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ANDREW VORCE - Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Jonathan Spector's first two goals for West Ham United came in dramatic fashion on Tuesday as he helped eliminate Manchester United from the League Cup in a rout to give West Ham a place in the semifinals.

The opening 10 minutes suggested that United were on course to another win, with the two time cup holders gunning from the start. United sit in first in the Premier League, while Spector's West Ham sit in dead last.

Tal Ben-Haim offered little resistance to Bebe's trickery on the right flank, and his ball in ended at the feet of Gabriel Obertan. After beating the back line, his shot was saved by Robert Green who pushed it wide to the far post. Javier Hernandez was streaking in, but James Tomkins was on hand to clear it to safety before it was too late.

West Ham thought they had the opening goal in the 15th minute after a streaking run from Spector. Having been moved to central midfielder by head coach Avram Grant a month ago in training, the American was forced to learn the new role by watching teammate Scott Parker.

In a signature Parker run, Spector galloped the length of the field before dishing his pass to Victor Obinna around the edge of the 18. Under little pressure from the United back four, Obinna lashed a shot that deflected off of Spector and into the back of the net. After a check with his linesman, the center referee disallowed the goal as Spector was in an offsides position.

The goal did come for West Ham in the 22nd minute, as the same two players linked up. United failed to win the ball off of West Ham as it was pushed to the edge of the area for the awaiting Obinna.

Spotting Spector around the penalty area carelessly marked by Darren Fletcher, the on loan Inter Milan man chipped up a ball into his teammate. With little power on the cross, Spector did well to position his body across Fletcher, generating all of the power himself with a full snapping header that left Tomasz Kuszczack helpless.

Spector's night would have been complete after that, but he got his second goal in the 37th minute by doing all the work himself. Picking up possession in the center of midfield, Spector skipped past Bebe with ease before making a surging run into the area.

The American tried to pick out Obinna, but he was only able to get a touch on it to stop the ball. Fabio da Silva should have dealt with the ball, but he slipped on the cold surface, which proved to be the fatal error. Spector never stopped his run, picking up the loose ball and slotting past Kuszczack.

In the second half, West Ham would continue their surprising rout of the Premier League giants as things would go from bad to worse for the holders.

In the 56th minute, Carlton Cole put West Ham up 3-0 when he would beat United's defender Johnny Evans to a cross from the right side and head it into the lower left corner of the net.

Ten minutes later in the 66th minute West Ham blew the game wide open when Cole would grab his second of the game.

On the play West Ham's Nigerian midfielder Victor Obinna took the ball down the right side and stopped as he was even with the side of the box. After a few maneuvers he found an open passing lane and connected with Cole who took the ball with his back to the goal.

He quickly turned past Evans again and fired a low shot into the net giving West Ham a four goal lead.

The win now places the relegation battling West Ham United into the semifinals of the League Cup where they will join Arsenal and the winner of Ipswich-West Bromwich and Birmingham City.

Birmingham City 2 - 1 Aston Villa

Brad Friedel was beaten either side of half time as Birmingham pushed past their local rivals.

Richard Dunne was at fault for the first goal as his aimless back header put his defense under unnecessary pressure. The defender tried to track back to make up for his mistake, but ended up bundling over Lee Bowyer in the box. Sebastian Larsson stepped up to convert his 12th minute penalty almost straight down the middle.

Friedel clawed the ball off of the line minutes later, after the entire ball had appeared to go over the line. The linesman ruled that the ball had never fully crossed the line, and so the goal was never allowed, causing an uproar from the home faithful.

The controversy continued to mount as Aston Villa went on to tie the game in the the 30th minute. Jonathan Hogg's was dispossessed, but the ball fell straight to Gabriel Agbonlahor on the edge of the area. Without a prior chance in the match, Agbonlahor made it count after slotting past Ben Foster for the equalizer.

The game was eventually won by Nikola Zigic in the 84th. His strike partner played a delightful ball back into the area after a dangerous run. Zigic's shot deflected after the sliding challenge from Luke Young. Friedel with was already mid-dive when the shot chipped up and over the American keeper, bouncing into the back of his net.

Stephen Carr and Scott Dann were both booked for Birmingham, while James Collins, Hogg, and Ashley Young were booked for Villa. Eric Lichaj and Brad Guzan were both on the bench for Villa who next face Liverpool away from home.

Carlisle United 3-1 Sheffield Wednesday

Frank Simek and Carlisle United convincingly beat Sheffield Wednesday to advance in Johnstone's Paint Trophy play.

Simek started and went the full ninety for the Cumbrians. Mike Grella did not make the game day roster.

Bernard Zoko opened the scoring for Carlisle United in the 30th minute when he clinically finished a header after a cross supplied by Gary Madine.

The Cumbrians doubled their lead in the 61st minute when Lubo Michalik volleyed home a shot after the Owls could not clear a James Berrett corner.

The 69th minute saw Carlisle United go up by a third goal when Ben Marshall received a cross from Madine and flicked the ball over Owl's goalie Nicky Weaver.

Darren Purse was able to pull one back for Wednesday with a near post header in the 85th minute.

Zoko received the only yellow card of the game for the Cumbrians.

Carlisle take on Leyton Orient in League One play this weekend while Sheffield Wednesday will play Swindon.
Ben
Thursday December 2, 2010 12:17 pm
I agree @Bob K.... great news for Spector but it just means we have less depth at D.

I will disagree about Spector needing a new team next year unless he continues to show major improvements to his game. Unfortunately it appears both Spector and the Hammers belong in the Champions league. :(
ICEMANofALFRED
Thursday December 2, 2010 1:03 am
Well this is certainly nice for Spector and the Hammers, but let's get real here... his game at fullback has been slipping for well over a year now and it's THAT position that the US is rather thin at... so now we may have yet another central midfielder, great that makes what...ten? So sure this is great for Jonathan and who knows, it might even lead to their being able to make up enough ground to claw their way back away from relegation ... but this is only one match and should be seen in that light.
For the record, ever since my early days as a Bobby Moore fan, I've been a Hammers fan and this does feel good... but unless they win a few LEAGUE matches pretty soon... they are looking at a future not in the EPL but in the championship, and that means little money and very likely seeing Spector looking for a new team...so that is what I take from this.
Brian
Wednesday December 1, 2010 3:12 pm
Could it be that we've found Donovan's successor? Great plays by Spector. What made this even more satisfying was that chicharita was nothing more than a SPECTator to SPECTOR's performance.
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