West Ham United 0 Watford 1: Tevez unable to lift Hammers' fear factor

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The Independent Football

Carlos Tevez and family recently visited Madame Tussauds, where the Chamber of Horrors would have prepared the West Ham striker for the Hammers' house of horrors seen on Saturday. As the Argentine initially watched this relegation special from the bench, he saw a team paralysed by anxiety. But which particular Hammer Film production were they re-enacting? Taste Of Fear? Guardian Of The Abyss? Maybe, given the bumbling misadventure, it was Mutiny On The Buses.

Mutiny was certainly in the air with the West Ham support. The team left the field to chants of, "You're not fit to wear your shirt." Having missed West Ham's first penalty of the season, Marlon Harewood was villain of the hour. He was subjected to a seething tirade from one fan as he got into his car after the match.

West Ham's manager, Alan Curbishley, had declared this match a must-win. This seemed to fill his team with foreboding. Soon, dread turned to disaster. Neither team had been awarded a penalty this season, a lack addressed when Anton Ferdinand and the referee staged their own ambitious cross-studio re-make - a tragi-comic blend of Hammer's 1949 release Man In Black and the 1946 Warner blood-curdler The Beast With Five Fingers.

Watford's Darius Henderson beat Ferdinand on the edge of the area. The defender reached back, grabbing at the forward's shoulder, and Henderson blasted the resulting penalty home for his first goal in 30 games - and Watford's first in three and a half hours' play.

West Ham had chances in the first half, notably when Bobby Zamora diverted the ball away from an open net. But they also saw Lucas Neill limp off. It wasn't until the second half and the arrival of Tevez that they woke. Tevez was a man unleashed, a brash buckaroo attempting to herd his bovine comrades across the pampas. With questions over Tevez's commitment and fitness now seemingly gone, how can West Ham seem reluctant to play a man three times voted the South American player of the year?

Tevez flicked the ball on for Nigel Reo-Coker to win West Ham's penalty. Harewood put it wide. West Ham brought on the £5m Luis Boa Morte for the £1.5m Nigel Quashie. Watford got better value from the midfielder Johan Cavalli, 5ft 5in of cost-free Corsican ebullience.

The visitors' team performance was epitomised by Malky Mackay. The defender's diligence crossed into the spectacular when he cleared a goal-bound Tevez shot. After the missed penalty, West Ham never looked like winning. Watford discarded the guileless manner they have sometimes shown, edging toward their first away win of the season with artful time-wasting.

Watford were ecstatic and their goalkeeper Ben Foster reflected on the win, his England debut in midweek and his previous life in the bistro business. "It beats stirring the duck soup at the Café Rouge in Leamington Spa," he said.

Curbishley, a former West Ham player, born up the road at Forest Gate, said: "We haven't delivered. I was confident we wouldn't be in this situation by now. I looked at the fixtures - no disrespect - but I thought we'd be out of it. We aren't."

Goal: Henderson pen (12) 0-1.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; Neill (Spector, 32), Ferdinand, Davenport, McCartney; Benayoun, Reo-Coker, Quashie (Boa Morte, 80), Etherington; Harewood, Zamora (Tevez, h-t). Substitutes not used: Carroll (gk), Dailly.

Watford (4-4-2): Foster; Mariappa, DeMerit, Mackay, Stewart; Smith, Mahon, Francis, Cavalli (Bangura, 75); Henderson (Shittu, 90), Kabba (Ashikodi, 79). Substitutes not used: Priskin, Hoskins.

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

Booked: West Ham United Davenport, Spector, Benayoun, Reo-Coker; Watford Mariappa, Ashikodi.

Man of the match: Mackay.

Attendance: 34,625