Southampton V West Ham

Post Match Comments
Audio Match ReportSaturday 25th November 2000
The Dell
Referee: S Bennett

West Ham began life without Rio Ferdinand in fine style with victory at The Dell.

Harry Redknapp's side, who sold the centre-back to Leeds for a British record £18million this week, displayed all their attacking vibrancy to sink in-form Southampton.

The Saints, who had taken seven points from their previous three Premiership games, took the first-half lead through Matt Oakley, only to fall behind to Frederic Kanoute and Stuart Pearce goals by the interval.

James Beattie's sixth goal in four games restored parity but the impressive Trevor Sinclair sealed another away day win for the Hammers. They are unbeaten on the road since early September.

Ferdinand's departure may have been more keenly felt with Ian Pearce also sidelined with a hamstring problem, but the visitors' makeshift defence coped and their attacking verve sealed the three points.Hammer's boss Harry Redknapp reiterated after the game that he hopes to be able to spend the money the club will receive, saying:

"I want to get my hands on the £18 million pounds to take us onwards but I wouldn't bet on it.

"The fans are waiting to know how much I can spend. I'm sorry to lose Rio but we couldn't turn it down. I would have been the first to say if I had not agreed to the deal".

He also revealed that both Chelsea and Liverpool want to sign Freddie Kanoute but insisted:

"He is not for sale - it was hard enough selling Rio".

In the meantime, says Harry, Rigobert Song will sign early in the week but Redknapp added:

"Hopefully it will be done on Monday but he is not a replacement for Rio. I do have another target, just a foreign player for £1 million pounds."

Redknapp has been angered by suggestions that there is any form of 'severance' pay for Rio, to the extent of even taking to task one journalist who he thought had written a story to that effect.

Although Ferdinand himself has not said publicly he wanted a pay off, he is contractually entitled to certain monies - which West Ham have agreed to pay.

Redknapp added:

"We'd all like to be in his position, he's only 22 and he is thinking 'shall I take the £40,00 a week or stay here?'

"It's not the worst decision he'll have to make in his life."

Of the match itself, Redknapp commented:

"I thought we deserved the win with a patched up side. Stimac did well because he is not really fit and Kanoute is looking a bit special.

"He gave Richards a hard time just as he did to Radebe last week. He's a threat to anybody.

"But I have always said we will finish in the top half and that it was only a matter of time before we got there.

"Earier in the season we just weren't getting the luck but the only bad half I've had out of the them was against Arsenal, and we had a crap game at Derby."

With Igor Stimac the only recognised centre-back in the visitors' ranks, Harry Redknapp employed Stuart Pearce in the middle with captain Steve Lomas filling in at right-back - the Hammers ditching their usual wing-back system in favour of a 4-4-2 formation.

Paolo di Canio returned to the side that won at Leeds last weekend, having recovered from a stomach bug. The Italian was paired with Frederic Kanoute in attack with Kaba Diawara used on the left-hand side of midfield.

Saints boss Glenn Hoddle changed his side despite the win over Aston Villa last weekend.

Tahar El Khalej was available again after suspension and Hoddle plumped for the Moroccan over Kevin Davies in midfield.

Beattie was the hero against Villa last week, with two headed goals, and the striker's forehead almost provided the home side with a dream start.

Jo Tessem manufactured space down the right within the first 30 seconds, and the Norwegian's cross was powered inches wide of Shaka Hislop's left-hand upright after Beattie had outjumped Stimac.

The Saints who came even closer to finding the net after a 13th-minute mix-up between Hislop and Stimac.

The pair found themselves in a tangle as they attempted to snuff out a loose ball, and Tessem nipped in to head goalwards, only for Lomas to hack off the line.

The hosts did have the ball in the net a minute later via El Khalej's hand.

The midfielder had already been booked by Steve Bennett for a tug of Diawara's shirt but the referee chose to take no further action following the most blatant of handballs.

Southampton did not have to wait much longer for their opener, however, through Oakley's first goal of the season.

Trevor Sinclair headed clear following a corner, but only as far as Oakley, whose first-time half-volley from 20 yards rocketed past Hislop's despairing dive.

Stimac was yellow-carded for a succession of fouls on Beattie and the Croatian almost doubled Southampton's advantage inadvertently.

He dived full-length to deal with Hassan Kachloul's drilled centre from the left but only succeeded in diverting the ball into the sidenetting.

Hoddle was forced into a reshuffle 10 minutes before the break when centre-back Claus Lundekvam was forced off with what appeared to be a leg muscle injury. Mark Draper replaced him with El Khalej reverting to the heart of the defence.

West Ham countered to good effect and di Canio clipped a shot over the bar following a typically mazy run.

The Hammers then turned the game around with two goals in two minutes providing an interval lead; Sinclair involved in both.

First, the winger's cross found Kanoute and the striker's glancing header nestled in the far corner despite Paul Jones getting a hand to the effort.

Then in the 42nd-minute, another Sinclair cross from the right dropped at the feet of 38-year-old Pearce.

The former England man met the clearance just outside the penalty area and sent a typical hammer-like strike skidding off the sodden surface and beyond Jones.

The quality of the goals belied the treacherous conditions under foot, and it was another fine finish that levelled the scores, Beattie extending his purple patch with his sixth goal in four games.

Kachloul whipped in a cross from the left-hand touchline and the former England under-21 striker swivelled to steer a volley, with the outside of his boot, across Hislop and into the far corner.

The 52nd-minute equaliser only served to spur the Hammers into a response, however, and it took a well-timed challenge from Dean Richards to dispossess Kanoute, after the Frenchman had surged into the box.

Saints skipper Jason Dodd cleared after Jones spilled a Di Canio cross-shot and Diawara nodded over the bar after Sinclair had found him unmarked eight yards out.

West Ham regained the lead in the 68th minute, Sinclair seizing on Di Canio's flicked header to a long ball and outpacing the defence to slide the ball past Jones from 15 yards.

West Ham deserved their advantage and Frank Lampard went close to adding to it with a 30-yard drive, 13 minutes from time, just clearing the bar.

It was the midfielder's final contribution, though - a challenge from substitute Uwe Rosler leaving him in a heap before medics stretchered him off.

The tackle incensed Di Canio and the reaction from his team-mates suggested Lampard was in serious pain.

Rosler may have sealed a point for Southampton in the final minute but his header from a Pahars corner was blocked at point-blank range by Hislop.