FULL TIME: Ashton strike earns Hammers final-day point against Villa
4:54pm Sunday 11th May 2008 in West Ham - Match Reports
West Ham 2
Aston Villa 2
(Barclays Premier League)
DEAN Ashton's excellent strike two minutes from time ensured West Ham went out with a bang on the final day of the Premier League season.
The striker unleashed a first-time curling shot into the top corner.
The goal ended any hopes Aston Villa had of climbing upto fifth in the table.
More importantly - with Spurs losing to Liverpool - the Hammers retained the tenth spot they've held into since November 25.
Hammers took the lead after seven minutes when Villa keeper Scott Carson could only push Nobby Solano's curling free kick into his net.
The visitors were back in it on 13 minutes, Ashley Young - who struck a post in the opening minuets - guiding Nigel Reo-Coker's well-placed pass into the far corner.
Bobby Zamora flashed a fierce shot just wide with the best of the other chances in the opening period.
Villa came out fired up in the second half as they desperately sought the victory.
Hammers keeper Robert Green first did brilliantly to block John Carew's shot on 47 minutes, and Mark Noble then cleared Carew's header off the goal line moments later.
It was no surprise when Gareth Barry put Villa in front just before the hour mark.
The midfielder started the move, driving forward and playing in Reo-Coker.
The ex-Hammer saw his shot was well saved by Green, but only into the path of Barry, who made no mistake with the open goal.
The goal seemed to spark Hammers back into life. Dean Ashton had a header cleared off the goal line by Olof Mellberg, and Zamora rattled the crossbar just a minute later with another header.
Both sides continued to push for the win, Mellberg hitting the side netting for the visitors and Ashton doing the same at the other end.
But, with the game ebbing away from the hosts, Ashton fired home to the delight of the Upton Park crowd.
There was still time for Irons forward Carlton Cole to clear a scrambled, last gasp Villa effort off the goal line.
West Ham: Green, Neill, McCartney (Pantsil 45), Ferdinand, Tomkins, Solano, Boa Morte, Noble (Sears 80), Parker, Zamora (Cole 73), Ashton. Unused subs: Wright, Mullins.