Grant blasts referee after Hammers blow their lead

Birmingham City 2 West Ham United 2: Israeli staggered by the 'farcical' decision to deny West Ham a late penalty

David Gold must have been tempted to stay away more often when West Ham plumped up a two-goal cushion with only a third of the game remaining. Banned by Birmingham after allegedly hostile comments about his former club's chairman, Peter Pannu, the Hammers' joint chairman would have deemed it a price worth paying to savour their first away win in 24 attempts.

But where the Premier League's bottom team are concerned, misfortune's always hiding around the corner. In the space of nine minutes, Birmingham's Cameron Jerome and Liam Ridgewell struck to negate the advantage Frédéric Piquionne and Valon Behrami had given West Ham in a 10-minute burst after half-time, and only the woodwork spared West Ham from defeat.

Avram Grant, however, was less angry about the points that got away than with referee Michael Oliver. The 25-year-old official ignored appeals for an 88th-minute penalty after Jean Beausejour tugged the marauding Lars Jacobsen's shirt. "Farce," complained the West Ham manager, who used the word another four times. "What we saw from 50 metres, he could see from five."

Alex McLeish, whose team have won only three of their last 20 League fixtures, admitted Birmingham played "badly" until they adopted a blood-and-thunder style after going 2-0 down.

The sideshow of Birmingham's ex-owners had threatened to overshadow the main attraction. However, with Gold absent after being told he would not be allowed into the boardroom or directors' box, and Karren Brady also missing, David Sullivan was alone in braving what proved to be the mild-mannered flak from the St Andrew's faithful.

Sullivan was pictured on the in-house TV system smiling broadly as kick-off approached. Perhaps he had advance notice of the bizarre events of the third minute. With West Ham on the attack, four water sprinklers burst into activity in the Birmingham half. Two stopped swiftly but the others showered the players for a minute, prompting Mr Oliver to call a halt while the groundstaff rushed to find the off-switch.

The game featured two of the candidates to play in goal for England against France later this month. At first, Birmingham's Ben Foster was far busier than Robert Green, making an outstanding save to deny Carlton Cole after 18 minutes. From a right-wing cross by Victor Obinna, Cole sidefooted goalwards from six yards. Foster, swooping to his right, tipped the ball on to the post and watched it pass almost along his goalline before it was cleared for a corner. Green, by contrast, was relatively untroubled by a Birmingham side bereft of energy and ideas.

That would change dramatically, though not until West Ham had built a handsome lead. Luis Boa Morte set up the first for Piquionne, galloping between the centre-backs, to angle a crisp shot past Foster.

Another incisive passing move, which began after a loose pass by Scott Dann and involved Boa Morte and Cole, led to Behrami arriving to drive the ball home. West Ham's joy was unconfined, but McLeish instantly made changes, introducing Beausejour and Craig Gardner, and Birmingham were a team transformed.

Both their goals stemmed from free-kicks by Sebastian Larsson, the first being steered in by Jerome after the towering Nikola Zigic headed the set-piece into his path. Delivering the ball from a more central position, the Swede tested Green with a shot that the keeper could only parry to the unmarked Ridgewell, who gleefully despatched the loose ball. With West Ham reduced to hanging on grimly, Jerome poked the ball past the onrushing Green in the 78th minute only for Daniel Gabbidon to knee the ball to safety via a post.

Attendance: 26,474

Referee: Michael Oliver

Man of the match: Foster

Match rating: 6/10

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam