Coventry V West Ham

Post Match Comments
Audio Match ReportSaturday 23rd September 2000
Highfield Road

West Ham United notched up their first Premiership win of the season as they hammered a subdued Coventry City in their own backyard.

Ironically, it was the Hammers' first league win since beating Coventry 5-0 at Upton Park last April.

And it was enough to lift the team off the bottom of the table.

Harry Redknapp said after the game:

"It was only a matter of time before it turned. We have been playing well every game but it finally turned today.

We were the only side who liked like scoring and we got in situations where we could have punished them more. We had chances but didn't make enough use of the final pass. We have played much better than that this season."

The only down side to the afternoon was the 12th minute injury to Rio Ferdinand.

Of the injury, he confirmed:

"Rio has a groin injury. If he's not fit to play against Bradford on Saturday he is not fit for England. His hip has been the problem this season.

We get very thin on the ground when we get a few injuries - we are short of cover. We have no capacity for injuries, but it is good to have Frank Lampard back".

Redknapp insisted that he has never lost faith in his players despite West Ham having been bottom of the table, explaining:

"You talk about confidence - the dressing room mood is great and my confidence hasn't waned. You would have to be an idiot to work at a football club and not be happy with the players I've got. In the past, four or five years ago, I have looked at the football team and thought 'what a load of crap I've got here'".

Redknapp has urged Joe Cole to take a leaf out of Frank Lampard's book and score more goals. He said:

"I said to him before the game he's got to score goals. If he is going to be the player we want him to be he's got to be scoring twelve a season.

He's got pace, once he leaves someone he's gone. He can tackle, run, work, and has got a heart as big as his body."

Goals from Paolo Di Canio, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard put a smile on manager Harry Redknapp's face and consigned the Sky Blues to their third disappointing home defeat.

And it was no more than the visitors deserved. West Ham arrived in the Midlands in positive mood and from the early stages were determined to end their misfiring start to the campaign.

The Sky Blues manager has seen his side slip to 17th place in the league and if his men continue to register lacklustre performances like this one, that position will be the best they can hope for.

However, it wasn't all good news for the visitors as Rio Ferdinand limped off after just 12 minutes at Highfield Road. The 22 year-old went down after challenging for a 50-50 ball with Moustapha Hadji and was unable to carry on despite receiving treatment.

Ferdinand now looks to be a serious doubt for Kevin Keegan's England squad for the upcoming World Cup clash with Germany at Wembley, a game which could have seen him thrust into the side after Sol Campbell and Tony Adams recent injuries.

It was a huge blow for Redknapp, who had been able to call on di Canio and Frederic Kanoute after the pair shook off hamstring injuries to return to the starting line-up having both missed the midweek Worthington Cup win over Walsall.

Lampard also returned in midfield in place of teenage sensation Michael Carrick, although the versatile Under-21 international was soon called into action as Ferdinand's replacement.

Coventry made just one change from the team that beat Preston in midweek with David Thompson recalled and Ysrael Zuniga continuing to deputise for Cedric Roussel up front.

The injury to Ferdinand was the only talking point of a dour start, but seven minutes before half-time Di Canio, who was making his 50th appearance in a West Ham shirt, took the game by the scruff of the neck after Richard Shaw made a schoolboy mistake.

Kanoute's cross appeared harmless as Shaw collected the ball to clear but he clumsily miscontrolled, allowing it to run free to di Canio, who steadied himself before calmly punishing the ex-Crystal Palace defender's mistake and beating Magnus Hedman from 10 yards out.

Strachan's defence was again found wanting barely a minute later as Cole doubled the lead. This time di Canio was the provider, clipping in a left-foot cross across the penalty area that three Coventry defenders watch sail overhead, leaving Cole time and space to chest the ball down and beat Hedman.

Unsurprisingly, Strachan made a change at half-time with John Eustace replacing Thompson in midfield with an immediate galvanising effect.

After Stuart Pearce had forced a good block from Hedman with a piledriving free-kick from a narrow angle, Eustace set up the home side's first real chance of the game, Zuniga's header however lacked any power and Hislop comfortably gathered.

There was nothing comfortable about Hislop's next save however, the Hammers keeper sticking out a flailing leg as he dived the wrong way to turn away Eustace's goalbound shot from Zuniga's cross.

Nigel Winterburn went into the book on 65 minutes as Coventry brought on John Aloisi to replace Zuniga. The subsequent free-kick moved back 10 yards after di Canio protested but Marcus Hall blasted well over from Hadji's lay-off.

The hopes of a comeback from the home side were dashed on 69 minutes as the visitors added a well-worked third goal from the lively Lampard.

Sinclair released Kanoute on the edge of the area and he was allowed to stroll unchallenged to the byline where he pulled the ball back for the England Under-21 international to score the simplest of goals from two yards out and give his uncle Harry a relaxing Saturday evening.