Obinna the Hammers’ saviour as Forest push West Ham close

Hammers to host Burnley after Forest win

A VICTOR OBINNA hat trick including a goal of the season contender saved West Ham’s blushes as they edged past Nottingham Forest 3-2 and into round five at Upton Park on Sunday.

Boss Avram Grant made nine changes to the side which were beaten by Birmingham in the Carling Cup semi-final last Wednesday and were it not for Obinna’s treble, the Hammers would have suffered the same fate.

Outplayed for the majority of the game by their Championship opponents, the Hammers have Obinna, and in particular his second goal to thank for their progress.

The Nigerian striker’s early opener was cancelled out by goals from Dele Adebola after 18 minutes and David McGoldrick six minutes before the interval.

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There were just four minutes before the half time whistle and the Upton Park faithful were about to let the team know exactly what they thought of their lacklustre first half display.

Receiving the ball just outside the area and close to the touchline, there seemed little on and in typical Obinna style he let fly.

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The ball dipped and whistled into the net, giving Forest stopper Lee Camp no chance. Many felt it was a cross, but with Obinna keen to shoot from most areas on the pitch, it’s likely his effort was intentional.

It was the ideal tonic for a desperately disappointing first half which the visitors dominated.

Contrary to what was to follow, West Ham started brightly and after four minutes a Pablo Barrera cross was cushioned down well by Piquionne to Sears, whose deflected shot found the net.

From the resulting corner the Hammers took the lead when Noble’s misdirected effort was turned home by Obinna from six yards out.

Despite the early setback it was clear Forest came to Upton Park determined to attack. Pushing midfielders forward at every opportunity, Hammers struggled to contain, as the midfield were dominated and the defence backed off.

Majewski was Forest’s biggest weapon early on, his ability to beat players on a bumpy surface was a real asset, earning his side numerous free kicks in decent positions, all of which were wasted.

The visitors kept pressurising and scored a deserved equalised after 18 minutes. David McGoldrick broke on the left and played a neat ball inside to Adebola, whose effort crept past Robert Green and into the corner.

The visitors continued to press and almost took the lead when after 22 minutes as an in-swinging free kick from Chris Cohen looped just past Green’s far post.

West Ham were poor in possession and their half was epitomised when 10 minutes before the break, Radoslav Kovac attempted to play in Barrera but over hit his pass by 30 yards and fell over in the process.

It prompted a ‘That’s why your going down’ by the vocal Forest fans who were clearly revelling in the opposition’s inadequacies.

Forest took a well deserved lead six minutes before the break when Cohen’s whipped cross from the left was flicked on by Piquionne and with Green only able to parry McGoldrick headed home from a yard out.

It didn’t take West Ham long to get level as Obinna scored with his scintillating strike just a minute later.

The second half began in the best possible way for West Ham as Winston Reid was unnecessarily hauled down in the area by Joel Lynch after Sears helped the ball back into the area.

Lynch was booked for his troubles and Obinna secured his hat trick, sending Camp the wrong way, placing the ball to the stoppers right.

West Ham almost extended their lead after 55 minutes but Reid could not quite get on the end of a Noble free kick after evading his marker.

The Hammers were finally flowing and their lead should have been extended further five minutes later, but Camp denied Piquionne, whose stinging shot was palmed away by the Forest stopper.

It was Camp who again denied the hosts as he tipped Barrera curling effort round the post.

Forest tried to rally but found chances difficult to come by and in truth West Ham should have won by a wider margin.

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