FA Premiership
West Ham United 1 Chelsea 3

Monday, 2nd January 2006
by Graeme Howlett

A spirited performance failed to prevent the Hammers slipping to their fourth consecutive Premiership home defeat.

Alan Pardew's injury-ravaged side failed to stop Chelsea's relentless march towards the title at the Boleyn this afternoon as they went down 3-1.

In truth, the result was a fair one - although the Hammers can be reasonably satisfied with their efforts against one of the best club sides on the planet.

Former Hammer Frank Lampard opened the scoring for the visitors on 25 minutes following a mistake by Yossi Benayoun, whose fumbled headed clearance fell into the path of the World Player of the Year runner up; Lampard finishing cooly from some 10 yards to Roy Carroll's left.

The rest of the goals came after the break; the Hammers scoring the first through Marlon Harewood after just 21 seconds of the second period.

The West Ham number 10 levelled the scores following a clever one-two with Nigel Reo-Coker; despite Petr Cech saving his initial effort, Harewood followed through to see the ball over the line. It was the striker's ninth goal of the season, and just the fourth that Chelsea had conceded away from home in the current campaign.

Harewood's goal seemed to give the visitors added impetus, and it was no surprise when they regained the lead on the hour mark.

Substitute Hernan Crespo - who had been on the field for less than a minute after replacing Damien Duff - rounded Roy Carroll to finish into an empty net after Carl Fletcher lost the ball on the edge of the penalty box.

And Chelsea confirmed all three points when Didier Drogba - who had had a quiet afternoon - smashed home a third from wide of Roy Carroll's goal with just 10 minutes left on the clock, with Paul Konchesky flagging.

The result - however unsurprising - leaves the Hammers looking nervously behind them with only nine points now seperating Alan Pardew's men from the relegation slots, despite the Hammers remaining in the top half of the table.

Next up are Norwich in the FA Cup next weekend, which should give Pardew enough time to see most of his injured players return in in time for the next Premiership outing - at Aston Villa in a fortnight's time.

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Player Ratings

Roy Carroll
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Christian Dailly
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Paul Konchesky
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James Collins
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Anton Ferdinand
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Hayden Mullins
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Nigel Reo-Coker
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Yossi Benayoun
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Matthew Etherington
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Carl Fletcher
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Marlon Harewood
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Bobby Zamora
(Replaced Mullins, 71) Comments to follow.

David Bellion
(Replaced Etherington, 78) Comments to follow.

Shaka Hislop
Did not play.

Clive Clarke
Did not play.

Jeremie Aliadiere
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Roy Carroll, Christian Dailly, Paul Konchesky, James Collins, Anton Ferdinand, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Matthew Etherington, Carl Fletcher, Marlon Harewood.

Goals: Marlon Harewood 46                  .

Booked: Carl Fletcher 20          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Chelsea: Cech, Geremi, Carvalho, Terry, Del Horno, Duff, Essien, Lampard, Makelele, Robben, Drogba.

Subs not used: Cudicini, Johnson.

Goals: Lampard (25), Crespo (61), Drogba (80).

Booked: Duff, Gudjohnsen, Lampard.

Sent off: None.

Referee: H.Webb.

Attendance: 34,758.

Man of the Match: tbc.