Coca Cola Championship
Sheffield United 1 West Ham United 2

Saturday, 11th September 2004
by Richard Osborne

Not knowing the lineup until the players trotted out was a bit of a thrill seeing as we had made four signings since we last played.

Pards (amazingly) kept faith in Bywater; it remains to be seen if he does for Rotherham.

Marlon contrived the miss of the season in the opening seconds of the game. A mazy run by Mattie ended with him crossing the ball which slipped below Paddy Kenny and seemed to go between Marlon's legs in front of an empty net. However he made up for his glaring miss with a peach of a right-footed strike across the keeper into the top left of the goal after just nine minutes.

First half we dominated with aplomb. Davenport looks to be the best defender by a country mile to don the claret and blue since Rio. He won everything in the air, everything on the ground, made some great clearances and showed electric pace; the boy is massive. Make no mistake, if we can keep him all season and Sherry doesn't get crocked, we will be going up.

New boy Carl Fletcher was also amazing. From the off he was first to every header, won every tackle, brought the ball down and passed it well. The respect he was getting from his new team mates spoke volumes. He faded somewhat in the second half, but then the tempo was up all game. Once his fitness levels are up to scratch he will be a real dynamo; both midfields were in no doubt who was in charge.

In the second half Sheffield United pushed forward in search of an equaliser but we looked comfortable. Repka looked solid (helped massively by Davenport), Mullins - although giving the ball away a few times - more often than not found the challenge and his man.

The Blades eventually found the net on 65 minutes after a looping free-kick which went in Ronaldinho-esque over the floundering Bywater. Gutted to throw the lead away yet again, but we battled bravely on. Nowland - who looked very composed when he initially came on - replaced the flagging Chadwick. However his promising start lasted for roughly five minutes after which he decided to give every pass to an opponent.

Marlon was replaced on 75 minutes by Rebrov who, despite looking industrious, is yet to have a shot at goal. I am convinced that when he does the groundsmen will be looking for a new net.

Our winner came with just five minutes of normal time remaining. Teddy sent a freekick spinning towards the goal. The ball seemed to take 45 minutes to bend its way round the wall and headed towards the centre of the goal. West Ham shirts dived out of the way, craning their necks just in time to see Paddy Kenny wrong-footed and beaten.

A great result from an enjoyable game. Hats off to the new boys.

Ref watch - Alan Wiley

Had a great first half. 50-50's met with waving on and advantage played. Second half it was stop start, even Sheffield United were cheesed off with it. We thought he was a homer ref, they thought he was ours; says it all really. 6/10.

Manager watch - Alan Pardew

Well played for making what I thought were the right substitutions at the right time. Started with a could of noobs and to his credit they did the biz. Hopefully Malky can work alongside Davenport to make our defence invincible. 7 out of 10.

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Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater
Enough is enough. The boy looked like a rabbit caught in headlights. Maybe Bramall Lane is a bogey ground for him; who can forget his full debut there last year. He won't come off his line and he won't use his gob. Walker in!

Tomas Repka
Made the most ridiculous back pass to a feeble Bywater. It was lobbed to him against the wind from 20 yards out. The hapless Bywater struggled understandably with the ball and conceded a corner.

Rufus Brevett
Dirty, slow, mouthy, won't get forward. He's had his chance; get Cohen in when he is back and stick Powell on in the meantime.

Hayden Mullins
An assured performance, dealt wit his man very well. He and Repka kept their left hand side down to a few chances and dealt with them very well.

Calum Davenport
Man of the match: In a word, WOW! If we can keep him for the season, we are going up, no question. He is big enough to poke his head over other player's shoulders and win challenges that most defenders would struggle with. Wish he was ours.

Carl Fletcher
Missed Man of the Match by a whisker. The whisker being the last 20 minutes where his fitness levels showed. Won everything, made every pass. Michael Who?

Nigel Reo-Coker
Ever present, ever brilliant. A definite contender for Hammer of the Year so far.

Luke Chadwick
Industrious in the first, flagged in the second.

Matthew Etherington
Looked puffed out after five minutes, still not convinced he is fully recovered from injury. Ever lively, ever exciting. Was crowded out today though.

Teddy Sheringham
Our Boudicia for the Premiership challenge. At flicks, making goals and scoring them, there is no finer player in this division at the moment. Please stay fit Teddy.

Marlon Harewood
Ran his lungs out. Caught offside aplenty. Would have been a 7, but for the sitter in the first half.


Adam Nowland
(Replaced Chadwick, 63) Came on for Chadders to shore up the midfield and push on. Gave the ball away more often than not. Oh and he struts too much for my liking ;)

Sergei Rebrov
(Replaced Harewood, 75) Didn't do much wrong, didn't have any chances to note. Gets knocked off the ball easily, but as I said stick him in front of goal with a clear shot and our jaws will drop.

Malky Mackay
(Replaced Mullins, 87) Came on for Mullins, but to be honest I was already fleeing towards the station.

Jimmy Walker
Did not play.

Chris Powell
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Stephen Bywater, Tomas Repka, Rufus Brevett, Hayden Mullins, Calum Davenport, Carl Fletcher, Nigel Reo-Coker, Luke Chadwick, Matthew Etherington, Teddy Sheringham, Marlon Harewood.

Goals: Marlon Harewood 9 Teddy Sheringham 85                .

Booked: Nigel Reo-Coker 32 Carl Fletcher 52        .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Sheffield United: Kenny, Bromby, Morgan, Jagielka, Wright, Quinn, Thirlwell, Tonge, Harley, Ward, Gray.

Subs not used: Montgomery, Forte, McCall, Sharp.

Goals: Quinn (65).

Booked: Ward, Harley.

Sent off: None.

Referee: A.Wiley.

Attendance: 21,058.

Man of the Match: Calum Davenport.