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Saturday, 24th November 2001

West Ham United 0
Tottenham 1

by Graeme Howlett

A depleted Hammers side slipped to a second successive home Premiership defeat at the hands of London rivals Tottenham this afternoon.

Les Ferdinand's 49th minute strike was enough to earn all three points for the visitors, who well deserved to win on the day.

Tottenham also hit the woodwork on three occasions, as Glenn Roeder's team struggled to come to terms with their opponents.

Worse news for the Hammers was the injury to Steve Lomas, diagnosed as a broken toe which could keep him out of action for the rest of the year.



Report by Graeme Howlett

Today was supposed to be a celebration. The new West Stand, which supposedly heralds an exciting new era for the club opened for business for the first time, and 15,000+ expectant supporters took their seats amongst the concrete and breeze blocks looking forward to a game to befit the occasion.

Never mind that those in the front few rows of the newly opened Lower Tier (including me) had to focus past 15 metres of mud to see the action - which was obscured every time someone on the touchline, watching from their sleek plastic chairs stood up. We're told the pitch will be moved nearer in time for the next home game.

Minor gripes aside the club should be congratulated for the work. The new stand looks absolutely tremendous; the Boleyn Ground will surely rank as one of the best stadiums in the country when (and that's a bit of an assumption) the East Stand is replaced too. Okay, the turrets look tacky, but it's a major improvement on the rickety old West that we had to put up with.

Back to the game - and the first bad news of the day arrived as the players entered the arena; no Di Canio, Kanoute, Carrick or Winterburn - all out with late, mysterious injuries. Scott Minto, Steve Lomas, Paul Kitson and Jermain Defoe were charged as their replacements.

With Joe Cole making his first start for eons it was a far different side from the team which had enjoyed earlier home wins against the likes of Newcastle and Southampton.

And make no mistake, this was the Hammers worst performance at Upton Park this season. Yes, we lost to Fulham by a greater margin but at least we managed to create some worthwhile goalscoring opportunities on that occasion.

At the Boleyn on Saturday I can't recall us mounting one serious assault on the Tottenham goal. John Moncur's dipping drive at least troubled Neil Sullivan enough to have to make a save - but there was very little else to savour.

Jermain Defoe should have been awarded a penalty in the first half when he was clearly tripped, but the appalling Elleray was having none of it. That was all we offered in a game which traditionally brings out the best in both sides.

The rejuvenated Spurs are making waves in the Premiership this season - and rightly so. As much as it is hard to admit they were by far the better side in this contest; had West Ham lost by three there could have been no complaints.

The only goal of a lacklustre affair arrived in the opening minutes of the second half. Les Ferdinand bundled home a cross which David James may have handled a little better, in retrospect.

Immediately following the goal we were treated to the farcical spectacle of watching Gus Poyet lurch around the pitch in a concussed stupor for a good five minutes whilst Spurs officials attempted to lead him from the pitch. Referee David Elerray bizarrely allowed the sideshow to continue, much to the derision of the home fans. It has since been revealed that Poyet was remonstrating as he thought Spurs should have been awarded a corner instead; opponents like that we'll take anyday.

Instead of responding to the goal in a positive fashion, the Hammers continued to overplay when in possession and allow the Spurs midfield to dominate. When a player of the calibre of Stefen Freund is allowed to control the show you know that something is amiss.

John Moncur went closest for the Hammers with a rasping drive from 22 yards late on, but even that barely troubled former Wimbledon keeper Sullivan, who was joined by Leonhardsen and Perry from his former club.

After just four minutes of injury time (which was a mystery in itself, as Poyet's sideshow which I mentioned earlier lasted a full five minutes) Elleray called time on another disappointing Hammers performance.

Predicatably the boos rang out around the ground; it was a shame that those prepared to jeer their team off hadn't been as willing to support their side when they had needed it most in the previous 90 minutes. Once again the atmospehe at the Boleyn was dreadful, the most vocal performance of 'Bubbles' came from the Spurs fans, rejoicing in our dissatisfaction.

