Football: Hammers suffer Duff day

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The Independent Online
With Chris Sutton suspended and Martin Dahlin still recovering from back injury, Blackburn Rovers relied on Damien Duff to partner Kevin Gallacher in attack for the visit of West Ham United to Ewood Park. The youngster repaid them handsomely by tormenting the Hammers defence throughout and scoring twice in a 3-0 win which lifted Rovers to within a point of the Premiership leaders Manchester United, who play Newcastle United at St James' Park this afternoon.

West Ham's miserable afternoon began in the 22nd minute. Gerald Ashby, the referee, gave Rovers an indirect free-kick inside the Hammers' penalty area when Rio Ferdinand obstructed Duff. The young striker touched the dead ball to Tim Sherwood who crossed for Stuart Ripley to head in from eight yards.

Duff was presented with Rovers' second six minutes after the restart by West Ham's Andy Impey, whose misdirected backheader landed at the youngster's feet. Seven minutes later yet another miserable West Ham awayday - they have lost 9 out of 11 on their travels - was made complete when Steve Lomas was sent off for dissent. A Ripley cross 18 minutes from time set up Duff's second.

David Jones, the Southampton manager, was able to field the same starting line-up for the ninth consecutive game for the away match against Aston Villa and they came away with a deserved point.

The Saints, who had previously picked up only three points out of 24 from their away games, started brightly but couldn't capitalise and 10 minutes before half-time had to send on Egil Ostenstad for Kevin Davies, who seemed to be struggling with an injury.

Villa still went closest to scoring in the first half. Claus Lundekvam missed a long through ball and Savo Milosevic went round Paul Jones in the Saints goal but the tall defender made amends, racing back to clear off the line.

Southampton's reprieve lasted 19 minutes into the second half. Mark Draper supplied Ian Taylor on the edge of the Saints box and the midfielder controlled and volleyed in with two swift touches. But Villa were ahead for only eight minutes, Ostenstad getting the visitor's deserved equaliser.

Leeds United stretched their unbeaten run to seven matches with a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers at Elland Road. It seemed that the Leeds players had learned little from their ill- disciplined battle of Stamford Bridge on the previous Saturday. In a wretched first half, the Republic of Ireland full-back Gary Kelly and Bolton's Jamie Pollock squared up, David Hopkin reacted to a Scott Sellars tackle, and the referee, Alan Wilkie, delivered several stern lectures.

But Leeds eventually broke Bolton's resolve when Bruno Ribeiro's 25-yard shot dipped under the cross bar and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink wrapped it up with two minutes left.

At Pride Park, visitors Crystal Palace, without their two injured Italian imports, Attilio Lombardo and Michele Padovano, held out for a share of the spoils against Derby County in a goalless draw.

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