All of the Premiership clubs avoided each other in the FA Cup third-round draw and one of the leading bookmakers was offering odds of 66-1 that the 20 top flight clubs would all win. It sounded quite a good bet considering there is supposed to be such a gulf between the Premiership and the rest of the footballing world these days, but this was one of the fixtures that would convince punters to keep their money in their pockets.
Norwich, who had lost at this stage six times in the previous seven years, are unlikely to stay in the Premiership this season and although erratic West Ham are a long shotto gain promotion from the Championship, they often raise their game in the FA Cup. The three-times Cup winners did not play that well but still deserved to win thanks to Marlon Harewood's 81st-minute goal.
The Norwich manager Nigel Worthington tore into his side afterwards, claiming that they did not want it as much as West Ham, that they had sold themselves and the fans short.
Worthington was angered by missed chances too, but the Ulsterman hopes to amend that problem after confirming the signing of the £2.5m Crewe striker Dean Ashton, subject to a medical. Worthington claimed he wants a couple more players too and is also an admirer of Harewood, but added: "Whether we can afford him after signing Ashton, I don't know."
The West Ham manager Alan Pardew insisted: "Marlon will not go anywhere this year." Sections of the West Ham crowd have called for Pardew to be sacked during West Ham's indifferent Championship run, though they are placed sixth. Harewood's goal celebration indicated his displeasure with the fans too, although he later claimed to be too tired to celebrate.
Either way, this win answered some critics and Pardew added: "I first had to sort out the wage bill and now I have to get promotion, which I still hope to do. This third round has shown the Championship is stronger than people credit."
With both sides, West Ham in particular, missing key players there was little in it early on although Robert Green made a great stop from Sergei Rebrov and Darren Huckerby missed a chance for Norwich.
As the visitors appeared to get on top their 4,000 cocky supporters began to sing: 'You couldn't sell all your tickets', pointing to empty seats. 'Who the f****** hell are you?' responded West Ham to explain their indifference.
Yet one of West Ham's lowest attend-ances of the season - 23,389 - still produced a cracking atmosphere, which improved after half-time. Huckerby should have given Norwich the lead soon after the restart, but dragged his shot against a post and Mattias Jonson missed a great chance too.
The game seemed to be drifting towards a replay when Luke Chadwick burst down the right and pulled a pass back for Harewood to sidefoot in his 13th goal of the season and kick off another Cockney cup knees-up.Reuse content