Harewood's double deals decisive Hammer blow

West Ham United 2 - Queen's Park Rangers 1
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The Independent Football

For the home team, the task was completed successfully as West Ham got their promotion push back on course. But the Hammers were made to work for the three points, having made heavy work of a largely one-sided encounter against London rivals Queen's Park Rangers.

The renaissance of QPR, under the guidance of Ian Holloway, looked likely to continue when Kevin McLeod equalised Marlon Harewood's opener with 20 minutes remaining. But just as blue-and-white thoughts began drifting towards back-to-back promotions, Harewood's winner seven minutes from time offered a sobering reality check.

Neither side had seemed willing to venture too far forward in the tense early stages, but West Ham, showing the eagerness to end a run of three games without victory, were the first to show their hand. Bustling striker Harewood edged Danny Shittu off the ball before firing a powerful drive at goalkeeper Chris Day after 12 minutes, with midfielder Carl Fletcher's follow-up also keenly stopped by the alert custodian.

Harewood was later guilty of another missed opportunity, lashing his 20-yard effort wide, but the lively striker was given the chance of redemption when Luke Chadwick tumbled in the area under a mistimed challenge from Shittu. The resulting penalty was dispatched with ease to give West Ham a deserved lead going into the break.

The visitors should have been further behind within seconds of the restart when Harewood ran on to a neat pass from the impressive Don Hutchison. A last-ditch tackle from Matthew Rose, however, was enough to stifle the opportunity.

Paul Furlong, the visiting striker, was toiling to make the most of what came his way on a frustrating afternoon, and a thunderous 30-yard shot blazed wide of the relatively untroubled West Ham goalkeeper Stephen Bywater.

But with West Ham looking comfortable, the inevitable happened. The home side eased off and Georges Santos nodded on a throw-in from Marc Bircham and substitute McLeod, on the pitch for just eight minutes, took advantage of some poor marking to tap in from close range.

Yet on 84 minutes, the home side were back in the lead.Full-back Chris Powell crossed into the penalty area and Bobby Zamora cleverly dummied for Harewood to notch his ninth goal of the season from close range and seal victory for West Ham.