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West Ham Utd 4 Blackburn 1

Filed: Saturday, 30th August 2008
By: Staff Writer

Alan Curbishley's Hammers rolled back the clock at the Boleyn this afternoon with a performance befitting the West Ham of old.

Curbishley's side, full of free-flowing attacking football were just about as impressive as they have been in any game since he succeeded Alan Pardew in 2006.

And making it that little bit sweeter for many United fans was the sight of public enemy no.1 Paul Ince slumped disconsolately in the opposition dugout come the final whistle; a first visit to the Boleyn Ground in a managerial capacity that he'll want to quickly forget.

Ince, who predictably received a rousing chorus of boos upon his entrance to the stadium saw his side fall behind after just 12 minutes when Calum Davenport rose highest to connect with a pinpoint Julien Faubert corner.

Just eight minutes later and for the second home Premier League game in succession the Hammers were two up. A superb 40-yard pass from Mark Noble sent Julien Faubert away on the right flank; the Frenchman's cross being met by the advancing Noble whose shot was deflected into the net via the knee of the unfortunate Samba.

But not for the first time this season the Hammers were caught half asleep immediately after scoring. Calum Davenport was the villain of the piece this time, allowing Jason Roberts to squirm free from his grasp and fire home under the body of Rob Green from close range.

Rovers thought they had equalised just ahead of the half-time break but Matt Derbyshire's apparently 'good' goal was disallowed by referee Riley. For what exactly exactly remains something of a mystery; it was a let-off for the Hammers.

It had been an excellent first half effort from the Irons who, much to the delight of the crowd, played their football on the ground whilst giving their opponents little room to manouvre - especially in the centre of the park where Mark Noble and Scott Parker both enjoyed a superb opening 45.

But as against Wigan a fortnight ago, the Hammers were in trouble within the opening minutes of the second period. Carlton Cole's raised hands - whilst on the end of a defensive wall positioned so as to divert Blackburn's dangerous looking free-kick on the edge of the box - collided with the ball and referee Riley was left with no option but to award a penalty.

Last season Rob Green saved a quite incredible six out of eight penalties faced - and he was on hand yet again to divert Jason Roberts' spot-kick courtesy of an outstretched left index finger. West Ham had had more than their fair share of warnings.

Roberts, already booked for dissent and still rueing the penalty miss was lucky to escape a red card minutes later when his forearm connected with Valon Behrami's nose as the pair tussled by the goal line. The poor Swiss - who suffered a similar facial injury in midweek against Macclesfield - stayed down for a good three minutes in order to receive treatment. Welcome to the Premier League.

With half-an-hour left to play nervous Irons fans would perhaps be forgiven for expecting a Curbishley team to retreat a little deeper in order to preserve their narrow advantage. At least that's the way it usually happens - but when centre-half Calum Davenport took a 20-yard cross down on one foot before blasting a sizzler inches wide of Paul Robinson's far post with the other it was quite clearly not going to be that kind of day.

Whether it was a case of Curbishley going for broke, driven by criticism aimed at his tactics and/or the continued speculation concerning his future is unknown but his team were a joy to watch today. It's often said by Hammers fans that they'd rather lose an entertaining game 4-3 than win a droll affair 1-0 - well, they were going to get exactly what they wanted today as both sides continued to push forward in search of further goals.

In the end it was to be late strikes from the returning Craig Bellamy and Carlton Cole that saw the game go in United's favour but Blackburn, with their incorrectly-disallowed 'goal' and a penalty miss could have easily repeated their notable 3-2 win at Everton on the opening day of the season.

Rovers had battled hard to get something out of the game; both Samba and Roberts (twice) had Rob Green stretching in the closing minutes - but it was substitute Craig Bellamy, making his first start of the season that settled the match in the second minute of injury time.

Lucas Neill, who once again had struggled for pace (especially against Blackburn's young sub Treacy) saw the opportunity and fired a free-kick from deep inside West Ham's own half into space for Bellamy to race onto. Showing no effects of his recent hamstring injury the Welsh striker latched onto the ball before smashing an unstoppable volley beyond Paul Robinson.

Carlton Cole - who had, until that point, worked his socks off again for little obvious reward - got his just desserts with just seconds of the five added minutes remaining when some showboating by Valon Behrami and Craig Bellamy resulted in a cross from the Swiss falling into his path just inches from goal.

Up until today West Ham had failed to beat Wigan or Macclesfield convincingly whilst the defeat at Manchester City was a real low point. Alan Curbishley is used to battling in the face of adversity - the 'Great Escape' is still fresh in the minds of many - and today he and his troops came out fighting to serve up a real treat for everyone inside the Boleyn Ground.

