Filed: Saturday, 13th September 2003
By: Graeme Howlett
The Hammers continued their ascent of the Nationwide First Division with a third consecutive win under the command of caretaker manager Trevor Brooking thanks to a first half header from captain Christian Dailly in this afternoon's top of the table clash against Reading at the Boleyn.
Dailly's thunderous 17th minute header - coming from a corner, no less - was enough to earn the Hammers all three points against a resilient Reading outfit, being as it was the only goal of the match.
Once again the performance wasn't exactly anything to write home about - but with just four players remaining from the team which drew 2-2 at Birmingham on the final day of last season that isn't really anything to worry about at this early stage.
Brooking sent out a different formation from that employed against Bradford and Ipswich; new signing Wayne Quinn and the returning Anton Ferdinand were used as wing backs in the first half, with a three man central defence of Dailly, Tomas Repka and Ian Pearce.
With Michael Carrick yet again absent Rob Lee returned to the centre of midfield alongside Kevin Horlock - whilst Neil Mellor drifted between strikers David Connolly and Jermain Defoe.
After all the talk of the last week the game began in the manner expected, with both sides offering no quarter. However it was the Hammers who started the brighter, and Dailly's goal was just desserts for such an enterprising start.
Looking back at the game Reading would be justified in feeling a little hard done by coming away with nothing to show for their efforts, although in truth Hammers keeper David James was rarely called upon despite the visitors overall dominance in terms of possession.
However it was the Hammers to whom the best chances of the game fell, and highly rated Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann showed exactly why he is so regarded with a string of top class saves to deny the likes of Matt Etherington, Jermain Defoe and Rob Lee.
Trevor Brooking, speaking after the game was naturally delighted with the three points - making a total of a maximum nine from his short spell in charge this season - and confirmed he was quite happy to continue whilst the situation with Alan Pardew is resolved.
"I will continue to do this job because the fans and the players have been very supportive," he said. "The job totally absorbs you and I must give it my 100% attention right now.
"Iíve already been to see Crewe play and now I am totally focused on our match next Tuesday and the five other games in the next three weeks.
"We're not pressing any panic buttons because, thanks to the players, we are getting results. The spirit is tremendous and everyone is pulling in the same direction. They've made it easier for me.
And as for the whereabouts of Alan Pardew, Brooking added:
"I don't know where Alan is. I'm also not sure what the ramifications of all this will be, I'm just thinking about Crewe next Tuesday.
"Iím not aware of any talks between directors of the two clubs in the boardroom today, although I did have a brief word with John Madejski in the tunnel at the end of the match. I just congratulated him on his team's excellent performance."
The win lifts the Hammers up into third place in the fledgling Division One table, with a visit to Crewe - who won 2-0 at Rotherham this afternoon - looming on Tuesday evening.
KUMB's full in-depth match report will follow soon ...
West Ham United: James, Ferdinand (Alexandersson 54), Pearce, Repka, Quinn, Dailly, Lee, Horlock, Connolly, Defoe, Mellor (Etherington 55).
Subs not used: Bywater, Kilgallon, Noble.
Booked: Connolly, Defoe, Horlock, Repka
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Williams, Brown, Shorey, Murray (Tyson 79), Hughes, Sidwell, Harper (Watson 76), Goater, Forster.
Subs not used: Ashdown, Mackie, Newman.
Booked: Hughes, Sidwell.
Referee: Dermot Gallagher
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