West Ham United 4 Walsall 1
Amid the fanfares that have greeted Rio Ferdinand's rise this season, the emergence of Frank Lampard has largely gone unnoticed. Last night the son of the West Ham assistant manager, who shares the same name, put that right with a hat-trick to send his team into the quarter-finals of the Coca-Cola Cup and a home derby against Arsenal.
"For 10 years this club has hardly produced a player of any real note," Harry Redknapp, the Hammers' manager, said, "yet behind Rio [Ferdinand] and Frank there are others coming through.
"I never had any doubt that Frank would make it and this is a big reward for him."
Lampard's contribution ensured West Ham overcame a Walsall side who did not lack for spirit or endeavour. Roger Boli, for example, showed the trickery that this season has made him appear a star in search of his rightful stage, which is not the lower reaches of the Second Division.
The two moves which allowed the Hammers to take an interval lead both came from the same right-hand side of the field. Both were set up by Eyal Berkovitch, who had clearly decided that his pushing and prodding would be levelled against the ramparts of the Walsall defence and not his team-mate John Moncur, as had happened in West Ham's previous game at Chelsea.
In the 14th minute the little Israeli adroitly played in Lampard who hit a shot of sufficient venom to beat James Walker on his near post.
Two minutes later Berkovitch picked out the bustling striker John Hartson with a long sweeping ball to the right touchline. The Welshman ran on unchecked before slipping a low drive through the same hole beside Walker's left-hand post.
Jean Peron drew a stretching save from the West Ham keeper Craig Forrest. The same player then set up Boli, but he clipped his shot drifted narrowly wide of the far upright.
Clearly Walsall believed they had a big part to play in the tie and a minute from the interval they pulled a goal back. John Hodge's corner found Adrian Viveash unmarked, his downward header bouncing up high into the net, although Kevin Watson claimed the final touch.
That reply ensured a lively second half, with Walsall promising an equaliser and West Ham always looking likely to score further goals when they attacked.
When they did so again, the goals came in the space of two minutes as the irrepressible Lampard rounded off precise approach work involving both Hartson and Berkovitch.
West Ham United (3-5-2): Forrest; Pearce, Ferdinand, Unsworth; Breacker, Lampard, Berkovitch, Lomas, Moncur; Abou, Hartson Substitutes not used: Rowland, Dowie, Miklosko (gk).
Walsall (4-4-2): Walker; Evans, Mountfield, Viveash, Marsh (Ricketts, 80); Hodge, Keister (Porter, 30), Keates, Peron; Watson, Boli. Substitute not used: Ryder.
Referee: D Orr (Bucks).
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies