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Carlton Cole (pictured) scored a late winner to give ten-man West Ham United a 2-1 first leg win over Birmingham City at the Boleyn Ground in the Carling Cup semi-finals. Mark Noble got the opener for the Hammers but a Liam Ridgewell header leveled the score just ahead of the hour mark. West Ham were down to ten men when Victor Obinna was sent off for a dangerous lunge at Sebastian Larsson. The return leg is still to be played at St. Andrew’s but surely the result today helps keep Avram Grant on the touchline. The possibility of a trophy, even in a season where the Hammers are dead last and facing relegation, could buoy the London side.

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