Rose is the thorn for toiling Hammers

Queen's Park Rangers 1 - West Ham United 0
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Where it will eventually lead who knows, but Queen's Park Rangers are charging, and any side who stand in their way this season will find themselves up against a team tenaciously looking after themselves. West Ham did not exactly roll over yesterday, but lost to an outfit more willing and a shade more able.

Where it will eventually lead who knows, but Queen's Park Rangers are charging, and any side who stand in their way this season will find themselves up against a team tenaciously looking after themselves. West Ham did not exactly roll over yesterday, but lost to an outfit more willing and a shade more able.

Before being interrupted by the international programme, both clubs had enjoyed encouraging wins. West Ham had beaten Wolves and Rangers had overcome Stoke. Of the two, though, it was Rangers who were on the more impressive roll. Yesterday brought a seventh successive victory; their best League sequence in 20 years.

With goals not coming in profusion for West Ham so far this season, the absence of Teddy Sheringham was a potential problem. However, their squad have some depth, and with Bobby Zamora and Marlon Harewood up front, there was still every chance Rangers would have a tough time defensively.

In the event, having quelled West Ham in their early minutes of promising building, Rangers undermined their visitors' confidence with a fine goal, thoughtfully made by Lee Cook. He delayed a forward pass long enough for Matthew Rose to move ahead into empty space and side-foot a neat finish. That left West Ham regretting that Nigel Reo-Coker had earlier slid a low shot past the post after Harewood had put him through invitingly.

Thereafter, by concentrating largely on attacking down the left side, Rangers maintained the goal-inspired momentum in a game that became increasingly fractious.

Looking at the broader perspective, however, neither side offered irresistible evidence that should they end the season promoted, they have sufficient ability to survive on the higher plains. Indeed, both put huge effort into all they did without raising the pulse of the uncommitted.

But this was not a match for the uncommitted. Tackles became ever more rash. Arms thrashed wildly and the referee had to control rising tempers. His yellow card against Marc Bircham, who scythed down Sergei Rebrov, was, if anything, lenient.

In a 10-minute period towards the end, Rangers boasted the bulk of the goal-scoring opportunities, though none was obvious. In fact their best chance may have come from the penalty spot when the disappointing Zamora went back to assist the West Ham defence at a corner. The ball bounced ahead of him and he clearly handled, but the referee again showed leniency. Another Rangers goal would not have been justified.

Their manager, Ian Holloway, nicely summed it up: "We don't pay anything like other clubs but we've got self-belief. Even so, when I look at our next fixtures it still scares me. We've got our foot down, anyway." West Ham's Alan Pardew was equally candid: "The players we brought in today made it easy for those who were missing to come straight back."

Comments