Bowyer's bright form deepens gloom for Zola

Birmingham City 1 West Ham United 0

Family ties did not stop Lee Bowyer delivering another painful blow at the end of a difficult week for ailing West Ham. The 32-year-old east Londoner is from a family of Hammers supporters but it was his goal seven minutes into the second half that left his former club in the bottom three of the Premier League.

It gave Birmingham a fourth consecutive victory and a run of seven unbeaten to defend at home to Blackburn on Tuesday, when they will be confident of maintaining their unaccustomed proximity to the leading group. West Ham go to Bolton the same evening for a fixture, even at this stage of the season, that will be labelled a six-pointer.

Bowyer's goal, capping the latest in a series of excellent displays in his attacking midfield role, was particularly uncomfortable for Gianfranco Zola, for whom he made only six appearances before he was allowed to switch to St Andrew's on loan last January in a move that became permanent at the beginning of this season, with no transfer fee involved.

"It does not surprise me that he is playing such a key role at Birmingham and I'm pleased for him that he is being successful," Zola said. "But when he left West Ham it was at a time when he was coming back from injury, was not playing regularly and needed games.

"The financial situation did not help when the move was made permanent but there were other reasons for letting him go. The possibility for him to play regularly was not there with us."

His current manager does not underestimate the bargain he acquired when Bowyer opted to stay in the Midlands. "I don't know what price you would put on him now," Alex McLeish said. "I knew he had quality and sometimes it just needs the right atmosphere for a player to shine and I know things were not right for him at West Ham.

"But he has succeeded my expectations. He loves the atmosphere in the dressing room and the training ground here and it has given him a new lease of life."

Birmingham probably should have scored more goals. Cameron Jerome, denied by Rob Green in the fourth minute, headed a good chance over the bar just before half-time. After the break, Liam Ridgewell knocked the ball over the bar when it looked easier to score and Christian Benitez, clear after Julien Faubert's stumble, dragged his shot wide.

Nonetheless, there were reasons for West Ham to feel they are not enjoying the best of luck. In the week in which Dean Ashton, the striker in whom Zola had such high hopes, reached the sad end of an agonising line in his ultimately doomed battle to continue his career, his team's shortcomings up front were again uncomfortably visible, although their Italian forward, Alessandro Diamanti, had a frustrating afternoon.

Having gone within inches, twice, of sneaking shots the right side of the posts in the first half, he went close twice more in the second half before the sight of a curled free kick bending away late as West Ham gamely chased an equaliser proved just too much for him, causing him to tear open the front of his shirt.

To make matters worse, Zola's side had Mark Noble sent off with 12 minutes left after referee Lee Mason booked him twice in six minutes, the first time for dissent, the second for a tackle from behind.

Zola had not cared for Mason's performance even before that. "Referees are human and make mistakes but he made too many today," he said. "And I didn't like the way he reacted when some of my players complained at the end. We had a right to complain."

Attendance: 28,203

Referee: Lee Mason

Man of the match: Bowyer

Match rating: 5/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent