Tuesday 20 February 2018

Doyle delivers hammer-blow

West Ham 1 Wolves 3

Jason Burt

KEVIN DOYLE crowned another fine display with a tremendous goal to set up a thumping win that catapults Wolves seven points clear of the relegation zone.

It was the end of an era at the Boleyn Ground, the dying days, surely, of Gianfranco Zola's tenure as manager of West Ham.

They may well stay up this season, by default perhaps, with the three sides below them appearing incapable of hauling themselves free, but it will feel hollow. This wasn't just a defeat, it was a humiliation, a ragged capitulation.

Frustrated home fans sang bitterly of players not fit to wear the shirt, of a manager being sacked in the morning. But it may not come to that. Zola is a man who will have felt crushed by last night's events and he may well walk.

In the wreckage around West Ham it shouldn't be forgotten that Wolves played with a hunger, a desire, a will and skill that hollered of a team that is desperate to stay in this division.

Doyle was the wrecking ball, occupying the West Ham defence, spreading uncertainty by his tireless presence, perpetual motion, deceptive pace.

Little wonder, then, that it was the Wexford man who put the visitors ahead on 28 minutes -- thanks to a horrendous error by James Tomkins. As the Wolves striker chased a long ball forward, Tomkins hurried his back-pass, mis-hitting it disastrously and Doyle was able to run onto the ball before calmly shooting across Robert Green and into the net.

West Ham were being run ragged as Wolves zipped the passes across the turf and the visitors scored again on 58 minutes.

Again it owed much to their determination, with David Jones reacting quickly to hold off Matthew Upson and slice the West Ham defence with a low pass to Ronald Zubar. Sprinting clear on the right he struck a shot, deflected, across Green who was beaten by the power.

West Ham collapsed. A long ball from George Elokobi, taken by Jones and, once more, the midfielder bysected the defenders with Matt Jarvis running on to beat Green again.

Cue an exodus of home support.

Zola threw on his final substitute, Guillermo Franco and in injury-time he fired Valon Behrami's pass into the net. It was no consolation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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