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Sunday, 14th October 2001

Blackburn Rovers 7
West Ham United 1

by Gordon Thrower

They think its all over.....

..Well I did when I left Ewood Park 10 minutes before the end of this, dire, never to be forgotten game, only to reach my car, turn on the radio and hear Blackburn score their seventh. If this had been a boxing match the referee would have stopped it much earlier in order to prevent the victors inflicting further injury. To say that watching the game was an embarrassment would be too much of an understatement. We were appalling!

Right from the kick off the players didnít seem to know how or where they were playing. Rovers coudnít believe their fortune with the amount of space they were allowed down our left flank attacking the totally lost Ragi Soma, in an unfamiliar left back role.

Being unable to recall in which order all of the goals came, nor might I add, having a great desire to be reminded, letís just say that all of Blackburns first half goals, and the others for that matter, came about through basic defensive errors. All too often Blackburn were given far to much space.

Repka, who valiantly tried his utmost to hold a totally inept defence together, received a yellow card for a strong challenge and although having to be more cautious from then on, still looks class and thankfully so for without him I dread to think what the half-time scoreline would have read.

Carrick managed to curl a low shot into the net 5 minutes before the break to give the travelling thousands a glimmer of hope. Okay now lads, if we can score an early goal in the second half we can get back into this game.

With Dailly and Moncur substituted by McCann and Foxe, the Hammers showed more promise, they had more fight about them. Too much unfortunately. The game turned ugly with reckless challenges and the inevitable pushing and shoving resulting in further bookings.

Then disaster struck. Repka tackled and the aptly named referee DíUrso, showed him his second yellow card and he was off for an early shower and claim his seat on the coach. Although at the time of writing this report I havenít seen a replay of the challenge, it did seem very harsh and I think he was extremely unlucky.

With our man-of-the-match (even though he didnít play the 90 minutes) missing, heads dropped further and we were at the mercy of Sounessí Wild Rovers and it was game over when they scored their fourth. Sinclair missed a sitter from 5 yards when he headed down and the ball bounced up and over the goal, and the floodgates at the other end opened wider for number five.

I left the ground at this point through disgust (something I havenít done for years and years). As I made my way up the Bolton Road a cheer went up. Had we got a goal back? No the noise was too loud as around five hundred Hammers fans had had the same idea as me and were walking away. I got to my car and as I mentioned earlier, turned on the radio just in time to hear number seven go in.

Never have I seen such an inept display from a West Ham side. Few seemed willing to run, let alone fight, for the ball. In fact after the game one Blackburn fan who sat close to the dug out, said that a highly respected member of the West Ham coaching staff leaned across to him and said, "You wouldnít believe how much some of these blokes are being paid, and still they wonít run for the ball." That okay then I suppose!

Much has been said about disruption in the dressing room with a certain player(s) being the cause. These are highly paid professionals and as such, should be able to rise above any such disharmony in order to earn their salary.

So where do we go from here? God only knows. Any good points? Schemmel and Repka look the only ones certain of keeping their starting place based on performance (the latter providing he doesnít get sent off every other game he plays).

After the Everton game Roeder said that Ďwe need to forget that game.í A friend of mine at the game, Olie, commented, "Perhaps they are the games you NEED to remember!" How true.

Player ratings (out of 10):

Hislop (6): Some good shot stopping kept the tally down but general positioning and command was poor.

Soma (5): Nightmare in unfamiliar position allowed Rovers freedom of our left flank.

Schemmel (7): Gave 100% as usual but had a couple of chances in the second half and looked to lay the ball off when he could have taken the opportunities himself.

Dailly (5): Woeful defending and gifted one goal by being caught in possession in the 6 yard box.

Repka (7): Until his sending off, looked the only player who knew what he had to do. And did all he could.

Moncur (5): Reckless tackling will alwyas be his downfall.

Carrick (6): Below par performance but nice goal to give us some brief hope.

Sinclair (6): Had a go but knocked off the ball too easily and tried to take on one man too may. Missed a sitter.

Di Canio (5): Either heís brilliant or poor, nothing in between. Today he was poor.

Kanoute (5): Wants to walk the ball in the net too often.

Hutchison (5): Not sure of his role it seesms.

Subs used:

McCann (6): An own goal but did show some nice touches.

Foxe (6): Some nice touches but still not convinced yet.

West Ham United: Hislop, Schemmel, Soma, Repka, Dailly, Moncur, Carrick, Hutchison, Sicnlair, Di Canio, Kanoute

Subs: McCann (Moncur 45), Foxe (Dailly 45), Bywater, Kitson, Defoe

Blackburn Rovers: Friedel, Berg, Bjorneby, Dunn, Johannson, Johnson, Flitcroft, Neill, Tugay, Grabbi, Jansen

Subs: Short (Berg 70), Hignett (Johnson 75), Hughes (Grabbi 75), Kelly, Mahon

Goals: Flitcroft (17), Dunn (27), Johnson (28), McCann (og 62), Tugay (80), Jansen (82), Hignett (89)

Bookings: Moncur (foul, 24), Repka (foul, 30), Kanoute (foul, 55), Di Canio (dissent, 55), Grabbi (off the ball incident, 56)

Sending offs: Repka (foul, 60)

Referee: Andy D'Urso (Billericay, 4)

Attendance: 22,712

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