Etherington rewards West Ham's endeavour

West Ham United 1 - Rotherham United 0
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The Independent Football

Winning comes in all shapes and sizes and this was the ugly variety, but West Ham were just happy to claim their fourth victory in five outings and at least it came with a pretty flourish thanks to Matthew Etherington's 68th-minute free-kick.

Winning comes in all shapes and sizes and this was the ugly variety, but West Ham were just happy to claim their fourth victory in five outings and at least it came with a pretty flourish thanks to Matthew Etherington's 68th-minute free-kick.

Possession was not a problem for West Ham but against a morale-sapped Rotherham side, without a win this season, that was hardly a surprise. The only difficulty was knowing what to do with so much of the ball for West Ham, who themselves have aspirations to win the Championship this season.

Perhaps the problem was having four players making their home debuts here at Upton Park. Those who were new to East London were Carl Fletcher, Malky Mackay, Calum Davenport and Chris Powell, lending an air of strangers united to the first team. As they bedded in against a Rotherham team with eyes only for a point, it was Teddy Sheringham whose guile gave the Hammers most hope of all.

With five minutes gone, the former Tottenham striker curled a free-kick over the crossbar from 30 yards. One local radio commentator added that the ball was arcing in slow motion, which is much how Sheringham himself moves these days on the pitch.

Yet he still opened up avenues for his team-mates which they failed to exploit. With 27 minutes gone, he fed Etherington and his cross was pushed out to Tomas Repka, whose low shot was well saved by Mike Pollitt.

Etherington was involved again in the set-up to the Hammers' next opportunity but Luke Chadwick blitzed the ball wide from 18 yards.

In what was a flurry of chances around the half-hour mark, Sheringham then flicked on for his fellow striker Marlon Harewood only for the ball to be picked off his toes by Pollitt, and soon afterwards Harewood saw a header comfortably held by the Rotherham goalkeeper.

The goal that West Ham craved and deserved finally arrived just as they were looking ever more desperate and unlikely to break down the Rotherham rearguard.

But with 68 minutes gone, a slightly generous free-kick was given for a foul on Harewood and Etherington stepped up to curl the ball inside Pollitt's right-hand post.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Bywater; Repka, Mackay, Davenport, Powell; Chadwick (Rebrov, 70), Reo-Coker, Fletcher, Etherington (Mullins, 90); Sheringham, Harewood. Substitutes not used: Walker (gk) Brevett, Nowland.

Rotherham United (4-5-1): Pollitt; Stockdale, Gilchrist, Swailes, Minto; Sedgwick, Vernazza (Warne, 73), Mullin, Garner, Shaw (Hurst, 63); Barker (Proctor 80). Substitutes not used: Montgomery (gk), Scott.

Referee: M Jones (Cheshire).

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