross flew dangerously through the six-yard box and past the far post for a goal kick.

In the 13th minute a great piece of defensive work from Matthew Upson almost certainly prevented an opener for Wolves. Halford headed Stephen Ward's cross back into the heart of the area where Keogh was about to pull the trigger until the West Ham skipper threw himself in to clear.

Seconds later Ebanks-Blake got underneath Matt Jarvis's cross and his header went high over the bar.

Keogh shot over the angle from just outside the area after Milijaš and Ebanks-Blake had created the opportunity and then James Collins blocked Jarvis's angled shot after the winger had cut into the box.

After absorbing Wolves' pressure West Ham took the lead in the 22nd minute with their first on target attempt. Luis Jimenez squared a pass to Noble who picked his spot from 22-yards to beat Hennessey all ends up.

There was a chance for Jarvis to level matters seven minutes later but he hurriedly drove over the bar as he was closed down by a defender.

But Wolves were fortunate not to concede a second after Cole had beat the offside trap. The striker's touch took him away from goal but he still had only Hennessey to beat. His shot bounced off the keeper's legs to Noble whose low shot was kicked off the line by Jody Craddock.

From Noble's corner Hennessey had to tip Herita Ilunga's powerful header over the bar. Still the danger hadn't passed and from Noble's next flag-kick there was a tremendous scramble before Karl Henry blocked and the ball was cleared.

Before the break Halford was too high with a long distance shot and Milijaš saw his shot deflected narrowly wide after Ward had played the ball back to him.

Half-Time: Wolves 0 West Ham 1

Just 20 seconds after the restart a fantastic save from Green denied Milijaš whose dipping shot was destined for the back of the net until the England keeper athletically turned it over.

From Milijaš's corner the ball was half cleared to Jarvis on the edge of the area. He struggled to control it but Halford ran in to hit a first time shot that saw Green at his best again as he dived to push the ball away.

Kevin Foley came to the rescue in the 53rd minute after Craddock had miscued a clearance leaving Collison in the clear. He rounded Hennessey and rolled the ball goalwards but Foley popped up on the line to clear.

Milijaš shot inches over the bar after connecting with a low Jarvis cross and Green saved with his legs after Ebanks-Blake burst through after Keogh and Milijaš had dissected the West Ham defence.

Ilunga and Foley both needed treatment after a nasty clash of heads. Foley was able to return but the Hammers man was led from the pitch clearly dazed to be replaced by Jonathan Spector.

In the 69th minute West Ham grabbed a killer second when, from Noble's corner, Upson headed home.

Having used all of their substitutes, Wolves had to play out the final ten minutes with ten men after Ebanks-Blake limped off with a hamstring injury.

West Ham almost scored a third when they broke and Scott Parker squared the ball to the unmarked Jimenez who shot straight at Hennessey.

In the final minute Faubert fouled Jarvis just to the side of the visitors box. Halford lifted the free-kick to the far post where substitute Richard Stearman's header was turned behind by Green to deny Wolves a consolation.

Wolves: Hennessey, Foley (Vokes 75), Ward, Milijaš (Edwards 80), Henry, Craddock (capt), Mancienne (Stearman 66), Halford, Ebanks-Blake, Keogh, Jarvis.

Unused subs: Elokobi, Surman, Hahnemann, Jones.

West Ham: Green, Dyer (Stanislas 73), Parker, Cole (Nouble 90), Upson, Jimenez, Collins, Faubert, Ilunga (Spector 65), Collison.

Unused subs: Gabbidon, Kurucz, Payne, Hines.

Referee: C. Foy.

Attendance: 28,674.

    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.