Football: Hammers turn the tables

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon. .1

Holdsworth 82

West Ham United. .2

Chapman 45, 79

Attendance: 10,903

ON a day made for stereotyping and caricature - Beauty and the Beasts, the Fash Street Kids, that sort of thing - all was not as it seemed. Just before half-time, a flowing four- man, one-touch move finished with a header flashing wide of the post - West Ham's post.

Just before half time, another cross towards the Position of Maximum Opportunity saw a big striker heading his team in front: the East End Academy celebrated wildly, just as they did 11 minutes from time, when their goalkeeper, Ludo Miklosko, launched a route-one attack with one of his huge clearances that Trevor Morley touched on for Lee Chapman to claim his second goal of the day.

Roles have not, of course, been completely reversed. West Ham, as they demonstrated superbly at Southampton last Monday, and intermittently yesterday, still base their game on passing and moving, refusing to be bound by Charles Hughes' statistical dogma. More power to their elbow, if Mr Fashanu will pardon the expression.

He was missing with a dead leg, which, according to Wimbldon's manager, Joe Kinnear, left them 'a shadow of the team that played mid-week at Liverpool' - where they were applauded for the quality of their football as much as the famed Crazy Gang commitment. In his absence, Robbie Earle, Andy Clarke and Dean Holdsworth strove but found West Ham's new defensive miserliness another change in the natural order of things.

A home defeat by Wimbledon on the first day of the season had suggested this was not going to be a glorious return to the top division, and one victory in six subsequent games only confirmed that impression. It was then that Billy Bonds made the inspired decision to sell his most highly valued player, Julian Dicks, strengthening the team overall and banking pounds 1m.

Although David Burrows and Mike Marsh have played their part in the irresistible rise since then, bringing Chapman back to the Premiership from Portsmouth was the master stroke. An old-fashioned 'leader of the line' always likely to score a goal like the 45th- minute header from Tim Breacker's cross, he is still composed enough to side-foot one like yesterday's second, which Holdsworth's scrambled effort was too late to negate.

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