Middlesbrough 2 West Ham 0

Seven and a half hours without a goal, their previously solid defence guilty of two bad errors and new signing Tomas Repka sent off on his debut for the club, this was a dismally grey afternoon on Teeside.

Middlesbrough's first points of the season saw them climb out of the bottom three and condemn woeful West Ham to rock bottom with a 2-0 victory they had to do so little to achieve.

Basic blunders by goalkeeper Shaka Hislop and defender Rigobert Song in a 10 minute first half spell were enough to crush the spirit of an unbalanced visiting side - still missing first choice strikers Fredi Kanoute and Paolo Di Canio and with Joe Cole still coming to terms with his new left-sided role.

In place of the missing strikers, manager Glenn Roeder tried three different permutations. The unsettled Trevor Sinclair and Don Hutchison began as the front pairing, Jermain Defoe came on at half-time to partner Hutch and then Svetoslav Todorov joined Defoe in attack as the game slipped away.

Although there was a little more threat after the interval, Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer still had only one tame effort to save - a Cole header - in 90 minutes.

With former Hammer Paul Ince bossing central midfield at the expense of a subdued Michael Carrick and John Moncur, Boro also had the lion's share of possession without doing much to impress.

Repka could not have envisaged a more forgettable debut. The Czech Republic international, partnering Christian Dailly in central defence, looked solid and well-organised but he will have to adapt quickly to more officious refereeing than perhaps he has been used to in Serie A.

Booked for preventing a quick Boro free-kick after a foul on Dean Windass, Repka saw red 12 minutes from time when he pulled back the same Boro player as he threatened to run through on goal midway in the Hammers' half.


7 - Ince fires just over from the edge of the penalty area.

22 - New signing Tomas Repka booked for unsporting behaviour - kicking the ball away after a foul on Windass.

23 - Hislop dives low to save Ince's free-kick.

26 - Hammers' best move of the half. Cole and Sinclair play a one-two on the right and, after Sinclair gets free, his low cross towards Hutchison at the far post is cut out by Ehiogu.

31 - Ince pumps a high and hopeful ball from the right to the edge of the box. Hislop inexplicably dashes off his line to meet the ball, but Deane gets there first to head into the empty net. Middlesbrough 1 West Ham 0.

41 - Song allows the ball to bounce on the edge of the Hammers' area, then mis-heads his attempted back-pass towards Hislop, leaving Johnston to lob over Shaka and inside the far post for his first goal for Boro. Middlesbrough 2 West Ham 0.

42 - Winterburn booked for foul on Greening.

43 - Carrick booked for dissent.

44 - Ehiogu gets free of song in the box but his downward header bounces into the turf and just over the bar.

Half-time: Middlesbrough 2 West Ham 0.

Second half:

47 - Schemmel's dangerous right wing cross is scooped over the bar by a stretching Hutchison from seven yards out.

51 - Hutchison, showing trickery on the right, makes space for the cross, which eludes Defoe by inches.

66 - Windass booked for diving after a Schemmel challenge in the penalty area.

75 - Schwarzer makes his first save of the game, stooping to easily gather Cole's downward header following a Winterburn cross.

78 - Repka sent off following a second bookable offence, having tugged back Windass.

79 - Sinclair gets to the byline to cross for Todorov, who volleys high over.

Full-time: Middlesbrough 2 West Ham 0.


by Tony McDonald