West Ham lost two players to red cards and two goals to Sheffield Wednesday last night to inflict more damage on their hopes of Premiership survival. A man down from the 10th minute, when Alvin Martin's lunge on Mark Bright was harshly adjudged to be serious foul play, they were always going to be struggling against a good-looking side given punch and vibrancy by the revitalised Chris Waddle.
While there was a genuine controversy surrounding that sending-off, there were few dissnenting voices among neutral observers when the referee, Paul Danson, ordered off Tim Breacker in the second half, having booked him 20 minutes earlier for the first of two clumsy challenges.
Ahead through Waddle near the end of the first half, Wednesday's advantage was underlined seven minutes from time when Bright trurned in Ian Nolan's left-wing cross.
Martin's dismissal came immediately after Bright gathered possession on the halfway line and attempted to turn Martin, who brought him down.
At that moment there was a vast corridor of space which Bright could have exploited, but reinforcements were hurrying to get across and cover and it was a harsh judgement that ruled it a scoring opportunity.
However, red card it was, much to Martin's disbelief and the anger of both his manager, Harry Redknapp, and the home crowd, who were not slow to make Mr Danson aware of their feelings.
Wednesday, who had enjoyed the better of the skirmishes before the sending-off, forced their numerical advantage, and could have taken the lead on three occasions before Waddle put them in front. When Waddle sent a ball across with a deadly swerve, the goalkeeper, possibly unsighted by Steve Potts, was relieved to see it drift past the post.
The reprieve was only temporary however. In the next minute, the 33rd, Waddle took Hyde's swerved pass and, given time by Kenny Brown to pick his moment, dispatched a delicious effort over Miklosko and in off the underside of the bar.
Tempers remained high and the Leicester official took full names, two for each side, in a testy first 15 minutes after the resumption.
By now the Hammers had recovered some shape and organisation and although Miklosko was called into action to push away another fierce left-footer from Waddle, they were assembling a spirited response.
In fact Wednesday needed Chris Bart-Williams to shovel a header from Jeroen Boere off the goal-line to protect their lead.
Later the lanky Dutchman was first again to John Moncur's corner but this time he pushed his effort wide.
West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Breacker, Martin, Potts, Brown; Hughes (Rieper, 13), Bishop, Moncur, Holmes (Allen, 76); Cottee, Boere. Substitute not used: Sealey (gk).
Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Atherton, Pearce, Walker, Nolan; Ingesson, Bart-Williams, Hyde, Waddle (Petrescu, 74); Bright, Whittingham (Watson, 62). Substitute not used: Woods (gk).
Referee: P Danson (Leicester).Reuse content