The Hammers made Florin Raducioiu the scapegoat for a disappointing performance at Sunderland in their previous game, restoring Iain Dowie to the starting line-up. Wimbledon kept the side that had dealt with Everton, with a place on the bench for the unsettled Oyvind Leonhardsen but not for the transfer- listed Dean Holdsworth.
In contrast to their last home game, against Southampton, the West Ham faithful were subdued from the start. Whether it was Slaven Bilic's apparent interest in Tottenham's attempts to lure him away or the fear of defeat by Wimbledon was difficult to tell. A fortnight earlier, Paulo Futre's every move was greeted with a roar. Yesterday there was silence. It was not until Futre limped off clutching his hamstring, to be replaced by the old favourite Tony Cottee, that the fans found their voice.
After a tentative opening half-hour from both teams, Cottee provided a chance for Tim Breacker, but Vinnie Jones did just enough to put him off. Danny Williamson then fed Ilie Dumitrescu in the inside-left position but his shot was well-taken by Neil Sullivan. Neal Ardley replied with a 30-yard shot that had Ludek Miklosko at full stretch.
Joe Kinnear introduced Clarke at the interval in place of Jon Goodman, but it was the words of Kinnear's opposite, Harry Redknapp, that seemed to have had a greater impact at half-time as West Ham resumed with more urgency. A shot by Mark Bowen which flew just over hinted at better things for the home side, but instead it was Wimbledon who broke the deadlock with an hour gone. A clearance by Sullivan was flicked on by Marcus Gayle for Ekoku to chase. He beat Breacker and crossed low for Clarke, and though the substitute scuffed his shot, the ball somehow made its way over the line.
Redknapp threw on John Moncur and Stan Lazaridis in an attempt to revive his side, and Julian Dicks and Moncur went close with fierce drives. But there was still a lack of conviction about West Ham's play, and six minutes from time Ekoku wrapped up the points, turning past Dicks and shooting low and precisely past Miklosko.Reuse content