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Saturday, 25th November 2000

Southampton 2
West Ham United 3

by Staff Writer

A part of West Ham died this week when it was announced that Rio Ferdinand was being sold to Leeds United. Many fans felt betrayed by comments throughout the whole affair that promised Ferdinand would not be sold to Leeds, at any cost.

To make matters worse, the team was decimated at the back by injury which had left us with only one fit senior centre-back (according to Redknapp).

Which all points to the inevitable capitulation at one of our least favourite grounds. The Dell is up there with the Anfield's and Old Trafford's as far as winning games goes; this writer remembers going last at the start of the 88/89 season when we were soundly beaten 4-0 - one of many bad days down there over the years. About time they pulled it down.

So with all this in mind, how on Earth did we go down there today and win? Only last week we broke the Elland Road jinx, and now at the Dell!

Harry Redknapp decided that we needed to play with an attacking formation today because of the frailties at the back. Back came Paolo Di Canio to partner Freddy Kanoute, and Kaba Diawara - a natural striker - was employed on the left of a four man midfield.

Southampton actually drew first blood after 20 minutes; Oakley's impressive drive flew past Shaka Hislop to give the home side the lead.

But the Hammers went in to the break 2-1 up, thanks to two goals inside three minutes. Trevor Sinclair, playing his best football again set up Freddy Kanoute for a glancing header on 41 minutes.

Sinclair's next cross just two minutes later was headed out of the danger zone into the path of veteran Stuart Pearce, who drilled the Hammers second home from 20 yards.

The Saints drew level after just seven minutes of the second-half; the in-form James Beattie cleverly volleyed home a low cross to make it 2-2.

But the Hammers, having recaptured their form in recent weeks were not prepared to settle for the point. They earned their reward for some positive, attacking football with 20 minutes of the game remaining. Trevor Sinclair, instrumental in the first two goals added a third after being set clear on goal by a deft Di Canio header. Paul Jones had no chance as Sinclair slid the ball beyond him from the edge of the box.

The win was certainly good news for the West Ham board; a defeat today and the planned protest over the sale of Ferdinand at next weeks home game with Middlesbrough may have recruited many new converts.

The fans await to see how much of the Ferdinand cash will be given to Harry Redknapp with which to invest in new players. Redknapp too seems keen to get his hands on the filthy lucre; he confirmed tonight that not is he only after Liverpool's Rigobert Song, but also another mystery European defender.

Apart from 'Riogate' everything has been going like a dream of late for the club. That's five wins and a draw now from our last six games, and today's win lifts us into ninth place in the Premiership - just three points behind Liverpool in fifth.

Next up are Sheffield Wednesday (on Wednesday) and Bryan Robson's beleaguered Middlesbrough. Two wins there and the fans might just start to calm down about the sale of Rio.

Macht Facts

West Ham United: Hislop, Winterburn, S Pearce, Stimac, Lomas, Sinclair, Lampard, Carrick, Di Canio, Diawara, Kanoute.

Subs: Bywater, Potts, Moncur, Cole, Suker.

Southampton: Jones, Dodd, Lundekvam, Richards, Oakley, Tessem, Kachloul, Pahars, Bridge, Beattie, El Khalej.

Subs: Draper, Moss, Marsden, Rosler, Davies.

Goals: Oakley (20), Kanoute (41), S Pearce (43), Beattie (50), Sinclair (69).

Booked: El Khalej, Stimac, Winterburn.

Sent Off: None.

Referee: S Bennett.

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