Teddy inspires Hammers fightback
By Chris Stanton
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
West Ham staged an impressive fightback to record a 3-1 victory over over Blackburn.West Ham staged an impressive, Teddy Sheringham inspired, fightback to record a 3-1 victory over 10-man Blackburn.
Andy Todd's first goal since Boxing Day had appeared to set Rovers on their way but second half strikes from the effervescent Sheringham and Nigel Reo-Coker turned the game on its head.
Matthew Etherington added a third for The Hammers with Blackburn's only reply a wild lunge from Paul Dickov on Paul Konchesky, resulting in a straight red card for the Scot.
It had all started so well for Rovers who dominated the early exchanges as newly-promoted West Ham took time to acclimatise to the pace of Premiership football.
New signing Shefki Kuqi got clear down the left but his cross was blocked and, a minute later, Reid tried a long-range piledriver but that too was blocked as The Hammers made a nervous start to life back in the top-flight.
Despite Rovers' early pressure, it was West Ham who carved out the first clear-cut opportunity after five minutes with Marlon Harewood beating both Todd and Aaron Mokoena before dragging his shot wide.
At the other end, Robbie Savage's 30-yard free kick was headed off the line by Konchesky as Rovers began to turn the screw.
That narrow escape proved a mere reprieve for The Hammers and after a succession of Morten Gamst Pedersen corners, Todd swept home low to Roy Carroll's left.
West Ham attempted to hit back with Marlon Harewood's running down the channels causing Rovers discomfort; Harewood burst clear down the right touchline before Savage had to resort to a late trip. The feisty Welshman was duly booked.
While Harewood's running was The Hammers' biggest threat, Rovers' attacking impetus was also coming down the West Ham right and Rovers' left. Pedersen was a constant threat and from his long throw, Kuqi headed into Carroll's hands when he really should have done better.
On the half-hour, Harewood had a second opportunity, after a through ball from Sheringham caused hesitation in the Rovers backline, allowing the pacey striker in but he took the ball wide and the danger passed.
West Ham's threat was growing and Sheringham's shot was saved low down to his left by Rovers keeper Brad Friedel. The American keeper was uncertain moments later, spilling a Konchesky cross but Sheringham failed to make a decent contact.
Neither side made any changes at half-time but Rovers manager Mark Hughes probably wishes he had as his side struggled to come to terms with West Ham's attacking verve.
On 46 minutes, Todd turned from hero to villain when his indecision failed to cut out a ball from Israeli ace Yossi Benayoun. Todd succeeded only in presenting a gift to Sheringham who slotted the ball low to Friedel's left, to level the score at 1-1.
Rovers were rocking and Sheringham fed Harewood whose cross was over-hit, Sheringham nearly added a second himself but failed to get sufficient contact on a loose ball. Hughes sensed the growing danger and introduced Vratislav Gresko for Kuqi on 55 minutes as Rovers sought to shore up their defence.
The Slovakian was immediately involved and put in an inviting cross but Danny Gaddidon beat Craig Bellamy to the ball. From the resulting corner, Todd looked to atone for his earlier mistake with a far post header but Konchesky again cleared off the line.
Etherington fed Reo-Coker, who turned the leaden footed Mokoena, before firing an unstoppable shot on 62 minutes to put The Hammers into the lead.
West Ham were playing the more constructive football while Rovers were struggling to create a noteworthy chance. Hughes introduced Paul Dickov, who replaced the disappointing Mokoena, but still Rovers failed to make any headway and instead it was West Ham who took the initiative.
Ten minutes from time, Brett Emerton's misplaced pass played in Benayoun who unselfishly squared for Etherington to tap home.
Rovers' frustration boiled over as Dickov leapt in two-footed on Konchesky and Referee Alan Wiley correctly adjudged the incident to be a red card offence.
A late chance fell to Bellamy but he dragged his effort wide of goal to sum up an unhappy start for Rovers but Alan Pardew's men will be delighted to open their season with a three-point haul.
West Ham v Blackburn click here for player ratings
|West Ham United||Team Name||Blackburn Rovers|
|6||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||1|
|8||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||6|
|11||Total Fouls Conceded||15|