'Long may it continue' says Grant after Keane goal lifts Hammers
Blackpool 1 West Ham United 3
Thursday 03 February 2011
West Ham are on the up. How else do you explain the usually dour Avram Grant, who is no Ian Holloway in the effervescence stakes, resembling a giddy teenager in the aftermath of a victory that suggests it's somewhat premature to discuss West Ham's Premier League demise?
Just about the only thing that did not go quite to plan for the Upton Park manager was the now traditional tossing of his "lucky" scarf into the Hammers faithful, the gale whipping around Bloomfield Road sending the garment back into his face before reaching its intended target. It still did not prevent him exiting the pitch with something of a spring in his step.
A vital away win left the Israeli with plenty of reasons to be cheerful, his side dragging Blackpool into relegation trouble with a sixth defeat in seven games to leave them just four points better off than their opponents, who climbed off the bottom and remain in the relegation zone only on goal difference.
Robbie Keane inevitably took the limelight with a debut strike, but it was the contribution of Victor Obinna, with two goals to take his tally to five in the last two games, which proved pivotal. "He's among the goals and that's why he's here with us," Grant said. "Long may it continue."
All the goals were scored in an end-to-end opening period. Obinna saved the best for last, restoring the visitors' two-goal lead with a memorable 25-yard effort to round off a swift counter-attack launched by the impressive Scott Parker two minutes before the interval.
It proved to be a hammer blow for Blackpool less than 60 seconds after they had unexpectedly been handed a way back into the game as Frédéric Piquionne's near-post miskick in attempting to clear Charlie Adam's corner allowed the ball to find the net. It was embarrassing for Piquionne and goalkeeper Robert Green, who had earlier excelled in tipping over a curling 25-yard effort from Andy Reid, the Blackpool debutant.
West Ham took command with Keane's debut goal doubling their advantage eight minutes before the interval. Richard Kingson produced a fine double save to deny Obinna as Blackpool failed to deal with Mark Noble's free-kick launched into the box, only for the loose ball to drop to Keane to claim his first Premier League goal for 15 months from close range.
Kingson's efforts were o't quite as impressive as the visitors took a deserved lead midway through the first half, as he palmed Obinna's tame shot into the bottom corner after the forward had turned past Craig Cathcart. "That goal really knocked the stuffing out of us," Holloway, the Blackpool manager, admitted.
He added: "What could have gone wrong did go wrong for us. We lacked a little bit of energy and to be honest I can't wait to get away from home because all this bad stuff seems to be happening here. Let's get on the road and see if we can stop the rot."
Grant said: "We've been playing well without winning but this time we took our chances. I suppose throwing my scarf to the fans each time is costing the club some money, but it's a gesture I enjoy making."
Blackpool (4-3-3): Kingson; Eardley, Baptiste, Cathcart (Evatt, 46), Carney; Adam, Vaughan, Reid (Harewood, 60); Taylor-Fletcher, Campbell, Varney (Beattie, 61). Substitutes not used Rachubka, Southern, Grandin, Puncheon.
West Ham United (4-3-3): Green; Jacobsen, Tomkins, Gabbidon (Reid, 33), Bridge; O'Neil, Parker, Noble, Obinna (Boa Morte, 83); Keane (Kovac, 84), Piquionne. Substitutes not used Boffin, Sears, Cole, Ba.
Man of the match Obinna.
Match rating 7/10.
Referee S Attwell (Warwickshire).
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