Sheringham lifts Hammers' hopes as Argyle capitulate

West Ham United 5 - Plymouth Argyle 0
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The Independent Football

Alan Pardew almost lost his job as West Ham manager after last Sunday's FA Cup exit at Sheffield United. Another defeat here would have nailed him as West Ham fans believe their team belong in the Premiership.

Alan Pardew almost lost his job as West Ham manager after last Sunday's FA Cup exit at Sheffield United. Another defeat here would have nailed him as West Ham fans believe their team belong in the Premiership.

Pardew clings on, having argued that this game was possibly more important than a Cup day out at Arsenal. He proved his point as this emphatic win moves West Ham back up into a play-off place.

Pardew said: "I thought about our fans missing out on a trip to Highbury and how well Sheffield did, but I think I would take our win and the manner of it now the day is over. The early goal helped, but the players deserve some credit for bouncing back from all the criticism."

Arsène Wenger's Arsenal have the occasional defensive problem, but the French coach can think himself lucky he does not have Bobby Williamson's Plymouth job.

This game was settled by three abysmal pieces of first-half defending. Plymouth, without a win in nine games, slip closer to relegation and Williamson admitted: "That was our worst performance and we conceded bad goals."

The first came on 10 minutes when Bjarni Gudjonsson punched at Sergei Rebrov's corner. Marlon Harewood sent goalkeeper Luke McCormick the wrong way from the penalty spot for his 15th of the season.

Another teasing Rebrov near-post corner, in the 23rd minute, was challenged for by the impressive Mark Noble and Nick Chadwick. The ball flew off the Argyle striker before bouncing in off McCormick, who was credited with an own goal.

The 2,437-strong passionate Plymouth contingent were silenced when another cross led to the third, in the 40th minute. Teddy Sheringham flicked on Chris Powell's centre and Malky Mackay received a 33rd birthday gift in the form of an unchallenged volley from close range.

The match was over as a contest and Plymouth were thankful Gillingham could only draw, leaving them four points clear of the relegation zone.

Plymouth nearly sneaked back into it as West Ham eased off the gas, but Stephen Bywater remained alert in goal and West Ham reached the four-goal mark when Sheringham headed in a 76th-minute Carl Fletcher cross.

Mathias Doumbe then conceded an 81st-minute penalty and the referee, Kevin Friend, sent him off for tripping Nigel Reo-Coker. Sheringham scored again with a twice-taken effort.

When four minutes of added time were announced the Plymouth fans sang: "We're gonna win 6-5".

They didn't, of course, but their team would not be in so much trouble if the players could match the desire of their supporters.

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