Watford 1 West Ham United 0: Zola suffers first defeat after Mullins own-goal debacle
Wednesday 24 September 2008
Not a great day, then, all told for West Ham. In the morning, they found Sheffield United had won their compensation claim against them after the Blades' relegation from the Premier League last year in the wake of the Carlos Tevez affair, with a figure of £30m being bandied about. So, just when it suddenly seemed as if a run in the Carling Cup could be as valuable in terms of money-making as morale-building, along came this third-round result.
Having won his first game in charge at a canter four days ago, Gianfranco Zola unexpectedly endured his first defeat as the east Londoners' manager. He surely never thought it would all be as easy as last Saturday against Newcastle, but it took a Championship side, not a Premier League one, to remind him of that.
Zola said: "It hasn't been a great day for us but I knew it would be tough here. This game came at the worst moment. I said what has happened doesn't have to change our attitude."
Thinking about what a possible fine could do to the Hammers' transfer targets in January, he added: "Let me consider it when it happens and if it happens. We have to carry on working like this until January."
If it was the last thing the Hammers needed in what was a bad 24 hours even by their recent standards, it was something that Watford and their manager Aidy Boothroyd arguably deserved. Not only did they take the game to the visitors, forcing several saves from reserve goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka, but they also felt they were owed something, from somewhere, for what happened last Saturday.
At the weekend, hosting Reading, they were on the receiving end of a diabolical and plain wrong officiating decision, when the ball ran over the byline – but not between the posts – and a linesman flagged for a goal. So perhaps the own goal here after 70 minutes from Hayden Mullins was some sort of footballing payback.
For a game that had showcased two goalkeepers in fine form, Watford's Scott Loach being the other, it was unfortunate an error by one of them should play a crucial part in deciding the outcome. Lee Williamson curled in a free-kick from near the touchline, the Czech Lastuvka missed it and the ball bounced off Mullins almost apologetically into the goal.
Despite both managers resting half their first team each, there was an imbalance on the pitch, as the hosts pressed for an early advantage. After just five minutes Ross Jenkins sent a header from 10 yards just wide of the post and then Lionel Ainsworth tried his luck twice in a minute. First, the winger sent a shot a yard past the frame, which was clapped as a goal by home fans in reference to Saturday's "ghost goal", and then found Lastuvka equal to his audacious chip from 25 yards.
David di Michele had been the hero with two goals at the weekend for the Hammers but the Italian was denied here by Loach who showed he has a bright future.
A delighted Boothroyd said: "After Saturday anything would have done. I'm thrilled with the result. It was a very young team I put out. We rode our luck and the players deserved it. We stopped them playing and imposed ourselves."
Watford (4-5-1): Loach; Mariappa, Bromby, Demerit, Parkes; Jenkins, Smith (Harley, 70), Bangura, Williamson (Bennett, 70), Ainsworth; Hoskins (Young, 80). Substitutes not used: Lee (gk), Eustace, Avinel, Oshodi.
West Ham (4-3-3): Lastuvka; Faubert, Neill, Upson, Lopez; Boa Morte (Parker, 61), Mullins, Noble; Etherington, Sears, Di Michele (Reid, 70). Substitutes not used: Green (gk), Ilunga, Behrami, Collison, Stanislas
Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire)
Latest in Sport
Arsenal and Puma unveil world's first left-footed football
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?
Liverpool's best XI of the season so far: Raheem Sterling should play in the front three while Steven Gerrard remains on the bench
WWE Raw results: Brock Lesnar suspended for post-Wrestlemania 31 rampage after losing title to Seth Rollins
Liverpool injury news: Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren expected to be ready for Arsenal clash
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 3 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans