Full-time - 90'
2 - 1
Capital One Cup
19:45 +00:00, January 11, 2011
Upton Park, England
Referee: P Dowd
FT So the Hammers take a 2-1 lead to St Andrews for the second-leg of the semi-final on January 26. The tie is finely poised and you can follow it here on ESPNsoccernet.
FT But the Hammers defence held firm and a bit of luck gave them the winner.
FT West Ham dominated in the first half but when Blues equalised and then Obinna was sent off in the second-half it looked like it was all going to go wrong.
FT Well Avram Grant's amazing run in cup competitions continues... with a helping hand from Ben Foster.
Green kicks it down the pitch and the ref blows for full-time.
Carr lumps one last effort into the box. Jerome turns in the box and Green grasps his shot at the near post.
It's all got a bit scrappy, which will suit the Hammers as time ticks away.
Fahey takes a freekick on the right of the box, but he hits the first man, Cole.
West Ham make their final change. Off goes Noble and on comes Kovac.
Fahey whips in a cross for Zigic. The big striker wins the header but his effort whistles inches wide of the post.
Stat: Ridgewell's goal puts him on four this season in all competitions, one less than Birmingham's top scorer Gardner.
Beausejour takes on Faubert. Or at least he tries to and fails. Faubert has had a good game.
Larsson goes off for Blues and on comes 6'8" striker Zigic.
Carr plays a one-two down the flank. Green palms away the defender's cross-shot at the near post.
When Larsson's freekick eventually comes it sails over everybody. It wasn't worth the wait.
Before the freekick Blues make a change. Beausejour comes on and Hleb, rather surprisingly, goes off.
Upson chops down Carr and Birmingham get a freekick and a chance to work a set piece...
Ferguson overcooks it on the edge of the box and West Ham can get the ball away.
Blues camp out in West Ham's half again. But Fahey and then Hleb can find no way through.
Foster kept Blues in the match in the first half and now he may have cost his side the game.
GOAL Cole scuffs his shot but it trickles through the legs of Foster. What a mistake by the keeper.
Parker with a great pass sets up an attack. Spector cuts it back for Cole...
Hines uses his pace to get to the byline and wins a corner for West Ham. Parker's corner is as bad as Reid's eventual shot.
Larsson crosses from the right. Murphy gets in front of his marker but his glanced header goes just wide.
Murphy whips in a cross and Tomkins heads over his own bar under pressure from Jerome.
Sears' night is over too. He is replaced by Hines.
Piquionne goes off and is replaced by Carlton Cole, a big target man.
Ferguson drives forward, plays a one-two and then takes a tumble in the box. No penalty says the ref.
Blues are camped on the edge of the West Ham box. It's only a matter of time before they score if it goes on like this.
Faubert shoves Murphy in the back and Birmingham have a freekick on the left of the box. Green collects for West Ham.
Stat: Victor Obinna's red card is West Ham's first dismissal of the season. What a time to do it.
You can sense the tension in the Upton Park crowd.
Faubert takes the fight to Blues. Twice he races down the flank. his cross is inches away from finding Piquionne's head.
Blues have so much time in midfield now.
Blues freekick. Ferguson chips it into the box for Ridgwell to head. Green makes a point-blank save but the flag was up for offside anyway.
West Ham take it quickly. Parker drives into the box but can't get the ball under control.
Piquionne works hard to keep possession for West Ham and does well to win a freekick.
Gardner thinks he has space for a shot but he is closed down as he pulls the trigger.
It's all starting to go wrong for West Ham... how they must rue not getting more goals when they dominated the first-half.
The TV replay shows that it was Obinna who back-heeled Larsson in the nuts. A definite red card.
Obinna has been sent off for something.
Larsson is down injured and the ref brings the game to a stop. He is clutching his family jewels.
It is about time Birmingham did something with a corner. Game on now.
GOAL It doesn't matter because Ridgewell heads in from the corner.
Jerome heads at goal from a corner. Sears clears off the line but Blues claim handball. It wasn't.
Faubert's cross is partially blocked but makes it through to Sears, who struggles to control the spinning ball and is smothered by defenders.
...Too close to Green.
Piquionne gives away a freekick. Larsson will whip it into the box...
Hleb is in the game much more. He is pulling the strings in midfield.
Blues seem to be going for it much more so far in this second-half.
Centre-back Roger Johnson shows some tricks in the West Ham box and wins a corner. Unfortunately it comes to nothing.
...Gardner takes it himself. He shoots low, hard, and more importantly wide.
Gardner runs into Reid but Blues get a freekick right on the edge of the box...
Nice turn from Gardner, who then crosses. It is too close to Green, who claims the ball.
Parker is caught in possession by Hleb, who then stumbles over the ball and tackles himself.
West Ham get the second-half underway and they will be hoping for more of the same.
Dann has been ruled out with a hamstring injury so David Murphy will start the second-half in his place.
HT Stat: Birmingham City managed just one shot on target in the first half.
HT Injured Blues defender Dann continued to get treatment on the pitch as everybody else headed to the dressingroom so he must be a doubt for the second-half.