There's a long way to go before Curbishley will be accepted by some United fans - and one swallow does not a summer make. But if they can continue to produce performances - and, ever more importantly, a level of commitment - like this on a regular basis even the most devout Curbishley-outer will be having second thoughts.

All in all the game was a tremendous advert for the Premier League - and whilst the result put a claret and blue-tinged gloss on it the quality of football was such that not too many Hammers fans would have complained had Blackburn taken something out of the game, as they had threatened to do for so long.

The win sees the Hammers climb 13 places in the Premier League to third (whilst Tottenham slip to the bottom); next up for Curbishley's team is the trip to new-boys Stoke City in a fortnight's time.

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by gportugal
07:53AM 31st Aug 2008
''A bit of breathing space ,yes. But anyone who thinks all is well in the world of WHU now needs a reality check and will get one soon. Agreed that the booing the manager and players is totally out of order and only makes it worse. But at the same time fans do have a right to be angry with the manner in which the board has conducted its business this summer. If the board had gone about its business properly perhaps there would be less booing.

I hope that we are 'going to be alright'. But we were fortunate to take 3 points vs Wigan and if it was not for Blackburn's potential equalizer being questionably ruled offside and for Green's superb penalty save we may well have taken nothing from yesterday's fixture. We are extremely lucky to be sitting on 6 points,and anyone who is honest with himself will admit that.

Does anyone really believe that Ashton and Bellamy will make it through the majority of the season without another serious injury? What are we going to do when one of those 2 gets re-injured?

Nice for the immediate pressure to be off as opposed to teams like West Brom and Spurs with scarcely a point. But this is the easier part of our schedule. If we don't take points in these first 2 months of the season, we're never going to.

Supporters,genuine ones, are angry for a reason and have every right to be. A number of those supporters are sensible enough not to be angry with Curbishley, who is being undermined, but angry with the West Ham board.''

by Darren H
07:49AM 31st Aug 2008
''Please can everybody now lay off Curbs. He as given us our best start to a season in 9 years. I think he deserves a bit of praise instead of stick, Don't you?

Ok so we had a crappy game against the Maccs midweek but we still got the win. Qualification to the next round is our only task and we did it. I don't know if you people remember the old days when we lost to teams like Northampton in the cup. Did our managers get booed in them days? I was there and no, they didn't.

Another thing that we need to take into consideration is the fact that we aint got a pot to p*ss in. This transfer window we have spent next to nothing while teams like Manchester City (Jo 18m + Kompany 12m) are breaking transfer records all the time.

Curbishly has in my opinion done an amazing job at West Ham with the resources that he as been given. He saved us from relegation, gave us a top ten finish (which he was aiming for) and now gave us our best start to a season in 9 years. What more can you want from a manager in his position?

Lay off the Curbs, at least wait until 2009 to see how he is progressing.''

by delboy
08:45PM 30th Aug 2008
''Two terms ago we just made it, last term 10th, today 3rd from top. Let's all get a grip on things.

We aint going to be top four but we will be ok. Let the press spout their rubbish, let Match of the Day put us on last, we don't care. Let us get behind the manager and the team ... ''

by Neil
04:23PM 30th Aug 2008
''Now perhaps with a few more results going our way some of the over expectant, unrealistic, inconsiderate, shameful, club fan reputation destroying, tradition breaking, boo boy, let down excuse for West Ham United fans can go and sing their songs at White Hart Lane or some other place where they accurately represent the clubs fanbase.

I'm more fed up with some of our fans than anybody on or off the pitch, pure lack of consideration by so many, inevitably leading to FAR FAR over expecting - we was decimated just three years ago remember.

You are destroying the West Ham we know and love more than anybody, that atmosphere, that passion.

My rant finished prematurely, although only temporarily I'm sure seeing as the minority of foolish fans we have will soon be commenting negatively constantly again very soon I suspect, expecting miracles as they usually do.''

04:09PM 30th Aug 2008
''Great result, great game (apparently). Hats off to Curbs - despite the boo boys and the poorest game last week he's stuck to his guns and delivered a sweet victory against our favorite hate figure Paul Ince!

I'm not getting carried away but if we can play football like that why don't we more often?! Best of all, Spuds are bottom and play Chelsea tomorrow!

Can we finish the season now?''

by Eddy
04:03PM 30th Aug 2008
''Thank the Lord for that!''

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