Football: Hartson heartens

West Ham United 6 Lampard 5, Abou 31, 52, Moncur 57, Hartson 67, Lazaridis 90 Barnsley 0 Attendance: 23,714
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The Independent Online
WHATEVER illusions Barnsley may have harboured that they can survive in the Premiership must have been well and truly laid to rest yesterday. "The pundits may be right and we will be relegated," their manager, Danny Wilson, admitted afterwards, and it would be hard to argue against this judgement on the evidence of his side's performance.

It took the Hammers only a couple of minutes to shake off whatever hangover they may have had from their midweek Coca-Cola Cup defeat as Frank Lampard flicked David Unsworth's cross beyond Dave Watson. The Barnsley goalkeeper must have known then that he was in for a hectic afternoon, but his save of Andy Impey's 20-yard volley was of the highest class.

The goalkeeper again was blameless when John Hartson created the chance for Samassi Abou to poke home the second in the 20th minute. Georgi Hristov gave the visitors some hope when his 30th-minute header rebounded off Craig Forrest's legs and again in the 47th minute, when his snapshot was parried by the West Ham goalkeeper at his near post. But that was the end of any Barnsley hopes.

Six minutes later, Hartson again did the right thing by Abou who smacked home the Hammers' third and, in the 58th minute, Abou repeated the favour for the substitute John Moncur who struck the fourth from the edge of the penalty box.

Hartson, who had led his line superbly, ended his own scoring drought in the 67th minute when Abou's impertinent back-heel gave him a clear sight of goal and he fired home with confidence. Right on the final whistle, the Welshman completed a fine performance when he set up Stan Lazaridis for West Ham's sixth.

Danny Wilson was scathing about the lack of commitment he felt his charges had shown in what he described as their worst performance yet. He could make exceptions of Watson, the wing-back Darren Barnard and the striker Ashley Ward who struggled gamely to stem the tide, but the strength and skill of Hartson, Abou and Eyal Berkovic only underlined what the Yorkshire side were lacking. Until they find players of that class their stay among the big boys will be short and not very sweet.

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