Coca Cola Championship
West Ham United 2 QPR 1

Saturday, 6th November 2004
by Sean Newman

A wonderful finish from Marlon Harewood gave West Ham three vital and well deserved points following the mauling in Wales on Tuesday night.

As I entered the Bobby Moore Lower stadium at 2.30pm I heard the team as announced by Jeremy Nicholas. To my immediate surprise, once again there was no Reo-Coker and Melville - freshly back from injury, or so we were told - was nowhere to be seen either.

I'd predicted a tight 1-1 draw for this one. I expected Bobby and Marlon to start up front but it was Hutchison who started with Marlon, and it was a masterstroke from Pardew. The team was as follows:

Bywater, Mullins, Powell, Repka, Davenport, Fletcher, Lomas, Chadwick, Etherington, Hutchison, Harewood.

The game started brightly for both teams. Harewood had a great opportunity early on, but R’s keeper Chris Day was equal to it. Etherington was failing to impose himself on the game. I feel that Mattie has lost a few yards since last year.

Then came the first crunching tackle of the game. Tomas Repka produced a nasty tackle from behind on Tony Thorpe which resulted on him being substituted for Gareth Ainsworth.

Mid-way through the first half the game swing into typical London derby mode with tackles flying in, especially on a certain Marc Bircham. I was at the Loftus Road encounter and he did himself no favours on that occasion by play-acting any time he got touched. Today was the same for the man with the worst hair style ever, who suffered the wrath of the Hammers faithful and was booed every time he touched the football.

Then came the breakthrough. Luke Chadwick made a promising run down the right, cut inside and was tripped inside the area. From where I was sitting (BML near Dr Martens) it looked a definite penalty. After a bit of handbags debating the spot kick award, Marlon coolly despatched the penalty into the right corner past the despairing dive of Chris Day. The rest of the half was very comfortable with us passing the ball around until the referee had had enough.

The first half was the best half of football that West Ham have played for some time and put me in a great mood, but what got me really warmed up was the Hammerettes, athletically dancing at half time. That always cheers me up ;o)

The second half began with the Hammers on the back foot, as we often are this season when we have 1-0 leads. Once again the tackles were flying in, with the referee always leading his hand towards our goal (signifying a QPR free kick). Bywater made a stunning save from a Gallen half-volley. It may not have been going in but the save was necessary anyway. Hutch and Harewood were working tirelessly up front, which was encapsulated by Harewood charging down a Day clearance (for which he received a standing ovation). Lomas was starting to struggle in the middle of the park with Bircham starting to get a foot hold in the game, but thankfully the excellent Fletcher was always there to mop up the danger.

Then the equaliser came. A long throw from Bircham was flicked on by Shittu and there was substitute McLeod to bundle the goal home in the unguarded goal. Many people would criticise Bywater but I think that it was a well worked goal and could not be prevented. The Hammers fans had to endure a good 10 minutes taunting from the travelling 2,715 fans.

Pardew made a change with Chadwick making way for Zamora. We were piling on the pressure but without really creating the clear cut opportunities. Zamora broke through on the left thanks to a great through ball by Ethers and he had Fletch in the middle on his own but the pass lacked real cutting edge or conviction and the R’s defence were able to clear the ball.

Then Ethers crossed the ball into the middle and it found its way to Hutch. He coolly laid the ball off to Powell whose deflected cross was dummied by not only Fletch but also Zamora - and there was Harewood who struck the ball with such venom that it flashed into the top corner. Upton Park went mad. That could be a turning point in our season.

Ferdinand replaced the excellent Hutch on 87 minutes and we played the rest of the game out well without any worries. To conclude, I think that that was the best West Ham performance that I have seen all season. Players such as Hutch and Fletch really earmarked themselves in the team. As long as we can keep it up and possibly make it seven wins out of seven at home with Brighton and Watford visiting town soon, then a top six - maybe even better - place beckons.

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Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater
Very solid and showed a lot of confidence. Good stop from Gallen but not a lot to do otherwise.

Hayden Mullins
Hayden played well but still is inclined to give the ball away. Was solid against Cook.

Chris Powell
A lot better than his counterpart Brevett, Chris is very solid at the back and even providd an attacking threat.

Tomas Repka
At first I thought that I would be seeing the Tomas Repka of old with that awful tackle on Thorpe but he kept his head despite the abysmal actions of Bircham and played well.

Calum Davenport
How we have missed this man. Hopefully now chaos has began at WHL (snigger) we can keep him for the rest of the season.

Steve Lomas
Good first half, but tired out in the second half when the battles were to be won. Good game but either he or Fletch will be replaced by NRC when he is fit.

Luke Chadwick
A good game, especially in the first half. Always looked to want the ball, and made a great run to gain the penalty.

Carl Fletcher
Best game in a Hammers shirt. Put his foot in when necessary and helped attack and defend well. Excellent.

Matthew Etherington
Delivery was poor from Ethers today but once again he ran tirelessly for the team. Good game.

Don Hutchison
Excellent game for Don. Won all the headers against Shittu and his touch was class. We've missed him; he was a better bet for selection than Zamora, good decision from Pardew.

Marlon Harewood
Superb. Tireless effort and commitment from Marlon who ran his heart out all day. He took his penalty well and his second was a fantastic strike.


Bobby Zamora
(Replaced Chadwick, 75) Nearly set up Harewood but underhit the pass. His clever step-over, however, set up the winner.

Anton Ferdinand
(Replaced Hutchison, 87) Replaced Hutch late on without really having much time to influence proceedings.

Jimmy Walker
Did not play.

Rufus Brevett
Did not play.

Sergei Rebrov
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Stephen Bywater, Hayden Mullins, Chris Powell, Tomas Repka, Calum Davenport, Steve Lomas, Luke Chadwick, Carl Fletcher, Matthew Etherington, Don Hutchison, Marlon Harewood.

Goals: Marlon Harewood 36 Marlon Harewood 84                .

Booked: Tomas Repka 26 Don Hutchison 38 Chris Powell 76      .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

QPR: Day, Rose, Santos, Shittu, Thorpe, Cureton, Bircham, Cook, Simec, Gallen, Furlong.

Subs not used: Bean, Branco.

Goals: McLeod (72).

Booked: Simec (39).

Sent off: None.

Referee: M.Atkinson.

Attendance: 31,365.

Man of the Match: Marlon Harewood.