Manchester City V West Ham

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Match Report
Saturday 28th April 2001
Maine Road
Attendance: 33,737
Referee: Peter Jones

In a thrilling encounter at Maine Road, West Ham somehow came away with nothing despite launching a second half bombardment on the Manchester City goal.

A solitary 24th minute strike from Shaun Goater proved enough for the home side, whose Premiership life still clings by a thread. Joe Royle's men now need to win their remaining two matches to stand a chance of avoiding relegation.

More significantly, the result leaves the Hammers precariously close to the drop zone, although defeats for Coventry City, Derby County and Middlesbrough mean that Harry Redknapp's men still only need one point to be mathematically sure of survival.

That point should have been secured against City, who had keeper Carlo Nash, plenty of luck and some woeful finishing to thank for the fact that they live to fight another day.

The Hammers boss was understandably baffled as he looked back over an amazing second half, in which his side threw everything but the kitchen sink at the City goal in an attempt to draw level.

Said H: "How we lost that game today I will never know. It was amazing, the second half was just incredible and I can't believe that we didn't score.

"We need a point to put the whole thing to bed and it would have been nice to have finished it today. But that's football and we've got to make sure we get something out of the last two games."

Bulgarian striker Svetoslav Todorov will certainly be welcomed back by City fans if they manage to stay up this season after he spurned a host of glorious second half chances - the most glaring of which came just seconds from the end, when Paolo Di Canio's shot was parried by Nash to the feet of Toddy just three yards out. With the goal at his mercy though, the 22-year-old somehow ballooned the ball over the bar.

That summed up the afternoon for the Hammers and their travelling fans, while Todorov look simply exasperated at the final whistle after enduring a nightmare in front of goal.

A 42nd minute substitution for the injured Nigel Winterburn - who limped off with a hamstring strain - Todorov was presented with his first real chance 14 minutes into the second half, when he latched on to a clearance from Igor Stimac and outpaced Steve Howey but saw his shot saved by the legs of Nash.

10 minutes later, Joe Cole's floated cross found the Bulgarian in space on the edge of the six-yard box and he chested the ball up before firing a point-blank volley that was amazingly blocked by Nash.

Cole, Stimac and Ian Pearce all had efforts cleared off the line, while Stuart Pearce's effort direct from a corner was tipped over and Kaba Diawara volleyed wide from eight yards out.

The ball did end up in the home side's net on one occasion, when Todorov headed in a Stuart Pearce corner at the far post, but referee Peter Jones inexplicably disallowed the effort for a foul by Ian Pearce on Nash, although TV replays confirmed that the Hammers defender had simply stood still in the six-yard box.

Harry said: "It was a good goal - the keeper ran into Ian Pearce and I don't know why the referee gave the foul. But we missed a great chance at the end and I don't know how the keeper saved so many.

"He seemed to come out of the clouds to save the volley from Todorov."

"I couldn't fault the effort of the team in the second half though and if they show the same attitude next week against Southampton, we'll be okay."

The Hammers were certainly a different team in the second half, after a relatively dour first 45 minutes that City controlled.

After Michael Carrick had seen his 35-yard effort scrape the foot of the post in the fifth minute, the hosts sparked into life and it was no surprise when they opened the scoring after 24 minutes.

Paul Dickov's neat pass on the right released Haaland, who sent in a low cross behind the back-tracking defence and the ball fell to Bermudan striker Goater, whose tame shot was heading safely into the arms of Shaka Hislop until Ian Pearce's outstretched leg deflected the ball into the opposite corner of the net.

City had chances to extend their lead when Dickov was allowed time and space to fire in a shot that was cleared by Ian Pearce, Danny Tiatto went close with a fierce shot that shaved the post and Danny Granville saw his firm header tipped over by Hislop in first half injury time.

Carrick was forced to make a goal-line clearance early in the second half, while Hislop scrambled Haaland's shot away, and after that it was one-way traffic.

The breakthrough just wouldn't come though and the biting of fingernails will continue at Upton Park for at least another week.

Harry admitted: "Of course I worry about the situation, I wouldn't be human if I didn't. But we can't rely on other teams to keep us up, we need to make sure we get something against Southampton next week."

The Hammers boss also admitted he would still be without Frank Lampard and Frederic Kanoute for the visit of the Saints. "Frank is under the surgeon's knife at this very moment and won't be back until the start of next season, while I don't think Fredi will be ready for the game next week.