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Wednesday, 29th November 2000

West Ham United 1
Sheffield Wednesday 2

by Staff Writer

Terry Brown must be doing his nut tonight. The Hammers chairman faces an anti-board protest on Saturday following the match with Middlesbrough by fans angered by the sale of Rio Ferdinand to Leeds United.

A win on Saturday at Southampton had helped appease the supporters anger somewhat. But defeat tonight will have undone all of the good work at the Dell, and Brown will instead look forward to a very uncomfortable few days as he will inevitably come under increased pressure from irate fans following another embarrassing cup exit at the hands of lower division opposition.

As West Ham fans we really shouldn't be surprised at the result. I can't even bother to begin to start quoting a list of famous defeats in the past; we're all only too aware of them already. Once again we are the laughing stock of football.

Now Sheffield Wednesday can add their name to that long list of dishonour. They came to Upton Park tonight as huge underdogs, and in the end could have won by a wider margin, had it not been for the brilliance of Shaka Hislop.

Much has been spoken about the defensive frailties of the team since the departure of Ferdinand - and tonight they were cruelly exposed by a team struggling to score goals in England's second division. Wednesday had only four attempts on goal all night compared to West Ham's 20 plus, and managed to score twice. Not a bad ratio at all.

However all had seemed well for the first half-hour. The Hammers took the game to Wednesday, but as they have done so often this season, failed to find the clinical touch.

With their first real attack of the game and totally against the run of play, the visitors silenced Upton Park with a goal.

Owen Morrison found himself in acres of space after a flick-on from Efan Ekoku, and the young winger coolly slotted the ball beyond the bewildered Shaka Hislop to silence Upton Park.

But worse was to come. Just three minutes into the second half West Ham fell asleep from a corner kick, and Ashley Westwood took advantage to nod home from eight yards.

The Hammers finally got into gear for the final half-hour, and got their just desserts on 72 minutes, when Frank Lampard scored from a well hit volley.

Wave after wave of West Ham attacks bore down on the Wednesday goal, and an equaliser looked inevitable. But somehow the visitors managed to hang on to record a memorable victory over a devastated West Ham, who had seen this competition as a real chance of silverware this season. We should have known better.

The Hammers only have themselves to blame for losing this game tonight. Bad finishing (none more so than from Freddy Kanoute who missed a sitter from three yards in injury time), two sloppy goals given away; bad, bad defensive mistakes.

The question everybody will ask is: would Wednesday have scored either of their goals if Rio was still here?

I'll leave that one with you.

Match Facts

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

Subs: Bywater, Potts, Moncur, Keller, Suker (Song 72).

Sheff Weds: Pressman, Lescott, Walker, Westwood, Crane, Sibon, Haslam, Geary, Quinn, Ekoku, Morrisson.

Subs: Booth, Hamshaw, De Piedi, Humphreys, Stringer.

Goals: Morrison (29), Crane (49), Lampard (72).

Booked: Di Canio, Sibon, Crane, Quinn.

Sent Off: None.

Referee: P.Danson.

Attendance: 25,853.

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