Ince lays on first taste of success for Hoddle

Wolves 4 - West Ham United 2
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The Independent Online

Glenn Hoddle finally recorded his first League win as Wolves manager after five one-all draws and a poor defeat by Wigan. Hoddle openly predicted promotion when he took over from Dave Jones, but had steered the former Premiership failures nearer a successive season of relegation before this result.

Glenn Hoddle finally recorded his first League win as Wolves manager after five one-all draws and a poor defeat by Wigan. Hoddle openly predicted promotion when he took over from Dave Jones, but had steered the former Premiership failures nearer a successive season of relegation before this result.

The game seemed destined for yet another draw, or even a West Ham win, before late goals from Paul Ince and Carl Cort had the Wolves fans celebrating as if they had already secured promotion, even though they remain in the Championship's bottom half.

West Ham picked up from their attacking form of last week's FA Cup win over the Premiership strugglers Norwich by taking the game to Wolves. Sergei Rebrov had a wild shot as early as the first minute and it seemed to unsettle Hoddle's side.

Ince soon emerged as a dominant figure in midfield, though, and Wolves regained their composure. Ki-Hyeon Seol produced the first save from Jimmy Walker, on his West Ham League debut, with a cross-cum-shot from the right. The first real opening fell to Rebrov, who latched on to a Bobby Zamora flick and had a poke from the edge of the area, which was comfortably saved by Matt Murray, also making his first League start of the season.

A big day then for two keepers more used to keeping the bench warm, but both were promoted after claiming clean sheets in the Cup. A big crowd too, Molineux being all but sold out with West Ham here in numbers and the excitement of an FA Cup trip to Arsenal brewing for Wolves at the end of the month.

The ground was rocking when Kenny Miller gave Wolves a 29th-minute lead they just about deserved. Jody Craddock's free-kick was flicked on by Cort and Miller stabbed in his 11th of the season from six yards.

Hoddle and the Wolves fans had only seven minutes to enjoy their lead as the often criticised Zamora turned on the style with a couple of deft touches to equalise following a floated pass from Rebrov.

Wolves continued to look a distinctly average side after the break as Mark Kennedy and Lee Naylor combined in some sloppy defending to allow Zamora a chance moments after the restart.

Wolves then regained the lead totally against the run of play. Walker seemed to react slowly in goal as Seol crossed to the far post and Miller volleyed in after 54 minutes.

The Wolves fans were particularly harsh on the former Walsall stalwart Walker and were still abusing him when Zamora again equalised for West Ham. This time the reply came within three minutes as Marlon Harewood carved an opening and slid a pass across goal for Zamora to side-foot in.

Anton Ferdinand and Luke Chadwick had chances to put West Ham ahead but were both denied by point-blank saves from Murray. And how they paid for their errors as Ince struck with 18 minutes to go and Cort, who had set Ince up, followed up with Wolves' fourth three minutes later.

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