Eggert Magnusson slumped so deep into his seat as the Premiership's youngest goalscorer condemned the Premiership's newest chairman to a first defeat last night that only his bald pate remained visible above the advertising hoardings at an otherwise raucous Goodison Park. Eradicating the uncertainty that threatened West Ham's season is one thing but, as the desperate agitation of the owner illustrated, a cure for their travel sickness is quite another.
A first taste of life on the English road proved a chilling experience for the Icelander and not only on account of Merseyside weather that would have left him pining for home. In arctic temperatures and against a howling wind that dictated the flow of the game, the new West Ham chairman saw Carlos Tevez confirm he is the Argentine who left many drooling at the World Cup but just fail to provide the "inspiration or luck that could turn our away form quite quickly", according to their tormented manager, Alan Pardew.
They were dominant when wind-assisted but otherwise of minimal resistance, and a sequence of nine consecutive away defeats in all competitions and only one league goal beyond Upton Park this season reveals to every Hammer, recently arrived or not, the reason for their slip to 17th.
"Our performance level was high, we created more chances than we have in many other away games this season but we are just not punishing teams," rued Pardew. "That's been the story on the road all season. We can take a lot of positives into the game against Wigan on Wednesday but it is points we need and we are putting a lot of pressure on our home games with results like this."
What made this reverse so much worse for West Ham was the strength, or rather the lack of it, in the Everton side they confronted yesterday. Hardly flowing with confidence themselves after a return of only two wins in 11 League games, the home side, already depleted despite the return of Andrew Johnson from a hamstring strain, lost three players to injury during a bizarre 30-second spell in training on Saturday - the influential Mikel Arteta and Phil Neville plus promising young striker Victor Anichebe. They approached the 90th minute with five centre-halves and four forwards on the pitch, yet survived a torrid opening thanks to inspired defending and the excellent Tim Howard to fashion the clearer chances throughout and end the evening seventh in the table. No wonder their manager, David Moyes, called this "an unbelievable result".
Tevez, his West Ham future assured until the end of the season following talks with the man who controls his career path, Kia Joorabchian, tested Howard twice before the break and fashioned a glorious chance for Lee Bowyer in the 18th minute that, with a clean connection and from only six yards out, the American goalkeeper deflected over his crossbar. A pivotal moment.
In Andy van der Meyde Everton had their own, previously harangued foreign import to brighten a sterile afternoon. Signed from Internazionale for £1.8m in the summer of 2005, a fee his injury record has subsequently justified, the former Dutch international has made little impression on Merseyside other than to receive a red card at Anfield, be rushed to hospital after having a drink spiked and have his Porsche and a pet called Mac dog-napped during a raid on his home.
Of such hardships are terrace favourites born, although it was an asset that has recently tested the Everton crowd who was instrumental in the breakthrough six minutes after the restart, James Beattie chasing a lost cause and producing an excellent cross that Jonathan Spector headed out into the path of Leon Osman. Taking the ball on his chest the midfielder, playing in the centre in the absence of Arteta, lifted an outstanding left-footed volley over Robert Green and into the top corner of the West Ham goal. The visitors' response was negligible.
In stoppage time, and after combining well with Johnson during his 20 minutes on the pitch, James Vaughan reminded all of his potential when he latched on to a pass from Lee Carsley and drove a fine finish under Green. Since he replaced Wayne Rooney as Everton's youngest goalscorer in April 2005, and becoming the League's youngest with the same strike against Crystal Palace, the 18-year-old's career has been on hold - and jeopardised - by a serious knee injury. Last night, the pain belonged entirely to West Ham.
Goals: Osman (51) 1-0; Vaughan (90) 2-0.
Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott, Valente; Van der Meyde (Vaughan, 72), Osman (Weir, 83), Carsley, McFadden; Johnson, Beattie (Hughes, 90). Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Vidarsson.
West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; Spector (Mascherano, 84), Collins, Ferdinand, Konchesky; Bowyer (Sheringham, 69), Reo-Coker, Mullins, Etherington; Zamora (Harewood, 69), Tevez. Substitutes not used: McCartney, Kiraly (gk).
Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).
Booked: Everton Osman, McFadden; West Ham Bowyer, Collins.
Man of the match: Howard
Attendance: 32,968Reuse content