Battling Blackburn show signs of life

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The Independent Online
West Ham United 2 Blackburn Rovers 1

Whoever succeeds Ray Harford as Blackburn's manager may face a daunting task in keeping the club in the Premiership but, on this evidence, he will have few problems in motivating his charges. Although Saturday's match at Upton Park saw Rovers extend their run to 11 Premiership matches without a win, the players showed there is no lack of commitment at the club.

Five bookings for Rovers were evidence of how they fought to get something from this game and in the end they were unlucky not to have earned at least a point. Tony Parkes, their caretaker manager, had good reason to be pleased with the performance. "We were unlucky not to get something out of the game," he said.

Blackburn took an eighth-minute lead through Henning Berg following a corner and held the advantage until Hugo Porfirio equalised late in the second half, finishing off a sweeping move begun by Julian Dicks. An own goal five minutes from time by Berg was a cruel way for Blackburn to lose the match.

Parkes is filling the caretaker post at Blackburn for the third time. On both previous occasions he applied for the job of manager but this time, he said, he had not put his hat into the ring.

West Ham were disappointing for most of the match, but Harry Redknapp, their manager, could take credit for his second-half gamble, bringing on Paulo Futre to partner the exciting Porfirio in attack. It worked to perfection as the Hammers celebrated their third home win in eight days.

Goals: Berg (9) 0-1; Porfirio (77) 1-1; Berg (own goal, 85) 2-1.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Bowen (Breacker, h-t), Rieper, Bilic, Dicks; Hughes, Bishop, Moncur (Futre, 61), Lazaridis; Porfirio (Lampard, 89), Dowie. Substitutes not used: Dumitrescu, Shilton (gk).

Blackburn Rovers (4-5-1): Flowers; Kenna, Berg, Marker, Le Saux (Croft, 84); Donis (Ripley, 76), Sherwood, McKinlay, Flitcroft, Wilcox; Fenton. Substitutes not used: Bohinen, Broomes, Given (gk).

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).

Bookings: Blackburn: Flowers, Le Saux, Sherwood, Fenton, McKinlay.

Man of the match: Berg.

Attendance: 23, 947.