Sooner or Slater

West Ham United 1 (Slater 19) Nottingham Forest 0 Attendance: 21,257
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HAVING pulled themselves out of their recent tailspin by scrambling a midweek win over struggling Coventry, West Ham continued the good work by seeing off Forest - not too convincingly, but at this stage of the season it is the three points that matter.

The Hammers started as if still on a high from that midweek triumph, and the game's only goal came in what was to be their purple patch. Their midfield was being sparked by a newly confident Danny Williamson, whose energy in those early minutes overwhelmed the more studious Chris Bart- Williams and Scot Gemmill. It was Williamson's pass in the 19th minute that brought the goal, but it was created by a terrible miskick by Forest defender Colin Cooper. Robbie Slater was quick to seize on the chance and tuck the ball low behind Mark Crossley's dive - the only moment of decisive sharpness Slater was to show all afternoon.

Forest took the blow with equanimity as there were sure signs that the combined skill of Kevin Campbell, Ian Woan and, especially, Bryan Roy would prise open the Hammers' defence. Within minutes of Slater's goal, a Roy cross created panic in front of Ludek Miklosko, and, moments later, Woan found himself closed down by the alert keeper after more neat work from the Dutchman.

Despite an impressive start to the second half, when Andrea Silenzi glanced a header inches too high and a timely Ian Bishop tackle thwarted Roy, Forest definitely ran out of steam and inspiration. Roy became more and more vociferous about his treatment at the hands of certain defenders and ended up with a yellow card. Woan dropped into the midfield to take over the playmaker role from Gemmill, but Campbell and Silenzi were looking less and less likely to deliver the goods.

Indeed it needed two magnificent Crossley saves from Tony Cottee to keep Forest's hopes alive and kicking for a last-minute bombardment of the West Ham goal. With subtlety and sophistication having failed, it was time for Route One. That didn't work either.

To make the Hammers' day, their new Portuguese signing from Sporting Lisbon, Dani, came on to replace Cottee seven minutes from the end. Apart from a ludicrously ambitious attempt to beat Crossley from more than 40 yards, they will have to wait and see if he is to become their next love object.