Football: Problems increase for dismal Hammers

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers 2 West Ham United 1

Harry Redknapp reiterated his belief that his beleaguered side can retain their Premiership status - but the West Ham manager cannot have taken much encouragement from Saturday's dismal show at Ewood Park.

Blackburn raced to a 2-0 lead by half-time and, although the Hammers pulled one back in an improved second-half display, they were fortunate to lose by such a narrow margin.

Kevin Gallacher opened the scoring after 36 minutes with his sixth of the season, a curling right foot drive from 20 yards.

Chris Sutton scored his 10th Premiership goal of the campaign three minutes later with a diving header after a quick free kick by Tim Sherwood.

Sherwood had a `goal' disallowed for offside as Blackburn threatened to run riot with a period of stylish, controlled football and West Ham indebted to the goalkeeping of the veteran, Les Sealey, to prevent Rovers running up a more convincing scoreline.

"We were poor in the first half and kept giving the ball away," Redknapp said. "I could take some consolation from the spirit we showed in the second half and I still believe we'll turn it around. I need to get a few players in and cannot afford to blow all our money on just one signing. We are short of strikers too and we also need to get Iain Dowie fit. He's very important to us. Other results didn't go too badly for us and I'm sure we'll be OK."

The Hammers showed some fighting spirit in the second-half and rallied well enough to grab a goal after 64 minutes, a volley from the substitute, Rio Ferdinand. That sparked a spell of Hammers pressure and Marc Rieper was twice close to equalising with powerful headers.

Blackburn's victory moves them five points clear of West Ham, who are now locked in a tough fight to avoid the drop - as if their off-the-field problems were not enough to keep them occupied.

Goals: Gallacher (36) 1-0; Sutton (39) 2-0; Ferdinand (64) 2-1.

Blackburn Rovers: Flowers; Kenna, Sherwood, Hendry, Le Saux, Gallacher, Sutton, Wilcox (Donis, 66), McKinlay, Berg, Flitcroft. Substitutes not used: Bohinen, Marker, Warhurst, Given (gk).

West Ham United: Sealey; Breacker, Dicks, Williamson, Bishop, Rieper, Rowland (Lazaridis, 69), Newell, Jones (Ferdinand, 45), Hughes, Bilic. Substitutes not used: Bowen, Lampard, Mautone (gk).

Referee: A B Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).

Bookings: Blackburn: McKinlay. West Ham: Rowland.

Man of the match: Sealey.

Attendance: 21,994.

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