Hammers' fans suffer in silence

West Ham United 0 Wimbledon 2
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The Independent Online
There was a strange silence around Upton Park as West Ham kicked off and it was hard to fathom quite what was going on. Had somebody died? Was everybody stoned? Or was it the underwhelming prospect of watching Wimbledon that had the West Ham regulars lost for words?

Whatever it was, it did not help the Hammers' cause. Home advantage was surrendered from the start, the players looked nervous and Wimbledon were allowed to walk in and help themselves to the points.

Andy Clarke, on as a substitute for the Dons for the 90th time, bundled in the first goal after tenacious work by Efan Ekoku, and Ekoku scored the second near the end when Julian Dicks lost his footing and left Ludek Miklosko with little hope.

There were no other moments to savour from a dire match. The giant electric screens, with their amusing little cartoon characters, never once flickered into life; Paulo Futre limped off after half an hour, Ilie Dumitrescu was substituted after Clarke's goal and Florin Raducioiu was not even on the bench.

As for Slaven Bilic, the supposed rock of West Ham's defence, he seemed so intent on working his way up the right touchline that you began to wonder whether he was ever going to come back or just keep going all the way to White Hart Lane.

West Ham were a shambles and Harry Redknapp, their manager, was annoyed. "The goals were awful," he said. "I don't want to see centre-halves running up the field, I want to see centre-halves defending. That's what they get paid to do."

There was more of the same - "the forwards have got to start scoring, the midfield's got to start midfielding" - but the reality is that, after several months of peace and quiet, Redknapp has some problems to solve and that is what he gets paid to do.

Goals: Clarke (59) 0-1; Ekoku (85) 0-2.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Breacker (Lazaridis, 66), Rieper, Bilic, Dicks; Hughes, Williamson, Bowen, Dumitrescu (Moncur, 66); Futre (Cottee, 33), Dowie. Substitures not used: Ferdinand, Shilton (gk).

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Sullivan; Cunningham, Perry, McAllister, Thatcher; Ardley, Earle, Jones, Gayle; Goodman (Clarke, h/t), Ekoku (Blackwell, 89). Substitutes not used: Leonhardsen, Harford, Heald (gk).

Referee: R Dilkes (Mossley, Lancs).

Bookings: West Ham: Dicks.

Man of the match: Ekoku.

Attendance: 21,924.

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