West Ham 0 Tottenham 1

Upton Park welcomed its biggest crowd for more than 17 years but most of the 32,780 present on this mild November afternoon went home disappointed after a 1-0 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur.

On the day the lower tier of the new Dr Martens Stand opened, West Ham suffered their second consecutive home defeat - and they could have no complaints about the outcome.

Apart from Les Ferdinand's 49th minute winner, Spurs also hit the woodwork on four occasions and restricted Hammers to half-chances.

Substitute John Moncur forced a fine save from Neil Sullivan with a ferociously-struck volley in the 70th minute but the Scottish No.1 was otherwise rarely tested.

Hammers made four changes from the side that drew 4-4 at Charlton last Monday. As expected, David James came in to make his Upton Park debut at the expense of Shaka Hislop, while Hayden Foxe also lost his place in a reshaped back four that saw Tomas Repka and Christian Dailly partnered in centre defence, with Sebastien Schemmel and Scott Minto filling the full-backs spots.

The biggest surprise was the absence of hamstring victims Paolo Di Canio and Michael Carrick, who were replaced by Jermain Defoe and Joe Cole respectively.

In fact it was Cole, starting his first match since the defeat at Middlesbrough on September 15, who was Hammers' best player in a first half short on goalmouth action and clear-cut chances.

Playing on the left of a midfield quartet, Cole cut inside to good effect and his clever one-two with Minto four minutes before the break posed a rare threat to the Spurs' goal, until Minto's cross was diverted behind for a corner.

With just a minute until the interval, West Ham's attack switched to the right flank, where Schemmel and Trevor Sinclair carved an opening. Sinclair swung his cross onto the head of Don Hutchison, but Sullivan gathered the looping ball.

It was Spurs, though, who went closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half. Teddy Sheringham found himself unmarked when the ball fell to his feet just inside the penalty area but his searing left-foot drive rapped the crossbar.

The post looked to have saved Hammers again four minutes into the second half, when Simon Davies crossed from the right, Gus Poyet headed the ball down towards goal and James brilliantly scooped the effort against his right-hand post - but there was Ferdinand to nudge the ball over the line.

Poyet and Sinclair collided in the goalmouth melee and the re-start was delayed four minutes while the concussed Uruguayan staggered around the penalty area before finally being ushered to the dressing room, where he remained.

Lomas, starting his first match since last January, also left the field, battle-weary, to be replaced by the rampaging Moncur but it was Poyet's replacement, Oyvind Leonhardsen, who made the impact. His drive from outside the box rattled the inside of James' left upright and bounced to safety.

Sheringham, always in space and linking the play well in a Spurs side that also switched to 4-4-2 in the absence of Mauricio Taricco, was foiled by the other post just minutes later as the visitors threatened to seal the three points.

It wasn't all one-way traffic, though. Defoe and Sinclair both found themselves in promising positions by the right bye-line but wasted their crosses, while Hutchison's low drive from distance forced Sullivan into a low save. The crowd held its breath when Defoe picked out Paul Kitson who made a fine diagonal run to receive his pass, but his first time shot went a yard wide of the far post. 'Kits' couldn't have known that the linesman on the far side had already flagged for offside.

While James enjoyed a solid, commanding debut and twice showed his authority in the box by diving to grab dangerous left wing crosses from Christian Ziege, Cole was undoubtedly Hammers' top player. Despite visibly tiring, he kept going to delight the fans with some flashes of typical skill and, at times, took on the white shirts single-handedly.

On one such occasion, Cole burst past two Spurs defenders and was approaching the penalty area when he was cynically scythed down by Steffen Freund. The German deserved his booking but it was very harsh of referee David Elleray to show a yellow card, too, to Cole for his understandable reaction to the foul.

There was no disputing, though, that Moncur would be booked for an unnecessary touchline lunge on Darren Anderton. It was the midfielder's fifth yellow card of the season which will lead to a one-game suspension.

So while Spurs leapt four places to sixth in the table, Hammers finished the day still in 15th place and just five points clear of the bottom three. This was no disgrace, though, and Glenn Roeder will fancy his team's chances at Sunderland next Saturday if Di Canio, Carrick and the other hamstring victim, Fredi Kanoute, declare themselves fit to return.


6 - Kitson's volley from the edge of the box is deflected behind for a corner.

10 - Ferdinand's flick-on finds Poyet on the edge of the box, but the Uruguyan fires high over the bar.

11 - A dangerous low cross from Ziege is superbly collected by James at the feet of Sheringham.

18 - Another fierce cross from Ziege is punched out by James and then cleared altogether by Cole before Davies can pounce.

22 -From a Lomas long throw, Sinclair sees his drive blocked before Hutchison's effort is cleared for a corner.

34 - James' huge drop-kick almost sets Sinclair free but King clears at the last moment.

39 - Defoe's shot from the edge of the box is blocked and the England under-21 striker's claims for a penalty are then waved away as he goes down under the challenge of Richards.

41 - A fantastic move down the left sees Minto and Cole combine, before Minto's dangerous cross is headed out for a corner by King.

44 - The attack switches to the right this time, as Schemmel feeds Sinclair, whose cross is met by Hutchison. His header is saved comfortably by Sullivan.

45 - Ferdinand's flick-on finds Sheringham in space and the England striker crashes in a left-footed shot that beats James but hits the crossbar and rebounds out.

Added time: 1 minute.

Half-time: West Ham United 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0.

Second Half:

46 - A clever chip from Kitson finds Sinclair in the box, but Trevor chooses to head the ball rather than attempt to control it and the ball drops tamely to Sullivan.

47 - Defoe races down the right and cuts into the box but sends in a low cross along the six-yard box that eludes the onrushing Kitson and Cole.

49 - GOAL. Tottenham snatch an opener as Davies' right-wing cross is met by Poyet, whose diving header is saved brilliantly by James. However, Ferdinand is on hand to smash home the loose ball. Chaos then ensues, as Poyet - clearly concussed after clashing heads with Sinclair - refuses to be substituted before finally being persuaded to leave the field. Sinclair temporarily leaves the field to be treated for his head wound. West Ham 0 Tottenham 1.

52 - Substitution for West Ham, Moncur replaces Lomas. Substitution for Spurs, Leonhardsen replaces Poyet.

57 - Ferdinand's flick releases Leonhardsen and the Norwegian fires in a blistering right foot shot that crashes against the post and away to safety.

61 - Sinclair cleverly turns Ziege on the right wing but then chooses the wrong option with his cut-back and the ball is cleared by a defender.

65 - After Defoe battles bravely on the edge of the area, Hutchison's stinging low shot is well held by Sullivan.

71 - Schemmel's cross is cushioned by Hutchison into the path of Moncur, who almost scores a dream goal against his old club with a fierce shot that is tipped over by Sullivan.

74 - The woodwork once again saves the Hammers, as Sheringham latches on to a loose ball in the box and curls in a shot that rebounds off the upright to Anderton, whose weak volley is then flicked wide by Sheringham again.

80 - Cole's trickery on the right creates some space but his deep cross is just too deep in the end for Kitson.

83 - Freund booked for foul on Cole, Cole booked for retaliation.

84 - Moncur booked for foul on Anderton.

86 - Sinclair's quickly taken free-kick is easily held by Sullivan.

Added time: 4 minutes.

90 - Perry booked for foul on Sinclair.

90 - Kitson controls the ball on the edge of the area after good work by Defoe and lays a pass to Sinclair, whose shot flies just over the bar.

Full-time: West Ham United 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1.

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