West Ham Utd 3 Brighton 0: Curbishley's mood lifted by Boa Morte

West Ham manager accuses media of misrepresentation and attacks Reo-Coker's critics
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The Independent Online

Alan Curbishley has been round the football block too often to believe that this comfortable Cup win will act as a quick fix to deeper ills. However, the West Ham manager's doctoring of the side after recent embarrassments was effective, though afterwards he was far from happy.

He had made six changes since the humiliating 6-0 defeat by Reading the previous Monday and did not even have the club captain, Nigel Reo-Coker, on the bench, encouraging speculation that he did not want the player Cup-tied for prospective employers. However, at a short, ill-tempered press conference after the game he took exception to the way some of his own comments had been reported.

"I am very disappointed with some of the coverage of certain things I have said," began Curbishley. "I have been here four weeks nearly and am outraged at the criticism which Reo-Coker has received since I have been here. It as if it is his fault we are in the bottom three and have not been performing that well, which is total nonsense.

"I would just like everyone connected with West Ham to leave him alone. He is a young boy and it is not his fault." He went on to explain his attitude to players who arrived in the summer. "I did say 'yes, there had been a lot of activity in the summer, and really when you look at the players who've been brought in, not many of them have established themselves in the first team'. It has been spun around that I've been blaming all of the players who came in this summer for our problems. I would never do that."

Having said that, he is bound to bring in more new players to support his first signing, Luis Boa Morte from Fulham, who was the inspiration of this victory over a stubborn League One side. Boa Morte occupied the deep left side, supporting the attack and here he made an immediate impression.

Although Brighton's Alexandre Frutos did drift a cross-shot on to the roof of West Ham's net in only the first minute, the current of the game quickly began to flow in the other direction. Boa Morte neatly sent Carlos Tevez on a run across the Brighton penalty area, culminating in a shot on target that was deflected away for a non-productive corner. Boa Morte was out to impress, and it required an 11th-minute block by Guy Butters to stop him breaking through. The forward fell over Butters, but cries for a penalty were optimistic.

As so often, failure to score in the first half an hour led to a decline in confidence for the Premiership side. Their midfield players failed to seek space, lacked vision and frequently lost the ball. A familiar story. And their situation was aggravated when the central defender Anton Ferdinand had to abandon the game shortly before half-time with a groin injury.

Whatever Curbishley said at half-time it had a positive effect. After four minutes, Boa Morte struck a centre that Brighton should have cleared. However, Butters deflected it and the ball went to Tevez. He played it back to Mark Noble, who slammed in his first senior goal.

The influence of Boa Morte was again felt in the 58th minute when his centre found Carlton Cole, who struck in a fine close-range volley. Thanks to the Portuguese player's sense of urgency, West Ham were a different team.

The sense of comfort brought on by the second goal meant they could offer Bobby Zamora a chance to come on against his former club. With 15 minutes remaining Boa Morte was replaced, having done more than enough to win instant popularity with the fans. And a stoppage-time glancing header by Hayden Mullins for West Ham's third at least had them applauding rather than jeering.

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