Sunday, August 14, 2005


Hammers Do It In Style

West Ham have annouced their intentions on their return to the Premiership with a resounding 3-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers overnight.

Teddy Sheringham, Nigel Reo-Coker and Matty Etherington all got onto the scoresheet as West Ham United romped to a well-deserved win after going a goal behind early in the first half.

The London club started very nervously and could not keep the ball for much of the first half, failing to string even a single pass together, let alone two or more, although Marlon Harewood was guilty of missing a good chance when he pulled his shot wide. West Ham's passing was diabolical and even their first touch looked amateurish. It was during this period that Blackburn scored, when unmarked Andy Todd calmly shot into the net from a corner. Only a pronounced lack of creativity prevented Blackburn from scoring again, but West Ham's stage fright gradually slipped away as the Irons started passing the ball about with more and more confidence as half time beckoned, and both Marlon Harewood and Teddy Sheringham missed good opportunities to score. Robbie Savage's early yellow card helped keep the midfielder relatively subdued as Hayden Mullins and Nigel Reo-Coker dominated the middle of the park.

That confidence turned into some truly sublime movement after the break and suddenly West Ham were in front when Yossi Benayoun's run exposed the Blackburn defence; his final pass came off Andy Todd's boot favourably for Teddy Sheringham. For a striker with his experience the finish was bread-and-butter and the Hammers had drawn level within a minute of the start of the second half.

For the rest of the half West Ham dismantled Blackburn piece by piece as their passing, movement and creativety gave them chance after chance, and Rover's defensive substitution failed to stem the tide. On 62 minutes Matty Etherington's pass found Nigel Reo-Coker, who had quietly moved out of reach of his marker. The diminutive midfielder made a calculated half-turn and released an unstoppable striker's shot into the net to fire the Hammers into the lead.

Blackburn had some periods of possession in this half but West Ham looked far more dangerous, moving the ball about with speed and precision, and defending well when Blackburn had the ball. On 80 minutes Marlon Harewood was teasing the defence near the corner flag when he lost the ball, but Blackburn's loose pass was picked up by the lively Yossi Benayoun, who put in a perfect ball across the goalmouth for the onrushing Matty Etherington. That made it 3-1 and the Hammers had it in the bag.

Dickov was given a straight red card soon afterward after a potentially crippling challenge on Konchesky, but the defender was soon back in the thick of it and West Ham comfortably held on for the win.

West Ham have pronounced that they are definitely Premier League and shown their intent. Whether things continue like this remain to be seen, but for now, the Hammers can be proud that they have won, and won in great style.

Player ratings don't include the horrendous first 20 minutes because they all showed the same nervousness.

Carroll (6) - Confident when he had to act, but didn't have to do that often. Couldn't do anything about the goal.
Ferdinand (7) - Grew in stature and made some important interceptions. Kept Kuqi quiet.
Gabbidon (8) - Solid. Looks at home in the Premiership so far. Good signing.
Dailly (6) - Caught out once or twice, probably our weakest link, but got forward a bit.
Konchesky (8) - Was the only outfield player who didn't seem blinded by the lights in the early first half, and went from strength to strength. Looks to be a fine signing by Pardew. Gets a bonus point for shoving Savage into the hoardings.
Reo-Coker (9) - Poor early in the first half but showed his class with some awesome passing and a sublime goal in the second half. Nearly got a card but got away with it.
Mullins (8) - Tough performance and kept Savage honest.
Benayoun (9) - Lively, creative, and intelligent play. Showed guts and some strong challenges that belied his small stature. Great signing.
Etherington (8) - Looked reluctant to skin his opponents but passed the ball well and followed up to open his goal account for the season.
Sheringham (8) - Showed huge commitment to the cause with some good attempts and a goal. Didn't want to come off the pitch for Newton.
Harewood (7) - Didn't get his goal, but played brilliantly with some lightning fast running and good touches. Scared the shit out of Blackburn's defence and drew players when it mattered. A 7 is probably a bit too low, but he wasted some fantastic chances. Needs to show a little more hunger for goal.

Newton (7) (on for Sheringham) - Fitted into the side well.
Noble (6) (on for Mullins) - Nearly got a goal on his Premiership debut after a goalmouth melee but little chance to impress otherwise.

Subs Not Used: Hislop, Ward, Zamora.
Goals: Sheringham 46, Reo-Coker 62, Etherington 80
Attendance: 33,305

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