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Saturday, 30th March 2002

West Ham United 3
Ipswich Town 1

by Graeme Howlett

The Hammers virtually guaranteed Premiership survival with a comfortable 3-1 win against strugglers Ipswich Town at the Boleyn this afternoon.

Goals from Steve Lomas, Paolo Di Canio and Jermain Defoe consigned Ipswich to their second defeat of the season against the Hammers, who deserved a victory which, for a while, looked like not happening at all.

On a wonderful spring day in East London Glenn Roeder's side completely dominated the first half, but only Steve Lomas' header ten minutes from half-time separated the sides at the break.

Despite controlling the game after the break the Hammers wasted several goalscoring opportunities, and they paid the price with just twenty minutes remaining when Marcus Bent scrambled an equaliser in just about Ipswich's first meaningful attack of the match.

Fortunately for the Hammers the lead was restored inside of three minutes when Paolo Di Canio applied a top class finish to his original shot which was well saved by Sereni.

And late substitute Jermain Defoe sealed the win for the Hammers five minutes from time with a low drive from 18 yards.

The win moved the Hammers back into tenth spot and on to forty points, just two points behind Aston Villa in seventh.

A delighted Glenn Roeder said after the game:

"Forty points is a milestone for a lot of clubs like ours at the start of the season because generally speaking it is considered to be the safety point, and you should be playing Premiership football the next year.

"But it is possible we shall need a few more points. Now that we have got to 40 we need to keep our eye on the ball and be motivated right up to our game with Bolton on the last day of the season.

"We had a long meeting yesterday and I told the players that I consider this to be the most important month of the season. This is when the prizes are handed out and this is when the big players play, so it is important we stay motivated."

Player ratings:

David James (8) Generally commanded his area well, and made very little in the way of mistakes throughout the afternoon. Highlight of the day for Jamo was the terrific throw which led to a Hammers counter attack on the left flank - that, plus the confidence he installs in his defence are one of the biggest plusses for his boss this season.

Nigel Winterburn (8) One of those performances you relish from Winterburn. Once again defying his age Nige must have covered every blade of grass in the first half to the delight of the Boleyn faithful. Had Lady Luck been smiling upon him he could have had a goal to go with his excellent work. Faded towards the end a little - as one would expect from a 38-year-old playing at this level - but still one of his best performances of the season.

Sebastien Schemmel (7) A good game for Seb; he appeared to be more at ease knowing that Trevor Sinclair was ahead of him, unlike in the last game against Manchester United. Defensively he was as good as he has been for several weeks, but it must be said that Ipswich were just about the worst side attack-wise we've seen at the Boleyn this season.

Christian Dailly (9) An absolute belter from Dailly, who is week by week becoming one of our most consistent players - an incredible turnaround from the kind of nervous performances we witnessed at the beginning of the season. Today he was magnificent, imperious; a rock at the heart of our defence. Obviously he will come up against far better teams in the future, but let that minor fact not diminish his performance today. Man of the match - and Player of the Season, anyone?

Tomas Repka (7) After taking much criticism for the costly errors against Manchester United it was good to see Tommy back at his very best this afternoon. As previously mentioned the calibre of the opposition wasn't up to much, but his did his job, and did it well. Welcome back Mr.Repka.

Joe Cole (7) An unaccustomed role for Joe Cole - but the second time inside of a week that he had filled the left sided midfield berth, following his performance for England in midweek. We have already seen enough from the boy wonder this season to know that the left is not his best position, but he gave it his all today in an effort to prove those who (unfairly) held him at fault for the first Italian goal on Wednesday wrong. And he did - just about, but whether it was good enough to catch Mr.Eriksson's eye is another thing ...

Trevor Sinclair (7) Tricky Trev's second full game in four days, but it didn't show. Solid against Italy on Wednesday, and just as good today. Not perhaps one of his best games of the season but some of his approach play was a delight to watch, and even if he isn't playing at the top of his form he's still the kind of player you want in your side. Back in his preferred position on the right he exploited Ipswich's weaknesses time after time, and on another day might have had a goal or two himself.

Steve Lomas (8) Who would have bet on Shaggy scoring the opening goal two matches in a row after a barren spell which lasted some 16 months? Well he did, and boy did he enjoy it - just as he always does. A terrific game from our (former?) captain, who relished playing back in the centre of the park to where he is best suited. Clearly enjoying his football at the moment is our Steve, and it's great to see him back showing the sort of form which earned him such commendation at the start of his Hammers career.

Michael Carrick (7) Some of his passing was simply a joy to watch this afternoon, especially in the first half. He sprayed the ball around delightfully today, in a manner not too distant from that of the great Trevor Brooking. So cultured for a man of such tender years, this is going to be one of England's best midfield players for many a year to come. Faded towards the end of the game - and perhaps not still fully match fit, but an excellent performance nonetheless.

Paolo Di Canio (7) It looked for much of the game as if Paolo had his boots on the wrong feet; those fans sitting in 'Row Z' were probably more worried about his shooting that Ipswich keeper Sereni. But in time honoured tradition the maestro intervened at the crucial moment to restore the Hammers lead right after the visitors had (undeservedly) equalised. The finish was a touch of class; an airborne volley, much the same as that goal against Wimbledon a couple of years ago which flew off the outside of his boot into the right hand corner. Still looked frustrated at times, but was there when called upon.

Frederic Kanoute (7) It is hard not to feel for Freddy at times; with Defoe on the bench every miss is scrutinised and rather unfairly the crowd get on his back at times - especially when following every shot wide of the target with chants of 'Jermain Defoe'. Substituted again for his protégé, when perhaps it may have been better to rest someone else. Whether he moves on in the summer as suggested is another thing, but should he do so you get the feeling that we won't have seen the best of Freddy Kanoute.

Jermain Defoe (7) The customary fifteen minutes of fame for Defoe, swiftly followed by the customary goal from the bench - a delightful strike from the edge of the box. He and Kanoute should prove to be a real force together next season, the little and large partnership that has proved so fruitful for many sides over the years. Still too slight of frame for the Premiership, one wonders just how good he will be in three or fours years time, the potential this young man possesses is simply enormous.

John Moncur (6) Back from injury, and centre stage afforded for Moncs for his now familiar cameo performance. No booking this week, but still managed to give the crowd a laugh when he cheekily threw the ball at a supporter - for what, one wonders, but the fans appreciated it - as they did when he virtually assaulted the linesman whilst warming up in the first half. The only sad thing is that we don't talk about his football any more ...

KUMB Stats

West Ham United: James, Schemmel, Winterburn, Repka, Lomas, Sinclair, Carrick, Cole, Kanoute, Di Canio (Moncur 89)

Subs: Defoe (Kanoute 75), Moncur, Hisfrom lop, Labant, Pearce

Ipswich Town: Sereni, Wilnis, Clapham, McGreal, Hreidarsson, Venus, Holland, Wright, Peralta, Stewart, Bent

Subs: Miller (Wright 45), George (Peralta 53), Marshall, Armstrong, Bent

Goals: Lomas (35), Bent (70), Di Canio (73), Defoe (85)

Booked: Miller (69), Bent (78)

Referee: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 33,871

Man of the match: Christian Dailly

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