Football: West Ham betrayed by Rieper

West Ham United 0 Nottingham Forest 1
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The Independent Online
Life may be fraught with uncertainty for Forest's caretaker player-manager, Stuart Pearce, but, in the freezing environs of Upton Park yesterday, his side gathered something definite and warming.

A precious away win lifted them off the bottom of the table and gave Pearce a reason to be cheerful as he looks forward to next week's meeting with the club chairman, when the decision will be made about whether he stays on in his position. Having gained seven points from four games since he took over from Frank Clark, Pearce's right to continue cannot seriously be questioned.

The England full-back, who has confessed that he finds the responsibilities of his new task something of a strain, has not let the anxiety seep into his game. On an afternoon when the wind-chill factor questioned the commitment of every player - not to mention spectator - Pearce was a model of commitment and his attitude transmitted itself to his team as they held on to the advantage Kevin Campbell earned for them after 39 minutes.

The Forest striker profited from a mistake by West Ham's Danish central defender Marc Rieper, who inexplicably failed to direct a long, hopeful punt upfield by the visitors' defender Colin Cooper back to his keeper. Apparently under the impression that Ludek Miklosko was coming to collect the ball, Rieper left it and Campbell took the opportunity of lobbing home.

West Ham's manager, Harry Redknapp, was downcast after a performance which saw his side booed off the pitch and left just four points clear of the relegation area. "We gave a goal away that you wouldn't see on a Sunday morning," he said. "It was horrendous. After that everyone becomes edgier and edgier. It was a poor performance all round."

Redknapp, with characteristic honesty, took his share of responsibility for the result, admitting that his decision to keep the Romanian striker Florian Raducioiu - the 90th- minute scorer as a substitute on Saturday - in the starting line-up at the expense of midfielder John Moncur had not worked. "He's not had a good day but nor have one or two of the others."

The West Ham manager appears to be losing patience with Raducioiu and his other foreign forward, Hugo Porfirio, who was ineffectual throughout. He picked out his 64th-minute substitute Steve Jones as the best performer among the forwards. "He could be a big factor for us now," Redknapp said. "He's honest, he works hard and he can nick a goal."

Jones's efforts notwithstanding, West Ham failed to create a single clear chance.

Half-time saw an attempt on the unofficial world record for bubble blowing. If the Guinness Book of Records accepts the dutiful efforts of the 22,358 spectators it will stand as West Ham's only achievement of the afternoon.

West Ham United (3-5-2): Miklosko; Dicks, Bilic, Rieper; Bowen (Potts, 25), Porfirio, Bishop (Lampard, 79), Williamson, Hughes; Newell (Jones, 64), Raducioiu. Substitutes not used: Moncur, Sealey (gk).

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Crossley; Lyttle, Blatherwick (Phillips, 18), Chettle, Pearce; Clough, Haaland, Cooper, Woan; Saunders, Campbell (Gemmill, 63). Substitutes not used: Allen, Roy, Fettis (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset).