West Ham United 3 Birmingham City 0
Monday, 13th February 2006
by Graeme Howlett
West Ham are in the hunt for a European spot following a 3-0 win over Birmingham City at The Boleyn tonight.The Hammers recorded a SEVENTH consecutive win to lift them into sixth spot in the Premiership, where they remain behind Arsenal in fifth spot on goal difference.
The night began in sombre mood as Trevor Brooking, flanked by several former Hammers, gave a short speech in memory of former West Ham and England manager Ron Greenwood who died last week. The minutes' silence which duly followed was observed impeccably.
The Hammers appeared determined to get a result in honour of Ron, and it took only ten minutes for Marlon Harewood to open the scoring. A misunderstanding in the Birmingham back line allowed Harewood to notch with a well taken drive from no more than 12 yards.
Some of West Ham's football thereafter was a delight to watch and would no doubt have has Mr Greenwood smiling, but it wasn't until 17 minutes of the second period had been played that Harewood doubled his and West Ham's tally.
Martin Latka was adjudged to have hand-balled in the box, but Harewood saw his spot kick pushed aside by Maik Taylor. Fortunately for the Hammers the number 10 was quickest to react and he turned the rebound into an empty net.
Just three minutes later West Ham added a third when Dean Ashton nodded home a Lionel Scaloni cross which had been touched on at the near post by Yossi Benayoun. It was the former Norwich man's second goal for the Hammers; two easier he is not likely to score again in his career.
As the game petered out the Hammers fans took great delight in ramming Steve Bruce's 2003 comments concerning West Ham's relegation firmly back down his throat; the beleagured City boss, who was said to have had a pre-match row with midfielder Nicky Butt sat grim faced as the Hammers taunted him with chants of 'going down'.
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Player RatingsShaka Hislop
Only had one save of note to make but a second consecutive clean sheet at home will have done wonders for his confidence.
Beginning to gel with the rest of his team mates - and the delivery for the third goal was sublime. Caught out of position once or twice but is showing all the hallmarks of being more than a competent replacement for Tomas Repka.
It was a good night for the full-back who made full use of the space on the left flank. A couple of wayward passes were about all he could be faulted for.
Another competent performance from Ferdinand who started the game by picking up his recent Premiership award as January's Player of the Month.
Quite simply didn't put a foot wrong and had Chris Sutton in his pocket all night.
Another solid performance despite being withdrawn at the break after suffering sore ribs after a first half challenge. One or two sublime passes were his main points of note.
Once again the England hopeful gave 100% and added another impressive effort to his blossoming portfolio. Despite the occasional errant pass he was a constant thorn in the side of Birmingham's midfield.
Although he is not quite as proficient on the flank as when tucked in behind the strikers, the little Israeli caused Birmingham plenty of problems.
Used as the main outlet for West Ham's forays into opposition territory, it was another bustling energetic performance from the tricky winger.
Two more goals to his tally and another impressive effort. He seems to be full of confidence at the moment and desperate to prove he is worthy of retaining his first-team spot.
West Ham had suffered by not having a big target man prior to Ashton's arrival; his performance tonight - although not outstanding - showed what a difference he makes. Another trademark poachers goal gives him the impressive stat of two goals from just two starts.
(Replaced Mullins, 45) A solid performance from Dailly despite an apparent preference for passing the ball backwards.
(Replaced Etherington, 78) Rarely involved after his arrival as a late substitute.
(Replaced Ashton, 78) Put himself about after coming on for the final 15 minutes although failed to make any great impression on the game.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Shaka Hislop, Lionel Scaloni, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Matthew Etherington, Marlon Harewood, Dean Ashton.
Goals: Marlon Harewood 10 Marlon Harewood 62 Dean Ashton 65 .
Booked: None booked. .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Birmingham City: Taylor; Melchiot, Cunningham, Bruce, Gray; Latka, Jarosik, Clemence, Pennant; Sutton, Forssell.
Subs not used: Vaesen, Birley.
Booked: Latka, Bruce.
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: Danny Gabbidon.