Next up for Glenn Roeder is a trip to the Stadium of Light, to tackle Peter Reid's Sunderland.

It's the start of a tough period for the Hammers which sees us against Arsenal, Villa and Man Utd to name but three in the run up to Christmas.

The performances MUST improve - otherwise we'll be entering the new year in a similar situation to the one we entered this year ...

Player Ratings:

David James (6) Had very little to do apart from watch his posts rattled and pick the ball out of the net once. His kicking and distribution were okay, marginally better than Shaka's. His biggest advantage is that he gives a defence confidence, which is obviously vital.

Seb Schemmel (5) Another bad day for Archie. He struggled to contain Ziege, and his many forays into the Tottenham half nearly always ended in disappointment. If Schemmel is to be asked to cross the ball he must be taught the finer points of the art. Quickly.

Scott Minto (6) Did okay, but how we missed the penetrative runs associated with Nigel Winterburn. Minto is a good player and has done well since being recalled to the team, but is still not a patch on Winterburn.

Tomas Repka (6) Again, Repka did okay against some tough opposition in Les Ferdinand. Not as commanding as he was in his first few Hammers outings - perhaps something to do with the flurry of red cards lately?

Christian Dailly (6) Derided yet again by his own fans, Dailly was probably the pick of the defenders on show. Roeder elected to go with him instead of Foxe, and he didn't really put a foot wrong.

Joe Cole (7) Joe's first full game for a while but not a bad comeback. Tended to drift across the field whilst in possession instead of finding the killer ball or simply laying it off to a team mate. Still, the pick of the bunch on show. Man of the match.

Trevor Sinclair (6) Ineffective best sums up Sincs today. Started on the right, switched to the left late on but no penetration on either. Maybe the lack of interest from 'bigger clubs' is starting to affect his game.

Steve Lomas (7) But for the injury would probably have won man of the match. Gritty and determined as always, Lomas was the thorn in Spur's side as he played the defensive midfield role perfectly. The distribution still requires work but he has been missed. Just typical that we'll be without him for six weeks now.

Don Hutchison (5) Time and time again Hutchison has failed to impress this season. He is clearly struggling with his adapted role at West Ham; no longer is he allowed the free attacking midfield role than earned him the plaudits at Sunderland. Roeder must adapt his plans, or drop him. Simple as that.

Jermain Defoe (6) Should have had a penalty in the first half; apart from that there was very little else. Defoe needs a big man to play alongside, with Kanoute absent he was always going to struggle. It's clear he's not yet ready for a starting role, but coming off the bench for 15/20 minutes he'll do well this season.

Paul Kitson (5) Ineffective. The work rate couldn't be faulted, but he was given little opportunity to repeat last Monday's hat-trick. Richards and King did a good job on him today.

Subs:

John Moncur (6) One of Moncur's better sub appearances, although he yet again let himself - and the club - down with a late, rash challenge.

Official watch:

Elleray and his linesman were petty and disrupted the flow of the game. The linesman who worked the East stand flank was appalling, making several suspect offside decisions. Thankfully the Chicken Run were quick to point out his errors ...

Graeme Howlett

KUMB Stats

West Ham United: James, Schemmel, Minto, Dailly, Repka, Sinclair, Cole, Hutchison, Lomas, Kitson, Defoe

Subs: Moncur (Lomas 51), Hislop, Foxe, Courtois, Todorov

Tottenham: Sullivan, Perry, Ziege, Richards, King, Anderton, Freund, Poyet, Davies, Ferdinand, Sheringham

Subs: Leonhardsen (Poyet 51), Beasant, Bunjevcevic, Thelwell, Rebrov

Goals: Ferdinand (49)

Booked: Freund (cynical trip, 81), Cole (pushing Freund, 81), Moncur (have a guess, 83)

Attendance: 32,780

Referee: David Elleray (5)

Man of the match: Joe Cole

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