Redknapp wrestles with striking problem

West Ham United 1 Leicester City 0
Click to follow
The Independent Online
The sight of "Disco" Dani, the teenage Portuguese striker he gave up on last season, powering two headers, of all things, past Rangers in the Champions' League for Ajax last week, was all Harry Redknapp needed, given the dearth of goals in that department of the West Ham team this season. "I was pleased for the boy," he said. I bet he was.

Apart from anything else, it was a reminder of how things used to be last season. Playing out the end of a campaign in a comfortable mid-table position was a new experience for Redknapp and one he was hoping to repeat, if not build upon. Somehow his foreign legion has lost its way, despite further additions to its ranks.

Saturday's ultimately close-run victory is no guarantee that they have turned the corner, either. As Redknapp conceded: "We need to find the right blend up front to give us more goals." Only once has a West Ham striker found the net this season and that was Tony Cottee (who has now left the club) against Barnet. They tried what amounted to three up front against Leicester with no signs of obvious improvement although little Hugo Porfirio, on loan from Sporting Lisbon, may prove to be a worthwhile substitution for Dani.

The frenetic pace of the English game seems to suit his all-action style. Not so the Romanian Florin Raducioiu, whose cultured, composed game seems to have no future here. Between them and Iain Dowie they did not muster a single menacing shot, for all their possession and pressure in the first hour.

It eventually took a measured side-footed finish from John Moncur, their talented midfielder, to procure victory, although Porfirio did lay it on. Curiously, the Hammers produced some of their best results last season while Moncur was injured, but they certainly seem to be missing Danny Williamson now.

Leicester's finish almost deserved a point but instead all they ended up with was 10 men and a fistful of bookings, thanks to first-year referee Mike Riley, who does like to apply the letter of the law instead of common sense. For once the ultra-combative Steve Walsh did not deserve his dismissal - the 12th of his career - following two bookings. As manager Martin O'Neill told Riley: "You miss the lambasting tackles and then book players needlessly for just kicking the ball away."

Goal: Moncur (77) 1-0.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Bowen (Breacker, 75), Rieper, Bilic, Dicks; Bishop, Moncur, Hughes; Porfirio, Dowie, Raducioiu (Lazaridis, 68). Substitutes not used: Dumitrescu, Lampard, Shilton (gk).

Leicester City (4-4-2): Keller; Prior, Watts, Walsh, Whitlow; Grayson, Lennon, Taylor (Parker, 82), Izzet; Heskey, Marshall (Claridge, 67). Substitutes not used: Hill, Lawrence, Poole (gk).

Referee: M Riley (West Yorkshire).

Bookings: West Ham: Dicks, Porfirio, Bilic. Leicester: Whitlow, Lennon, Heskey, Walsh. Sending off: Walsh.

Man of the match: Moncur.

Attendance: 22,285.