Shaw's slip shatters Coventry

West Ham United 3 - Coventry City 0
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The Independent Online

Richard Shaw will probably never score a better or more important goal at Upton Park. Unfortunately for the Cov-entry defender, his late diving header was an own goal, and kept West Ham's play-off hopes alive while leaving his own team on the brink of relegation.

Richard Shaw will probably never score a better or more important goal at Upton Park. Unfortunately for the Cov-entry defender, his late diving header was an own goal, and kept West Ham's play-off hopes alive while leaving his own team on the brink of relegation.

After a fairly even battle, Shaw's error broke Coventry's spirit, and with the game all but lost they conceded further goals in the final two minutes to Teddy Sheringham and Bobby Zamora.

The West Ham fans were not happy Hammers, though, and a vocal section stayed behind to protest against what they perceive to be the mismanagement of the club by the chairman, Terry Brown. The club's pathetic retort was to try and drown them out with old pop music in a form of audio torture.

That said, the game had hardly been entertaining until Shaw's blunder. West Ham had been on top, but also needed their goalkeeper, Jimmy Walker, to make two good saves to keep them in a game they had to win.

The West Ham manager, Alan Pardew, made a decisive move at half-time by sending on Matthew Etherington, who proceeded to play a part in all three goals. It was Etherington's 76th-minute cross from the left that Shaw powered past his own goalkeeper, the impressive Luke Steele, with a full-length diving header.

And it was Etherington who was tripped by Richard Duffy, allowing Sheringham the chance to score from a twice-taken penalty with a minute to go. Sixty seconds later Etherington set up a third goal with another cross from the left that his fellow substitute Zamora headed in comfortably from close range at the far post.

A play-off place is still in West Ham's own hands with five games to go, and Pardew believes they should be a top-six side again if they can extend their winning run to four games when Millwall visit next Saturday.

"There has been a negative attitude around this club since we were relegated from the Premiership and I am aware of what is going on," said Pardew. "We win 3-0 and protests after the game are not what I want, because it creates negativity when we have to remain positive."

Pardew was in better mood talking about the own goal from his former Crystal Palace team-mate Shaw. "I thanked him for still wearing the 'Stay-Glo' gel because I think it slid on off that, but I don't think he was too pleased."

Coventry's manager, Micky Adams, was too angry to attend the post-match press conference, according to his assistant, Adrian Heath.

"That was our worst performance for a while," said Heath. "I have a feeling that we will need to win two to stand a chance of staying in this division."

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