Etherington fires past Gills

West Ham United 2 Gillingham 1
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The Independent Football

Alan Pardew has spent the last week smarting from the debacle of West Ham's 4-1 defeat at Millwall, their London neighbours, and the fall-out from that game spilled over into this hard-won victory.

Alan Pardew has spent the last week smarting from the debacle of West Ham's 4-1 defeat at Millwall, their London neighbours, and the fall-out from that game spilled over into this hard-won victory.

The West Ham manager saw his captain booed and unrest set in among the fans during a first half in which they they were held by an occasionally threatening Gillingham side that is now beset with worries about relegation.

Pardew himself is concerned with earning his side promotion, but he still wanted to get some things off his chest after a goal from Matthew Etherington had earned the Hammers three points to move them up to fourth place in Division One.

"This result doesn't make up for the Millwall game," said Pardew. "But today restored some self-belief and showed we can dig deep. It's been a terrible week for everybody who works here and for the fans." Some of those fans had not covered themselves in glory against Millwall, needing a heavy police presence to stop what presumably would have been a charge towards their Millwall counterparts.

As Pardew said: "We did not show much dignity last week but we can show dignity after this game." However, some of those fans chose to boo Christian Dailly, the Hammers' centre-half and captain, simply for scoring an own goal against Millwall. On the grounds that no West Ham player was blameless in that defeat, everyone deserved catcalls.

Dailly struggled on and the Scot even came close to scoring late on, seeing a header pushed out by Steve Banks at point-blank range and Pardew was quick to congratulate him later, saying: "It was a tough game for him. It's my job to protect him, which is why I went on the pitch to shake his hand at the end." The Hammers struck the first blow early on as Bobby Zamora, from Marlon Harewood's flick, scored his fourth goal in nine starts since signing from Tottenham in January.

The Gills' main threat was from Patrick Agyemang and the leggy striker almost equalised within 60 seconds when he curled his shot beyond the far post.

However the Kent side drew level 13 minutes before half-time. From an innocuous looking foray, Chris Hope headed across goal and Danny Spiller lashed his shot home.

The booing of Dailly was replaced by a generally nervous feeling among the home supporters that they were not going to see a second goal, that was until Etherington decided to take matters into his own hands. With 15 minutes remaining he made it to the edge of the area and poked his shot inside Banks' far post for victory, although Pardew refused to countenance notions later on that his side could still genuinely hope for automatic promotion.

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