Collymore unable to make his mark

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The Independent Online
Football

MIKE ROWBOTTOM

West Ham United 0 Liverpool 0

Two sides went nowhere fast at Upton Park last night, although none of the 24,324 spectators present complained. The action was unrelenting and entertaining, but Liverpool, discomfited perhaps by the weekend's Merseyside defeat, were like eloquent speakers who failed to complete a sentence. West Ham, striving for a voice, fluffed the few lines they were given.

"I think Liverpool passed as well as I've seen them do," said Harry Redknapp, the West Ham manager. Thankfully for his side, the visitors could not attain anything like the same level when it came to scoring.

With Ian Rush likely to be absent a further month with a cartilage injury, his replacement, Stan Collymore, laboured diligently, but looks short of match sharpness. Perhaps an extended run will revive the fortunes of a side which has now taken just one point out of the last nine.

No small part of the credit for stifling Collymore fell to West Ham's 37-year-old defender, Alvin Martin. "We got two points from six games before Alvin came in for us," Redknapp said. "Since then we've got 15 from eight. That tells you something."

The home side took to the field buoyed by Saturday's 3-1 win at Bolton and eager to record only their second home win, following their defeat of Everton in September.

They began brightly enough, but in a lively opening period it was Liverpool - and notably Collymore - who made the most impact. He might conceivably have had a hat-trick in the first quarter of an hour. Liverpool began to assume such control that when Robbie Fowler skewed the ball into touch after 25 minutes a huge sigh of relief went round the ground.

On the half-hour, the visitors went more seriously awry as David James, their 6ft 5in goalkeeper, raced out of his box to clear the ball and ended up sending West Ham's Keith Rowland flying to the ground instead. James was lucky to escape with a booking.

The incident seemed to rattle Liverpool, Steve Potts nearly scoring with a shot from 35 yards. Ian Bishop tried soon after from similar range and saw his deflected drive pass narrowly over the bar.

Liverpool should have converted their superiority on the hour as, after another smooth transfer of the ball, they found Collymore as the spare man on the right. He should have done better than blasting the ball wide.

For all the valiant efforts of Danny Williamson in midfield, it looked as if West Ham needed a stroke of luck to score. They nearly had it after 65 minutes, when Iain Dowie got a leg to Rowland's cross and the ball flew dangerously close.

When Steve McManaman tried to dribble through the entire home defence 10 minutes from time, there was more than a touch of desperation about his efforts.

West Ham United (3-5-2): Miklosko; Potts, Martin, Rieper; Parkes, Bishop, Hughes, Williamson, Rowland; Dowie, Cottee. Substitutes not used: Breacker, Slater, Sealey (gk).

Liverpool (3-5-2): James; Wright, Ruddock, Babb; Jones, McManaman, McAteer, Barnes, Harkness; Fowler, Collymore. Substitutes not used: Thomas, Warner, Kennedy.

Referee: J Winter (Cleveland).

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