Football: West Ham see red as Wright strikes

West Ham United 1 Arsenal 2

The players and officials of West Ham and Arsenal were imprisoned in Upton Park last night as West Ham fans vented their anger at the club's board of directors.

The supporters did a better job at stopping Arsenal than West Ham's defence, which had earlier allowed the visitors a comfortable passage to second place in the Premiership table. West Ham, despite the gift of a own goal - the Hammers' first in nearly six hours of Premiership play - remain rooted the the bottom three.

It is that position, and the apparent refusal of the board to consider an offer of investment from the bookmaking tycoon Michael Tabor, which has created the atmosphere of protest.

During the match it was expressed in a half-time protest in which thousands of supporters showed red cards printed with the words "it's good to talk", in reference to the board's refusal to talk to Tabor.

The protest intensified after goals from Ray Parlour, after seven minutes, and Ian Wright, after 67, had beaten West Ham. Their goal came from the unfortunate Matthew Rose 64 minutes into his first game of the season.

More than 1,000 fans waited to express their anger long after the final whistle. Two of them ran on to the pitch, a concern to West Ham who already have two incursions under Football Association scrutiny.

As "Sack the board" and "Brown out" (the chairman is Terry Brown) rang round the ground, Harry Redknapp, the club's manager, was telling the media: "The fans were marvellous tonight; they got behind the team. It is no good giving the players stick, they can make their feelings known after the game."

Which they promptly did. Well over an hour after the final whistle the entrance to the Boleyn Ground was being protected by a wall of yellow- jacketed policeman as fans besieged the club. Eventually mounted police cleared the way to Arsenal's coach so the team could escape. Protests continued in the streets around the ground and traffic was diverted.

At the heart of the discontent is West Ham's failure to match the signings of clubs such as Arsenal and Chelsea. Thus the on-pitch tableaux before the game was cruelly ironic. A table and several chairs sat on the grass. A new signing, perhaps? Had Pierre van Hooijdonk, Daniele Dichio, Paul Kitson or Mike Sheron - all transfer targets of the club - actually been signed? No, it was a teenager signing trainee forms.

When West Ham's adult players emerged it was with Mike Newell as the lone forward, a striker so far past his best that First Division Birmingham, from whom he is on loan, do not require his services.

Arsenal have so many forward options they could afford to leave John Hartson on the bench despite Dennis Bergkamp being suspended. It gave Paul Merson, watched by John Gorman, England manager Glenn Hoddle's assistant, the opportunity to flourish in a forward role. He took it with aplomb, providing both goals and hitting the bar with an exquisite chip.

West Ham's flimsy defensive cover had already been exposed by the impressive Stephen Hughes, making his first League start, before Merson, released by Patrick Vieira, drove through to set up Parlour.

The first sighting of a West Ham player in the Arsenal penalty box came two minutes later, Hugo Porfirio drifting in. But it was another 20 minutes before David Seaman had a shot to save, a tame 25-yard drive from Danny Williamson.

After Merson had both hit the bar and brought a fine save from Miklosko, West Ham finally went close themselves. Porfirio dribbled into the box before finding Newell and his first-time shot brought an instinctive, one-handed save from Seaman.

Their players raised their efforts in the second half, but it always looked as if Arsenal had something in reserve. So it proved. When West Ham scored, Rose misdirecting Slaven Bilic's header past Seaman, Arsenal immediately stepped up a gear for Wright to score his 17th League goal of the season.

West Ham have only scored 19 goals themselves but they almost gained one more in a spirited late rally when Steve Jones hit the inside of the post. The ball flew across the goal and away to safety. It was that sort of night for West Ham. The problem is they have been having too many such nights this season.

West Ham United (3-5-1-1): Miklosko; Rieper, Bilic, Dicks; Breaker, Williamson, Moncur (Lampard, 28), Hughes, Rowland (Jones, 83); Porfirio; Newell. Substitutes not used: Lazaridis, Ferdinand, Sealey (gk).

Arsenal (3-5-2): Seaman; Rose (Marshall, 77), Adams, Bould; Dixon, Parlour, Vieira, Hughes (Morrow,, Winterburn; Merson, Wright (Hartson,76). Substitutes not used: Shaw, Lukic (gk).

Referee: M Bodenham (Cornwall).

More reports, results, page 27

News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'