By Tom Dowsett
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West Ham United remain top of the npower Championship but failed to extend their lead, as they were beaten 5-1 by Ipswich Town at Portman Road on Tuesday night which means that the Tractor Boys are the only team so far to have done the double over the Hammers this season.
Sam Allardyce made three changes to the side that helped the club go top of the table by beating Nottingham Forest ten days earlier, as Matthew Taylor returned from his calf injury in place of Papa Bouba Diop, who was replaced in the last game because of a hamstring complaint. Henri Lansbury came into midfield while Carlton Cole played up front on his own as Sam Baldock dropped to the bench.
The game got underway and West Ham were lucky not to go behind within the first minute as Daryl Murphy was played in behind Julien Faubert and crossed low, only for the danger to be cleared by Winston Reid. Minutes later, the home side did take the lead as Jay Emmanuel Thomas did well to evade two challenges and set up Michael Chopra, who smashed the ball past Robert Green and into the net from close range.
Three minutes after the goal, West Ham could have got back on level terms when Jack Collison found Taylor, who in turn picked out Cole but, although he beat the keeper, the effort cannoned off the post.
Both teams then enjoyed some end to end attacking play but Paul Jewell's side were still carrying the greater threat.
Just before half-time, three goals were scored. Firstly, Ipswich doubled their advantage through Murphy as he won the header from Tommy Smith and flicked the ball into the net. Then the Hammers pulled one back when George McCartney won a freekick; Mark Noble lifted the set piece over for Collison to plant the ball past Aaron Lee Barrett to give the Hammers hope. Then Ipswich were given the chance to go further ahead from the penalty spot after McCartney had fouled Chopra and was booked for his troubles. Lee Martin then confidently stepped up to send Green the wrong way and the advantage was back up to two goals.
At the break with West Ham losing heavily, Big Sam decided to make his first change, replacing Noble with Baldock.
The second half started and, although West Ham were trying to push to get a goal back in the early stages, on 64 minutes Ipswich increased their lead further. A poor pass from the West Ham midfield resulted in Reid heading the ball straight to Luke Hyam who set up Emmanuel Thomas whose shot flew in off the post from 30 yards out.
With the Hammers needing something, Big Sam decided to make a double change, replacing Taylor and Cole with Frank Nouble and Robert Hall.
As the game drew to a close West Ham had a great chance on 74 minutes when Faubert hit Nouble's pass across the box, only for Baldock to hit a shot wide. Then a minute later, skipper Kevin Nolan tried an effort but this was straight at Lee Barrett.
In the final minute of stoppage time, Ipswich put the result beyond doubt when Emmanuel Thomas side footed the ball low past Green and into the net.
Goal number five was the last kick of the game and, thanks to Southhampton only picking up a 1-1 draw at home to Cardiff City, the Hammers stayed exactly where they were before kick-off. However, the fans won't accept as poor a performance in their next game, as it is only at home to Millwall on Saturday!!!
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