Football: Hartson the Huddersfield heartbreaker

West Ham United 3 Huddersfield Town 0 West Ham win 3-1 on aggregate
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The Independent Online
John Hartson scored his first hat-trick at senior level last night as West Ham comprehensively beat Huddersfield in their second round Coca- Cola Cup tie to earn a third-round meeting at home to Aston Villa.

The 22-year-old striker, bought by Harry Redknapp for pounds 3.2m at the end of last season, has now scored eight times this season and is looking considerable value for money.

"If it had been Saturday and I'd been fresh I'd have got a couple more, but I'll settle for three," Hartson said. Harry Redknapp was justifiably pleased with both his striker and the performance of the team. "We really carved them apart and it was a good follow-on from Saturday," He said.

Having beaten Liverpool 2-1 at the weekend, Redknapp confidently retained the same starting line- up for last night's game. But with last season's Cup defeats to Stockport and Wrexham still on his mind, and with Huddersfield starting the game with a 1-0 advantage, the Hammers' manager did not start the game with the confidence he finished it.

Redknapp need not have worried. Huddersfield put up little resistance and for most of the match it was easy to see why they are languishing at the bottom of the First Division.

For a short period at the start of the game, as West Ham settled and Huddersfield seemed unsure whether to play offensively or try to sit on their lead, there was little creative play from either side. However, after 15 minutes, West Ham began to step up a gear and never looked in trouble.

With Eyal Berkovitch industrious in midfield and recent signing Andy Impey making constant forays up the left wing, the Hammers quickly became dominant.

The breakthrough came after half an hour when a Huddersfield error let the ball slip to Berkovitch around the half-way line. He ran a third of the length of the pitch before passing into the path of Hartson, who eased through the Huddersfield defence and scored. Hartson added a second just before half-time, and again the move originated with Berkovitch. The Israeli set Impey free on the left of the area, Impey crossed, and Hartson scored with a low drive that Huddersfield goalkeeper Steve Francis should really have saved.

The hat-trick was completed 20 minutes from the end when again Berkovitch and Impey combined to feed Hartson on the left edge of the box. He drew two defenders then scored his third with another low drive.

West Ham United (3-5-2): Miklosko; Unsworth, Ferdinand, Pearce; Breacker, Berkovitch, Lampard, Lomas, Impey (Potts, 73); Dowie, Hartson. Substitutes not used: Forrest (gk), Bishop.

Huddersfield Town (4-3-3): Francis; Jenkins, Edmondson, Morrison, Collins; Gray, Edwards (Lawson, 61), Makel (Burnett, 53); Stewart, Payton, Dyer. Substitute not used: O'Connor.

Referee: M Bodenham (Looe).

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