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Saturday, 5th April 2003

Southampton 1
West Ham United 1

by James Dawson

Jermain Defoe managed to salvage a point for the Hammers with just 7 minutes of play remaining. Although a win at St Mary’s could have done us a world of good I would settle for a point on this particular match. This makes it five games unbeaten and Roeder managed to overcome the “curse” of the manager of the month award.

Southampton were handed a hatful of chances in the opening twenty minutes but all were dealt with well by the in-form Hammers defence. Yet possession was too often given away (balls lumped into the air to a Southampton player); this is how Southampton had us pinned back.

Once West Ham had started to take control of the game we showed we were equally poor at running at players than passing simple balls around the park. Ferdinand had a couple of headers go well wide and Sinclair did well to dive and head the ball just pass Niemi’s post. West Ham had a free kick lined up on the edge of the area but no one got excited because we all know how good we are at set pieces. Unsurprisingly Bowyer knocked it over the bar.

A scrappy first half made this encounter look as if it were going nowhere and neither team was going to get anything - but then Beattie managed to slot home after what looked to be handball by a Southampton player which led to a cross and a scrappy finish. West Ham only had themselves to blame for this as they could not maintain possession and kept giving the ball away in dangerous positions. We started to look like the team we hoped we had forgotten earlier in the season; sections of our game play were starting to return to the old ways.

That goal capped off a boring first half and a dismal effort by the Hammers. How we could have done with (the injured) Michael Carrick’s cool head in the middle of the field instead of Steve Lomas’ persistent lack of ball control.

Half Time was called and it couldn’t have come sooner for West ham as we looked to be on the back foot. After a couple of fruity missiles (apples) had been thrown over and a couple of arguments had been broken up between fans the second half begun. Cisse on for Lomas and we hoped the French loanee could sort out our passing techniques; how wrong could I be? Cisse was the most embarrassing passer on the field and could not even find players a couple of metres from him without the ball being intercepted.

Kanoute was brought on for Ferdinand - and he looked geared up.

A string of disgraceful passes from Bowyer was the only thing worth mentioning in the opening ten minutes. West Ham were starting to look better (with the exception of Bowyer) and the defence were still handling everything well at the back. We were starting to take control of the game and starting to get shots in and around the area. Down the left side we had mastered how to pass a ball to one another but down the opposite side Bowyer was still failing miserably. Bowyer was making sure James had received the ball comfortably in the area when suddenly Marsden disgracefully took his legs clean away and received nothing but a warning.

Kanoute had brought a rush to the game and his flicks and trickery went down a treat with the travelling supporters. West Ham had a good effort from a corner turned away by a defender’s head; this brought lift to our game. We were charging down the wings and putting good balls into the centre of the box and the edge of the area. Bowyer was again hacked down by Marsden in front of the dugout and this started an altercation between coaching staff and players. Once this feud had calmed down Bowyer and Marsden both received yellow cards (Marsden shouldn’t have even been on the pitch after his earlier foul).

This got the travelling fans into a flurry of Bowyer chants and the Bubbles tune echoed around St Mary’s. The Hammers' tremendous support throughout the game was rewarded when (a quiet) Defoe lobbed the ball over Niemi’s outstretched arms. He joined the away fans to celebrate.

A few fans had managed to edge their way into the home fans support and started a bit of a ruck but the stewards soon stopped that. The Southampton fans left the ground to the singing of “Cheerio” - and we were happy.

Player Ratings

David James (7) Apart from the goal he dealt with everything

Glen Johnson (6) Got stuck in towards the end of the match but gave away possession too many times.

Rufus Brevett (7) One of the only players not to give the ball away and was putting some good challenges in.

Ian Pearce (9) Man of the Match. Dealt with everything excellently ; unbeatable in the air.

Tomas Repka (7) No mistakes except for a poor header to concede a corner

Trevor Sinclair (6) Quiet and was caught out of position too many times.

Lee Bowyer (3) Strung two completed passes together today. Wasn’t running or chasing anything down.

Joe Cole (6) Repetitively gave away possession.

Steve Lomas (5) Repetitively gave away possession.

Jermain Defoe (6) Surprisingly quiet except for his goal.

Les Ferdinand (6) Held the ball up well, no mistakes.

Substitutes

Edouard Cisse (4) Came on and couldn’t even supply simple short passes. When he should have played short balls he played long ones and lost possession.

Frederic Kanoute (8) Excellent. Great tricks and flicks and brought energy to the game.

Match Facts

West Ham United: James, Johnson, Pearce, Repka, Brevett, Sinclair, Bowyer, Cole, Lomas (Cisse 45), L.Ferdinand (Kanoute 58), Defoe.

Subs not used: Van Der Gouw, Hutchison, Dailly.

Southampton: Niemi, Telfer, Lundekvam, M.Svensson, Bridge, Fernandes (A.Svensson 77), Oakley, Prutton, Marsden, Beattie, Ormerod (Davies 67).

Subs not used: Jones, Higginbotham, Tessem.

Goals: Beattie (44), Defoe (82).

Booked: Fernandes, Marsden, M.Svensson, Bowyer, Cole.

Attendance: 31941.

Referee: M.Messias (York).

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