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Wednesday, 24th October 2001

West Ham United 2
Chelsea 1

by Graeme Howlett

Typical bloody West Ham. Over the years us poor suffering supporters have had to endure unexplainable defeats against lower ranked sides on a regular basis whilst enjoying success after success over the so called big boys.

So why should this season be any different?

Back to Upton Park for the second time after those humiliating defeats against Blackburn and Everton the Hammers were up against an unbeaten Chelsea side, already firmly staking their claim for a Champions League spot come the end of the season.

Even the most optimistic Hammer was struggling to predict a win tonight against our old foes from across the water.

But true to tradition the form books were well and truly turned upside down as the Hammers dished out a lesson to the millionaires from the West side.

As far as performances go, this was far from vintage West Ham. Tonight it was about digging in and desperately hanging on to what you had.

And man for man the Hammers were up for the task. Many Roeder teams will play far, far better than this in days to come but still end up on the losing side.

To be fair Chelsea couldn't have been more generous. They gifted the Hammers a two goal start and contrived to waste chance after chance - much to the amusement of the Boleyn faithful.



That two goal start was earned by lightning strikes from Carrick and Kanoute, both created by the imagination of Paolo Di Canio and Trevor Sinclair.

But the joy was shortlived as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink took advantage of some lax Hammers defending to bring his team right back into the game with a sweetly struck drive - all this inside the opening 22 minutes.

From that moment on it was a case of backs to the wall for the Hammers who never managed to get into top gear. Glenn Roeder sensed this by making a tactical switch at half time, bringing Jermain Defoe on for Laurent Courtois who failed to repeat his recent run of good form.

In all honesty the tactical switch failed to break Chelsea's momentum and the visitors will rightfully feel aggrieved at not earning at least a point.

But at this level you cannot fail to spurn as many opportunities as Chelsea did tonight, and they fully paid the price for a lack of killer instinct in front of goal.

Shaka Hislop was a major factor in all this. He made three outstanding saves on the night, and also enjoyed a large slice of luck at the death when Hasselbaink's thunderstrike shook the woodwork when he seemed certain to level the scores.

Frank Lampard, returning to Upton Park for the first time since his 11m transfer suffered a miserable night. He should have levelled the scores at the end of the first half and trudged off disconsolately with ten minutes to go as he suffered the final humiliation of being substituted after a woeful performance. Predictably a chorus of 'what a waste of money' was sounded by the Boleyn faithful.

The final whistle, which arrived after three minutes of nervewracking injury time was greeted by the biggest cheer so far this season. The win, more importantly lifts the Hammers up to 13th in the Premiership - a six place improvement since the weekend.

There is clearly a lot of work for Glenn Roeder still to do - but to play poorly in two games and come away with six points can't be bad at all ...

Player ratings:

Hislop (8) A terrific performance from Shaka, who is steadily improving game by game. Made at least three crucial saves tonight to keep the Hammers in the game. Once again slightly dodgy on crosses but it's probably unfair to criticise after such an accomplished performance.

Schemmel (7) No joy going forward tonight for Archie, but he was sound at the back when it really mattered. Full of running as always and still managed to gee the crowd uo when it went a bit quiet in the second half. Harry Redknapp may have pulled off some bargains - but none as good as this.

Winterburn (8) Wonderful performance from Nigel. Yet again he could be seen bursting forward on the overlap as late as the 90th minute - not bad for someone who feels this is his last season at the top. Defended solidly against some concentrated pressure by Chelsea.

Dailly (7) Not spectacular, not pretty - but certainly effective. His distribution may not be the best but he got a foot in wherever necessary tonight. An able partner on his day for Tomas Repka, Dailly can definitely play but the confidence seems to be lacking at the moment. Obviously the booing on Saturday didn't help - but then wasn't it the same for Ian Pearce when he first joined the club?

Repka (9) Oh how we will miss him in our next two games. Facing suspension again, Repka said 'goodbye' in the best possible way. His head to head with Hasselbaink was the most talked about battle pre-match, and it lived up to expectations - with Repka clearly getting the upper hand. His tackling, commitment and desire are truly first class, and at this rate he could go on to be one of the best defenders we have had the pleasure to witness at the Boleyn.

Courtois (6) Ineffective on the night, the little Frenchman struggled to make an impact. He preferred to take the easy option too often instead of trying his luck in the channels. Substituted in a tactical switch at half time.

Sinclair (7) Had a hand in both goals and worked hard throughout the night. Whatever your feelings over his transfer request you cannot argue that it has adversely affected his game. Not quite as incisive as he can be but spent the majority of the night backtracking to cover the defence.

Hutchison (6) I'm beginning to question the validity of spending 5m on Hutchison. Clearly a good player he is struggling to adapt to life at Upton Park. Whether he is simply struggling with Roeder's tactics is unknown, but he is clearly playing way below the standard his huge fee should demand. Tonight he spent the majority of night deep inside his own half as the Hammers looked to hang on to the slender lead. We need more Don.

Carrick (7) Probably the pick of the midfielders, Carrick had his best game for several weeks. Great goal aside he was the lynchpin for most of the Hammers forays into opposition territory, and worked hard to snub the threat of the Chelsea midfield. Still far from the form which saw him drafted into the England squad last season - but on tonight's evidence, he's getting there.

Di Canio (6) Not one of Paolo's best, this. Too often he dallied in front of goal, and he was also reticent to challenge opposition defenders. The tricks didn't work, and when that happens the head tends to go down.

Kanoute (7) A superb goal, but not a lot else. He started well but faded badly, which culminated in his 79th minute substitution.

Subs:

Defoe (6) Spurned a golden opportunity to put the game beyond the visitors when he screwed wide when one on one with Bosnich. five minutes after his introduction. Still a little light at this level but he put himself about well thereafter and certainly did enough to ensure a place on the bench at Ipswich on Saturday.

Kitson (6) Prolific in the reserves at late Kitson didn't have really have enough time to show what he can do. But he showed his maturity by holding up play to waste vital seconds at the death. Looked generally fit and lively and could yet do a job for West Ham, despite all the adverse publicity.

West Ham United: Hislop, Schemmel, Winterburn, Repka, Dailly, Courtois, Sinclair, Hutchison, Carrick, Di Canio, Kanoute

Subs: Defoe (Courtois 45), Kitson (Kanoute 79), Bywater, Foxe, Moncur

Chelsea: Bosnich, Melchiot, Le Saux, Terry, Gallas, Lampard, Petit, Jokanovic, Zola, Gudjohnsen, Hasselbaink

Subs: Dalla Bona (Petit 61), Zenden (Gudjohnsen 72), Forssell (Lampard 80), Evans, Desailly

Goals: Carrick (5), Kanoute (13), Hasselbaink (22)

Referee: D.Gallagher (4)

Attendance: 26,520

Man of the Match: Tomas Repka

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