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Tuesday, 31st October 2000

West Ham United 2
Blackburn Rovers 0

by Staff Writer

A good crowd packed in to the Boleyn tonight to watch the Hammers beat Blackburn 2-0 in the Worthington Cup third round. The club's scheme to let 4 children in with an adult for a quid apiece paid dividends, and would certainly appear to be a popular idea.

The game itself was a pretty drab affair. Graeme Souness' idea to let the reserves have a run-around for 90 minutes was a surprise - but no more than to West Ham's premiership superstars, who spent all bar five minutes of the first half chasing the tails of the young upstarts.

Up until the three-quarter mark of the game this report was going to be scathing in it's attacks on the players, the management and anyone else involved with the club. However, the way the team managed to kill off a bouyant opposition in the final quarter cooled my anger somewhat, although I still have several worries with what I saw go before.

Freddy Kanoute is going through a real bad spell of low confidence. Okay, in the end he had a vital part in both goals, but I still think it's about time he was given a break. He needs to learn how to hold the ball up for a start (for inspiration dare I suggest watching Johnny Hartson?)

Paolo Di Canio, despite somehow being awarded the Sky man of the match award, was also poor - again. Once too often he tried to beat two or three men, when there was always an easier option on. No problem when it's on the edge of their box, but on the half way line? Harry have a word.

It's unfair perhaps to pick on those two individuals, but in reality they were just two examples from a team currently full of problems. There is no cohesion about this side at the moment; it's like watching 11 individuals instead of a team. The fluent passing and movement from last, and the early part of this season has all but disappeared.

Despite that it was nice to see a goal from a corner at last - and it even looked like a trademark textbook move. Paolo Di Canio's 67th minute corner was flicked on at the near post by Freddy Kanoute, and Davor Suker - who was full of invention and trickery all night - guided the ball into the back of the net from the back post.

The second, and killer goal came with just seven minutes left on the clock, and there was more than an element of farce about it.

Paolo Di Canio was brought down in the box, and duly smashed home the resulting penalty. But celebrations were cut short when referee Wiley ordered a retake, following encroachment before the ball was kicked (by a Blackburn defender I may add!) Di Canio's second take was hit straight at the keeper, but he managed to keep his balance to toe-poke the rebound home.

So two wins in four days for Harry's boys, but I still can't help feeling that there are a lot of unresolved problems there. Too many players are performing way below par, and Harry doesn't appear to know what to do about it.

Minds focus towards the crucial game at Derby next Monday. The team has six days to recuperate and prepare for a game which, when playing to their full potential, should be a certain three points.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Hislop, Potts, I.Pearce, S.Pearce, Ferdinand, Sinclair, Lampard, Carrick, Suker, Kanoute, Di Canio.

Subs: Bywater, Charles, Moncur (Kanoute 88), Kitson, Keller.

Blackburn Rovers: Kelly, Curtis, Kenna, Dailly, Dunning, Richards, Carsley, Taylor, Johnson, Ostenstad.

Subs: Filan, O'Brien, Douglas (Johnson 55), Dunn (Dunning 68), Flitcroft (Taylor 73).

Goals: Suker (67), Di Canio (pen, 83).

Booked: Johnson.

Sent Off: None.

Referee: A.Wiley.

Attendance: 21,863.

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