Cole’s goals for West Ham help banish bad Burnley memories
FA Cup Fifth Round
West Ham 5
(Hitzlsperger 23, Cole 48 & 50, Reid 59, Sears 90)
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THERE was a plenty to smile about for Carlton Cole tonight. All the talk will be of Thomas Hitzlsperger’s wonderful debut goal, but this win and his brace will be even sweeter for Cole.
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In November 2009 the former Chelsea striker was in the form of his life had scored six goals in 12 games and was a fixture in the England squad.
That all changed when he suffered a horrible knee in the 5-3 Premier League win over Burnley, which kept him out of the side for two months.
His form has failed to hit the heights of before his injury and there will be none with a wider smile than Cole tonight.
On paper it was a comfortable win, but Hitzlsperger’s 23rd minute opener was a good fillip for a poor first half from West Ham who created no other chances in an opening 45 minutes bossed by their Lancastrian counterparts.
The second was a different story and two goal Coles within five minutes of the re-start killed Burnley’s resolve.
The Clarets created the first opportunity after 14 minutes when Jay Rodriguez seemed to push Winston Reid inside the area before attempting to lob Robert Green who tipped the effort over the bar.
A minute later Burnley came even closer to taking the lead when the impressive Ross Wallace cut inside and when West Ham backed off, he hit a powerful shot which was well saved by Green, who immediately sprung to his feet to deny Rodriguez’s diving header.
After conceding two goals last week at West Brom, you would think the Hammers would have learnt from their errors? Seemingly not.
Burnley built on their momentum and hurried and hassled their opponents forcing them into errors, while their own ball retention was a level above the Hammers.
The Clarets took advantage of West Ham’s narrow formation, using their wingers effectively and when their full backs broke forward, the likes of Demba Ba were never going to track back and help the often exposed Wayne Bridge.
Lone striker Rodriguez was rarely isolated with Chris Eagles regularly supporting movement causing confusing amongst the Hammers, while Jack Cork was often the source of Burnley attacks.
Hitzlsperger’s wonderful strike shocked the Clarets. The pressing eased and Hammers enjoyed a greater spell of possession, but still struggled to get men in the opposition box and fashion chances.
Burnley’s daze was lifted when Eagles tested Green with a powerful low drive and although they continued to impress when on the ball failed to create any further chances in the first period.
West Ham had the perfect start to the second half. Just three minutes in, Eagles gave the ball cheaply away to Noble who played a brilliant ball to Cole.
The striker beat the offside, then produced a horrible heavy touch, fell over, handled the ball, but still beat goalkeeper Lee Grant, who seemed to be waiting for the linesman’s flag. Cole was lucky and he’ll squirm when he sees the replays on television.
There was nothing fortunate about his goal a minute later when again Noble played an exquisite ball through, Cole again beat the offside trap, but this time took one touch before curling a delicious effort into the top corner.
All Burnley’s good work in the first half was undone by terrible marking and attempting to play offside against quicker opponents.
The game was over and the Hammers went four ahead after 59 minutes when a Bridge corner was headed home from Reid, who scored unchallenged at the near post.
Demba Ba almost made it five after being played in by Sears, but Grant turned his effort behind.
Jay Rodriguez missed a golden chance to reduce the arrears after 70 minutes but when through on goal blazed over from the edge of the area.
He didn’t have to wait long to make amends when a minute later Green nonchalantly cleared the ball into Tyrone Mears, with the ball deflecting into the path of the striker who finished into an empty net.
Hitzlsperger was replaced by Pablo Barrera after 67 minutes, content with his debut, while Cole and Ba were replaced by Spector and Piquionne respectively.
There was still time for Freddie Sears to score his second goal of the season in injury time as the Hammers secured their place in the Quarter-Finals where they will face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
West Ham: Green, Jacobsen, Bridge, Reid, Tomkins, Noble, Parker, Hitzlsperger (Barrera 67), Cole (Spector 71), Ba (Piquionne 82), Sears.