Wednesday, January 12, 2011
A pair of assists from Jonathan Spector keyed a West Ham victory over Birmingham in the first leg of their Carling Cup semifinal on Tuesday night at Upton Park.

Spector started in the Hammers' midfield for head coach Avram Grant and went the full 90 minutes.

Carlton Cole bagged the winner for the East Londoners who were a man down for the final 30 minutes of the match.

Mark Noble opened the scoring for the Hammers in the 13th minute when Spector volleyed a cross from the left side that Noble was able to turn on and volley in from the slimmest of angles.

Following the halftime break, Birmingham pressed hard for the equalizer and got it in the 56th when Liam Ridgwell smacked in a header off a corner kick.

It was just minutes after Ridgewell's goal that West Ham's Victor Obinna was sent off for a foolish kick on Birmingham's Sebastian Larsson.

However the hosts would dig their heels in and fend off any further Birmingham challenges the rest of the way.

Their hard work was rewarded just 12 minutes from time when Cole took in Spector's cross and slotted in a shot from 15 yards out for the decisive score.

The two teams will meet in the return leg on January 26th in Birmingham.

Spector and West Ham return to English Premier League action on Saturday when they face Arsenal.