West Ham United hammered by Sydney FC
HAMISH BIDWELL AT WESTPAC STADIUM
West Ham United head back to England winless, after being soundly beaten by Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium this afternoon.
Defeated 2-1 by the Wellington Phoenix already this week, West Ham went down 3-1 today, with barely a whimper. It was a poor performance from one of the Football United Tour's marquee sides and they should know that.
Newcastle United and West Ham say they've been made to feel extremely welcome on their trip to New Zealand and the Hammers clearly felt so at home in Wellington that they opted to play like some of the Phoenix teams of old. With similar results.
They sat back, knocked the ball about in their own half, then ran out of ideas and pumped it long. It was utterly uninspiring stuff and meant they never stood a chance of beating Sydney. Not to mention odd, given they were chasing the game from such an early stage.
Corey Gameiro and Alex Brosque had Sydney 2-0 inside 26 minutes, each scoring what you'd have to call soft goals, against defenders of Premier League standard. West Ham start their next campaign in three weeks, while the A-League doesn't kick off till October.
But if you had to guess which of these two teams was further along in their preparation, it wouldn't be the Hammers.
They looked sluggish and short on imagination or creativity, aside from the few times Stewart Downing got himself on the ball.
Sydney were lively - Gameiro especially - and he might've scored an absolute hatful of goals on another day.
Having taken a 2-0 lead into halftime, Sydney soon saw that advantage halved, when a Matt Jarvis cross took a wicked deflection off Nikola Petkovic and settled in the back of the net.
To Sydney's credit they weren't rocked at all and soon took charge of the match again. Gameiro ought to have made it 3-1 on 60 minutes, but took too many touches inside the West Ham box and eventually found himself closed down.
He did better four minutes later, after being played through by Terry Antonis. It was the moment of the match, in many respects, and plenty of the participants will have their own point of view about what occurred.
In summary, Antonis appeared to play the ball with his right arm, as he looked to control it around the halfway line. Some of the West Ham players stopped, thinking it was an obvious hand ball, but Antonis played on, sending a delightful lob Gameiro's way.
Again, the former Wellington Phoenix player nearly blew the opportunity for want of a touch too many, before eventually tucking the ball away to make it 3-1. Hammers skipper Winston Reid went bananas and things briefly got a bit ugly.
Referee Nick Waldron didn't seem sure what he was doing, as the replay screen began to shame him. There was a chat with fourth official John Rowbury and the two-bobs' worth of Sydney coach Graham Arnold, for what they were worth, and it appeared Waldron might finally disallow the goal.
He didn't, despite the evidence, which prompted West Ham manager Sam Allardyce to station himself on the touchline for a time. Allardyce was miles beyond the technical area, but it didn't look like anyone was game to tell him to get back where he belonged.
He's off home now.
How well will the Phoenix do in this year's A-League?