Ricardo Vaz Te goals revive faltering West Ham

West Ham United 3 Birmingham City 3

Ricardo Vaz Te's late penalty salvaged a point for West Ham United yesterday, but Sam Allardyce fears his side's first-half display may ultimately cost them in their efforts to claim an automatic promotion spot in the Championship.

Birmingham City, who consolidated their position in fourth, took full advantage, establishing a 3-1 half-time lead that appeared destined to deliver a valuable victory before Vaz Te claimed his second goal of the game three minutes from the finish.

West Ham were unable to fashion a fourth, however, and, stirring as the recovery was, have now failed to win in seven successive home games, leaving them three points behind second-placed Reading who travel to Brighton tonight.

"Our first-half suicide was unbelievable," said the West Ham manager. "When we set out to win a game you have to be aware of what the opposition do and we played straight into their hands. I said before the game that if you come off the pitch with a clean sheet, then you'll win the game, but I must have been talking Swahili.

"The only way back for us is if Reading slip up tomorrow and Southampton beat them on Friday and we win all four games left."

For the Birmingham manager, Chris Hughton, the disappointment of conceding a late goal was balanced by the knowledge that results elsewhere had been kind to his side who now look certain to finish in the top six. "After the disappointment of losing a 3-1 lead, the reality sets in that this is a good point," he said.

Jordan Mutch put the visitors ahead in the 27th minute when he was allowed to advance unchallenged towards the home goal before beating Green with a left-foot shot, with the keeper rooted to the spot. Three minutes later Marlon King made it two.

Vaz Te appeared to have kick-started the recovery in first-half added time but Chris Burke immediately responded when the home side failed to deal with a corner adequately.

Boos greeted the half-time whistle but West Ham's response was far more encouraging, and Carlton Cole struck his side's second goal with a left-foot shot from Kevin Nolan's pull-back with 20 minutes remaining.

The West Ham pressure grew relentless and they were eventually rewarded when Burke blocked Henri Lansbury's shot, allowing Vaz Te to claim his fifth goal in four games.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Green 5; Tomkins 6, Faye 5, Reid 5, McCartney 6 (Collins, 34, 7); O'Neil 6, Noble 6 (Baldock, 82), Nolan 8, Vaz Te 9; Cole 7, Maynard 6 (Lansbury, h-t, 7). Substitutes not used Taylor, Demel.

Birmingham City (4-5-1): Myhill 7; Ramage 7, Davies 7, Caldwell 6, Murphy 6; Burke 7, Fahey 7, N'Daw 6 (Zigic 68, 6), Mutch 8, Elliott 7; King 7 (Townsend, 80). Substitutes not used Doyle, Huseklepp, Redmond.

Referee J Moss.

Scorers. West Ham: Vaz Te 45, pen 89, Cole 70. Birmingham: Mutch 27, King 30, Burke 45

West Ham United (4-4-2): Green 5; Tomkins 6, Faye 5, Reid 5, McCartney 6 (Collins, 34, 7); O'Neil 6, Noble 6 (Baldock, 82), Nolan 8; Vaz Te 9, Cole 7, Maynard 6(Lansbury, h-t, 7). Substitutes not used Taylor, Demel.

Birmingham City (4-5-1): Myhill 7; Ramage 7, Davies 7, Caldwell 6, Murphy 6; Burke 7, Fahey 7, N'Daw 6 (Zigic 68, 6), Mutch 8, Elliott 7; King 7 (Townsend, 80). Substitutes not used Doyle, Huseklepp, Redmond.

Referee Jonathan Moss

Man of the Match: Vaz Te (West Ham)

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