Johnson and Dowie hoping for better days

Crystal Palace 0 West Ham United 1
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The Independent Football

The Hammers were beaten by Palace in the 2004 play-off final and it was no surprise that there was little to separate the sides today. West Ham's new goalkeeper Roy Carroll made an early save to deny Johnson, who has made no secret of his ambition to return to top-flight football as quickly as possible, while Marlon Harewood came close for the visitors from a free-kick, forcing Gabor Kiraly into a fine one-handed save.

Johnson was thwarted for a second time by Carroll, who turned away his precise volley, before the Hammers made the decisive breakthrough after 36 minutes. Harewood was the creator, his cross from the right converted from close range by the former Peterborough and Tottenham winger. The better chances of the second half went the way of the visitors, with Harewood heading one chance off target and trialist midfielder Mario Licka threatening from long range.

Harewood should have doubled the lead with 10 minutes left as he rounded goalkeeper Lionel Speroni but shot wide. Palace then threatened through a Michael Hughes drive which might have been goal-bound, had it not struck fellow Eagle Joonas Kolkka. Yossi Benayoun and Licka continued to impress in midfield but there could have been a twist late on when Dougie Freedman's volley brought a brave save from Carroll.