Boro win cup dress rehearsal
By Simon Fudge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Middlesbrough defeated West Ham United 2-0 in an FA Cup semi-final dress rehearsal.
Middlesbrough dealt a psychological blow to FA Cup semi-final opponents West Ham United with a 2-0 win at The Riverside.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink gave Boro the lead just before half time and Massimo Maccarone converted a fortunate second-half penalty to hand the Teessiders the three points.
The result was harsh on West Ham, who had chances of their own throughout the contest, but the visitors failed to convert them.
Boro boss Steve McClaren made nine changes to the side that lost 1-0 at Portsmouth on Saturday, with the Uefa Cup and FA Cup semi-final games coming up in the following week.
Only Matthew Bates and Doriva retained their places in the side to face the East Londoners, while Hasselbaink, Maccarone and Mark Viduka all earned recalls.
Teenage talent David Wheater was handed his first start after making three substitute appearances for Boro.
Hammers boss Alan Pardew, meanwhile, made four changes to the side that defeated Manchester City 1-0 on Saturday.
Shaka Hislop, Yaniv Katan, Teddy Sheringham and Marlon Harewood came in for James Walker, Yossi Benayoun, Bobby Zamora and Dean Ashton.
On a sunny Easter Monday at The Riverside, it was the away side that had the early running.
The Hammers nearly took the lead when Boro youngster Wheater failed to deal with Katan's right-footed cross from the left.
The ball fell to Harewood, but with the goal seemingly at his mercy, Boro goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer pulled off a brilliant point-blank save to the former Nottingham Forest's hit-man's strike fierce strike.
The home side's reply was tame, as Viduka was well off target with a right-footed effort before West Ham veteran Sheringham was booked for handling Hislop's long clearance before shooting wide of Schwarzer's goal.
Boro started to come into the match from that stage and after Doriva struck a fierce drive just over Hislop's crossbar, Franck Queudrue had an even better opportunity from close range.
The French defender surged forward and played a give-and-go with both Viduka and strike partner Hasselbaink before striking his shot across the face of Hislop's goal.
It was West Ham's turn to hand the Teessiders a goalscoring chance after Hasselbaink blocked Danny Gabbidon's poor clearance into the path of Viduka.
The Australian international, however, failed to make the most of the opportunity when he failed to connect his right foot with the ball in the process of shooting.
Schwarzer than caused Boro fans a bit of panic when his ill-judged rush out to a West Ham ball forward saw fleet-footed Harewood win possession in front of the Australian on the left flank.
Despite being out of position, the Boro number one was not to be embarrassed, as Harewood's cross into the box failed to cause any real danger in the end.
The home side then created another quality goalscoring chance, as Viduka sent Hasselbaink in on goal and despite getting the right side of Gabbidon, the Dutchman's shot was easily blocked away by the onrushing Hislop.
The game seemed destined for a 0-0 scoreline at the break after Sheringham's right-footed free kick flew over Schwarzer's crossbar, but a fine bit of play gave Boro the lead four minutes from half time.
Bates played a neat one-two with Maccarone on the right flank before cutting back a pass from the West Ham byline to Hasselbaink and the striker's first time strike beat Hislop to give Boro a half-time lead.
The second half saw West Ham start brightly and in search of an equaliser, with Maccarone needing to block Nigel Reo-Coker's shot at the near post after a corner from the right.
Yet, for all of the away side's endeavours, they fell further behind in harsh circumstances when referee Martin Atkinson awarded Boro a penalty 12 minutes after the restart.
Maccarone did well to dispossess Paul Konchesky on the right flank before running and crossing to the left side and finding Adam Johnson.
The Boro youngster's run into the West Ham box saw him elude marker Lionel Scaloni before the winger dubiously fell over the challenge of Shaun Newton, but Atkinson was convinced a foul was committed and he pointed to the penalty spot.
Despite guessing the right way, Hislop was unable to keep out Maccarone's spot kick, as Boro claimed a fortunate two-goal advantage.
The home side came close to scoring a third on the break, but Hasselbaink's run and shot was well blocked away by Gabbidon.
Boro substitute Malcolm Christie then forced Wales international Gabbidon to block his close-range attempt away for a corner and with the home side in the ascendancy, Wheater should have done better with his header to Maccarone's ensuing corner.
From another Maccarone corner, Queudrue's near-post redirect forced a fine save from Hislop.
With two goals to make up, it looked a tall order for West Ham to get back into the contest, with Hayden Mullins striking a fierce drive wide before Newton's cross-cum-shot from the right flew across the face of Schwarzer's goal.
Pardew's side should have pulled a goal back when substitute Ashton's cross from the right found an unmarked Sheringham, but the former England man's header missed the target at the near post.
Ashton then missed a glorious chance late on, as he sailed his close-range volley over the bar, while Maccarone and Konchesky had late strikes saved at both ends.
In the end, it was Boro that took the plaudits with the win and a psychological edge into the more vital FA Cup semi-final contest with The Hammers at Villa Park next Sunday.
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