West Ham celebrate Mark Noble's strike
HT West Ham are running the midfield and McLeish will have some reorganising to do.
HT Well Birmingham will be happy it is only 1-0 at the break. They have been dominated.
...It is a poor delivery and West Ham see off the danger. Dann is down injured on the pitch as the half-time whistle blows.
Birmingham have a corner, which Larsson will take...
Birmingham have found a bit of impetus with half-time looming.
...the Blues winger picks out Johnson, who can only head high over the bar.
Larsson has another chance to deliver a freekick into the box...
Jerome chases down another lost cause for Blues and is unlucky not to win a corner.
Larsson delivers the freekick. It's flicked on but there is nobody at the back post to finish off the move.
Hleb holds the ball up for Blues and brings Carr into the attack. The defender wins a freekick.
I take back what I said about Obinna before. He has turned into Mr Greedy. He has just taken on a ridiculous shot.
Plenty of pointing going from Blues boss McLeish on the touchline.
Obinna spots a run from Sears and set him up for a long-range strike. The youngster's culred shot is well wide.
Jerome takes on Reid down the left flank but the defender wins the battle.
Only one team in this at the moment.
Stat: Birmingham haven't kept a clean sheet in a League Cup away game against a team from the same division since August 1991.
Faubert chips the ball into the box. Sears takes it down on his chest and then pokes a shot wide. Good effort though.
Obinna is determined to get a strike on goal, even though his way is blocked, and his effort hits the first defender.
Tomkins wins another header from the corenr but this time his effort gently loops into the hands Foster.
Obinna sells a dummy to Ridgwell and then fires off a shot that Foster palms past the post. Corner.
Hleb twists and turns for Blues trying to spark an attack. Larsson takes possession and then loses it as Hleb throws his hands in the air in frustration.
Now it's McLeish's turn to stalk the touchline looking agitated. His Blues are being outplayed.
Sears chips a lovely pass into the path of Piquionne but the striker takes a heavy touch and the chance goes begging.
Ridgewell chips a cross into the West Ham box for lone-striker Jerome, but Green races off his line to grab the ball.
Blues are happy to keep possession for a bit. Gardner eventually plays it forward and nearly picks out Jerome.
An offside against Noble will give Birmigham some respite.
Birmingham can't get out of their own half.
Tomkins meets the corner and his header forces Foster to make another good save.
spector shoots from about 30-yards out but Foster makes the save. It's a corner to West Ham.
Some good football from West Ham who are clearly on top now.
Obinna makes some space and passes to Upson, who crosses to the far post. Faubert arrives late but can't get his header on target.
Carr whips in a cross for Blues and Green rushes off his line to claim the ball.
West Ham';s attack breaks down but Parker chases down Larsson and makes a good tackle.
Parker seems intent on running into blind alleys at the moment. He passes back to the goalkeeper once again.
Avram Grant is stalking the touchline breathing heavily. There is a lot riding on this for the West Ham manager.
West Ham have just about edged proceedings so far and probably deserved that goal.
Noble started the move with a great run and after his cross eventually came back to him the midfielder smashed the ball into the back of the net from a very tight angle.
GOAL Noble scores after a goal-mouth scramble.
Stat: West Ham's last appearance in a League Cup semi-final saw them lose the 1st leg 6-0 (at Oldham).
Parker attempts to chip a pass over the back four for Sears to chase, but he gets it wrong. It's all West Ham now.
Ridgewell hassles Sears on the left flank and wins a throw for Birmingham.
Obinna had a great game against Man United in the last round and he looks up for it again tonight.
Upson crosses to the near post. Obinna twists his body to get something on the ball but he can't direct it at goal.
Parker plays the ball back to his keeper. West Ham build an attack.
Foster punches the corner clear, but only as far as Sears, who volleys it straight back but wide of the post.
Faubert crosses to the back post put it is a poor delivery. Obina wins a corner for the Hammers.
Jerome offside as Birmingham make the early running.
Jerome chases a lost cause and makes something of it. Gardner whips in a cross but there is no Blues' player in the box.
Plenty of long-ball stuff in the early moments. Heading practice for the defenders.
Birmingham get the game underway, kicking from left to right, wearing all blue.
The teams are on the pitch and we are only moments away from kick off.
West Ham boss Avram Grant needs a good result here to make sure he is still in a job tomorrow morning.
Stat: Birmingham have lost their last three League Cup semi-final first leg games.
West Ham team: Green, Faubert, Reid, Tomkins, Upson, Sears, Parker, Noble, Obinna, Spector, Piquionne
There is no Carlton Cole for West Ham but Jonathan Spector will slot into the midfield role that saw him score twice against Man Utd in the previous round.
Birmingham team: Foster, Carr, Dann, Johnson, Ridgewell, Larsson, Ferguson, Gardner, Fahey, Hleb, Jerome
The big team news for Birmingham is that Hleb gets a rare start and may point to a more attacking approach from Blues.
Join us at 19.45 for live coverage of the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final.
Luis Boa Morte
West Ham United