Football: Kitson glory day

West Ham United 5 (Kitson 5, 13, 89, Hartson 30, 67) Sheffield Wednesday 1 (Carbone 82) Attendance: 24,96

Bob Houston
Saturday 03 May 1997 23:02

If this was to be drinking-up time in the Premiership's Last Chance Saloon, West Ham at least made it a champagne occasion with the five goals that swept Wednesday aside shared by John Hartson and Paul Kitson, the two strikers who have done so much to rescue the Hammers' season.

Two minutes from time, when Kitson thrashed a low shot beyond the beleaguered Kevin Pressman for his hat-trick, it sparked off the ransacking of East End memories to find the last United hat-trick since the glory, glory days of Geoff Hurst.

Facing such a potentially disastrous outcome, the Hammers needed a dream start - and it duly arrived, with bells on. After only four minutes, Slaven Bilic's powerful header was scrambled off the Wednesday goal-line to Kitson who applied the lethal finish.

Within a minute, Ludek Miklosko was touching David Hirst's volley over his crossbar for what could have been the game's most vital moment. Thwarted, Wednesday conceded a second as, seven minutes later, Hartson leapt above the visitors' defence to set up a simple second goal for Kitson.

On 28 minutes, he got into the goal-scoring act himself when he rose to head the third from Hugo Porfirio's free-kick.

With the roll of the dice going their way, the Hammers were not about to take their foot off the accelerator. Eleven minutes into the second half, Bilic sent Porfirio skipping clear of defenders on the left and Hartson met the cross for a simple fourth. The little Portuguese then carved the opening that provided Kitson with his hat-trick, although in between Miklosko had made a hash of Ian Nolan's cross to leave Benito Carbone with a simple consolation goal for Wednesday.

The visitors were not helped by having to face their rejuvenated foes with 10 men for the last half-hour after Hirst was sent packing after a tussle with Rio Ferdinand, who had been a solid and commanding presence in the Upton Park defence.

It's not all over yet, but the East End can breathe more easily after this goal-scoring spree - and it could have been even more but for some superb second-half goalkeeping by Pressman and more than a dash of careless and over-ambitious finishing.

And if this defeat suggests Pressman could do with a little more protection, then it could come from Patrick Blondeau. Monaco's general manager Henry Bianceri, whosaid last night that the French international would be on his way to Hillsborough in the summer.

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