Football: West Ham make the breakthrough

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The Independent Online
West Ham United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Manchester City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

AFTER Sterile Sunday, a Manic Monday for the Premiership's satellite sponsors, and especially for West Ham who last night resembled nothing like the team who had struggled to find the net on their return to the big league, mining a rich seam of form and scoring to record a resounding victory.

Three goals in 69 minutes was half as many as they had amassed in their first 12 League games and they inflicted on City only the second defeat of Brian Horton's regime. In fact, until Keith Curle's late penalty following a trip on their new signing Carl Griffiths, it was a scoreline of humiliating proportions for Horton and was threatening to undo all the sound, if slow, progress he had achieved at what is a club in conflict.

There were no worries on that score for West Ham, who have emerged stronger from their period of inner turmoil a year ago and on this evidence have the belief and the balance now to look beyond mere survival among the top company.

After the Coventry v Sheffield United spectacle that wasn't, TV desperately needed something early on to focus and grab the attention and it came within three minutes with the home side's first attack. Lee Chapman went off on the prowl and his bustling presence so unnerved Curle and Tony Coton that, momentarily, they forgot their back- pass discipline and conceded a free-kick.

City brought all 11 back but it was not enough as Ian Bishop provided the pass for David Burrows to blast a hole in the defensive wall. 'Conceding a goal like that knocks you out of your stride,' Horton admitted. 'Our fight has carried us through since I arrived but tonight we were second rate.'

With the early breakthrough came the means for the Hammers, hitherto the lowest scorers in all four divisions, to knock the ball around in style. At the back Alvin Martin, making his Premiership debut at 35, was true grit personified and helped prevent any comeback. Goal No 2 was a peach, Mike Marsh floating a cross to the far post where Chapman climbed highest to score.

City then threatened briefly through Garry Flitcroft and Mike Sheron, but where the luck was with Ludek Miklosko in seeing Sheron's swerving shot bounce to safety, it deserted Coton when Matt Holmes's effort took a wicked deflection for West Ham's third.

'It was a big result for us and I enjoyed watching it,' was the summing-up of their delighted manager, Billy Bonds. It puts them in good shape to visit Liverpool at the weekend while City have the minor matter of the Manchester derby.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Breacker, Potts, Martin, Burrows; Butler, Bishop, Marsh, Holmes (Rowland, 85); Morley, Chapman. Substitutes not used: Jones, Peyton (gk).

Manchester City (4-3-3): Coton; Edghill, Kernaghan, Curle, Phelan; Lomas (Griffiths, 62), McMahon, Flitcroft; Sheron (Vonk, 62), Quinn, White. Substitute not used: Dibble (gk).

Referee: K Morton (Bury St Edmunds).

Joe Lovejoy on the game's middlemen, page 38

(Photograph omitted)

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