Football: No happy end to week of misery for Redknapp

West Ham United 0 Sheffield Wednesday 4
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The Independent Online
THE STADIUM announcer made a brave effort to rally the faithful at half-time, but in the end, the muted atmosphere around Upton Park spoke volumes of a traumatic week suffered by West Ham United and their supporters. Beaten heavily at Old Trafford and knocked out of the FA Cup by Swansea City before selling John Hartson to Wimbledon, Harry Redknapp's side were taken to pieces by Sheffield Wednesday, who combined sturdy defence and imaginative counter-attacking to stunning effect.

Redknapp, shrugging off the defeat as "one of those days", was quick to point out that his side are still well-placed to challenge for a Uefa Cup place. "A lot of people would love to be in our position," he said, which is true, but a new striker and midfielder are urgent priorities for Redknapp if he is to keep his side there.

On Saturday the makeshift front line of Trevor Sinclair and Samassi Abou posed few problems to a defence well marshalled by Peter Atherton and Des Walker.

"This was a massive performance for us," the Wednesday manager, Danny Wilson, said, after watching his side win away for the first time since beating Tottenham 3-0 in August. "What pleased me as much as anything was the way we defended after half-time. We organised ourselves well and they couldn't get through us at all."

By that stage, Wednesday were already two goals to the good and coasting, a position for which they owed much to their rejuvenated forward, Benito Carbone, who gave West Ham's new pounds 1m left-back, Scott Minto, a torrid time on his debut. Comfortably the game's outstanding player, the Italian had a hand in the first three goals and scored the fourth from the spot, having been felled by Ian Pearce in the area.

Carbone might have put Wednesday ahead in the eighth minute, his shot from the edge of the area forcing Shaka Hislop into a flying save, but he made amends after 24 minutes by feeding the ball to Andy Hinchcliffe, whose low shot from the left found its way beneath Hislop's body and over the line.

Six minutes later, the visitors doubled their lead. Carbone found Wim Jonk in a central position and the Dutch international split the West Ham defence with a clever one-touch pass, leaving Petter Rudi well-placed to drive the ball beyond Hislop.

Redknapp raised the biggest cheer of the afternoon just before half- time, replacing Neil Ruddock with Joe Cole, but the prodigy could offer little assistance to a side which looked even less at ease after the break, and it was no surprise when Wednesday added a third goal on 68 minutes.

Carbone again was the provider, crossing low to the near post and finding the unmarked Niclas Alexandersson, who diverted the ball across goal for Ritchie Humphreys to score from close range.

Carbone's penalty was to follow four minutes later, and although the substitute Paul Kitson's thumping volley found the net for West Ham in injury time, his side's miserable afternoon was concluded when the effort was disallowed for offside.

Goals: Hinchcliffe (24) 0-1; Rudi (30) 0-2; Humphreys (68) 0-3; Carbone pen (72) 0-4.

West Ham United (5-3-2): Hislop; Keller, Ruddock (Cole, 40), Ferdinand, Pearce, Minto; Berkovic (Kitson, 64), Lomas, Lampard; Abou, Sinclair. Substitutes not used: Lazaridis, Potts, Forrest (gk).

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Srnicek; Atherton, Walker, Thome, Hinchcliffe (Briscoe, 76); Jonk, Sonner, Rudi, Alexandersson; Carbone, Humphreys. Substitutes not used: Newsome, Whittingham, Agogo, Pressman (gk).

Referee: K Burge (Glamorgan).

Bookings: West Ham: Cole, Keller, Pearce. Sheffield Wednesday: Sonner.

Man of the match: Carbone.

Attendance: 25,642.

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