Football: Hartson highlights Collymore's failings

West Ham United 2 Aston Villa 1
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The Independent Online
The troubles of Stan Collymore were put into stark perspective at Upton Park by a centre-forward who cost half as much money but has already scored 15 more goals this season.

Collymore has hit the target just once in 17 games since his pounds 7m move to Aston Villa from Liverpool. And the crisis of confidence which the Villa manager, Brian Little, admits is his striker's main problem was clearly shown by two more horrendous misses in this defeat.

Yet at the other end, the Hammers front man, John Hartson, scored two more goals to take his season's tally to 16, confirming him as the Premiership's top scorer.

Harry Redknapp, the West Ham manager, refused to compare the 22-year- old Hartson, signed for pounds 3.5m from Arsenal last season and Collymore. But in truth, there was no comparison - especially given Hartson's energy, commitment and work-rate on top of his strike-rate.

He opened the scoring by gathering David Unsworth's through ball and shrugging off Alan Wright and Ugo Ehiogu to force the ball home.

A brilliant interchange with Savo Milosevic opened the door for Dwight Yorke to equalise for Villa in the 47th minute, but Hartson put West Ham ahead again 60 second later, his deflected 20-yard shot creeping beyond Michael Oakes' dive.

Collymore, who missed the ball just six yards out with the goal at his mercy, had nothing to say about another blank day. Hartson, meanwhile, had let his goals do the talking.

Goals: Hartson (18) 1-0; Yorke (47) 1-1; Harston (48) 2-1.

West Ham United: Miklosko; Breacker, Unsworth, Ferdinand, Pearce, Berkovitch, Lomas, Rowland, Potts, Abou (Paulo Alves, 69), Hartson. Substitutes not used: Forrest (gk), Dowie, Terrier, Mean.

Aston Villa: Oakes; Charles, Wright, Ehiogu, Staunton, Scimeca (Grayson, h-t), Nelson, Draper, Milosevic, Yorke, Collymore. Substitutes not used: Rachel (gk), Joachim, Hendrie, Curcic.

Referee: P Alcock (Redhill).

Booking: West Ham: Hartson.

Man of the match: Hartson.

Attendance: 24,976.