Glenn Roeder, the West Ham United manager, praised his new signing, David Connolly, after the former Wimbledon striker scored twice and set up another goal to inspire the Hammers to a 3-1 Carling Cup first-round victory over Rushden & Diamonds on Wednesday night.
Roeder's decision to drop Connolly from the starting line-up against Preston at the weekend sparked a public row between the two, but the Republic of Ireland international now seems set to play a major part at Upton Park this season.
Connolly hit the bar with a cheeky chip in the lead-up to Jermain Defoe's opener. Having being given the starting role he craved, Connolly repaid that faith with the second goal.
Onandi Lowe gave the Second Division newcomers a ray of hope when he reduced the deficit with 11 minutes remaining of the first half, but Connolly added his second of the game after 78 minutes.
Roeder said: "I would say already he has shown he is good value. He has shown that he is now an experienced striker with good movement and an eye for goal. He and Jermain did well together... That's what you want your strikers to do - form a good partnership."
His Rushden counterpart, Brian Talbot, said: "We didn't have a lot of chances but we didn't let ourselves down. The difference between the teams tonight was the two strikers. Connolly and Defoe were outstanding. They were quick and their feet were good."
The West Ham chairman, Terence Brown, said yesterday that he tried to keep the club's financial problems quiet to prevent other teams taking advantage of their situation. Brown played down the need to sell players following relegation from the Premiership before Joe Cole, Frédéric Kanouté, Glen Johnson and Trevor Sinclair all left Upton Park.
"We are now in a sound financial position and have delivered everything we promised our banks," he said. "We have no need to sell any more players for financial reasons and that includes Jermain [Defoe].
"Those who say we should have shown more ambition and kept the whole squad together need to understand that by November we would have run out of cash and any cheques drawn by the club after that time would have bounced."
Sunderland ended their appalling run of form under their manager, Mick McCarthy, with a last-gasp 2-1 win at Mansfield in the Carling Cup.
Sunderland made the start they needed when David Artell put through his own goal after 18 minutes. The Black Cats looked all set for their first competitive win under McCarthy, but returned the favour with Ben Clark scoring an own goal in the last minute.
That was not the end of the scoring, however, and McCarthy did finally achieve his long-awaited victory thanks to an injury-time winner from Kevin Kyle.
Reading survived a worrying second half to defeat Boston 3-1. Nicky Forster put Reading ahead in the 16th minute but Boston equalised through a Neil Redfearn penalty after 69 minutes. Steve Sidwell put Reading ahead against their Third Division opponents - who only entered the Football League last season - with seven minutes remaining. There was even time left for Forster to score his second.
Dele Adebola and Graham Barrett scored midway through the second half to see Coventry into the next round at the expense of Peterborough at Highfield Road.
Dean Bowditch was the Ipswich hero as he hit the winner just a minute into extra time to edge the First Division side past Kidderminster at Portman Road after a goalless 90 minutes.
Bristol City needed extra time to beat Swansea, although they did it convincingly in the end, winning 4-1. Karl Connolly levelled for the Swans just after Lee Peacock had opened the scoring in the first half but no more goals followed in normal time. Peacock, Mickey Bell and Danny Coles were on target for City in extra time to send the Second Division side through.
Hartlepool beat Sheffield Wednesday on penalties at Hillsborough. Graeme Lee gave the hosts the lead, but Paul Robinson levelled and Hartlepool went ahead in extra time thanks to Steven Istead.
Then Richard Wood equalised for Wednesday and the game went to spot-kicks, with Hartlepool putting one over their former manager, Chris Turner, with a 5-4 victory.