West Ham 1 Leicester City 0

No wonder Glenn Roeder turned down Manchester United's initial bid for unsettled Paolo Di Canio.

As if we needed any further proof of the Italian playmaker's value to West Ham, he provided it with the 35th minute winner against relegation candidates Leicester City at chilly Upton Park.

In a poor, scrappy, non-event of a match starved of any real excitement, Di Canio produced a typically sublime moment when he scored with a right-foot volley from a tight angle following Sebastien Schemmel's looping header towards the far post.

Di Canio, who received a warm reception from the crowd of 34,698 on what could prove his Hammers farewell, was determined to remind the home fans of his talent and worth.

He never wasted an opportunity to run at the City defence and it was a mark of his determination to take centre stage that he even found time to assist referee Dermot Gallagher with some impromptu repairs to a piece of loose goal netting in the second half!

Di Canio, wearing a protective bandage on his right hand, crossed for Christian Dailly to head just over the bar early in the second half and would have scored a second himself but for a fine save from Ian Walker after the Hammers' No.10 raced on to Trevor Sinclair's measured through ball.

But Hammers, lacking the spark and invention of recent home performances, spent much of the game in second gear against a Leicester side who were probably the poorest visitors - from an entertainment point of view - seen at Upton Park this season. Even the fans who took up the 'Kids for a Quid' offer might have contemplated a refund.

With Fredi Kanoute ineffective and looking like he was still trying to shrug off the full effects of a recent cold, Roeder sent on Jermain Defoe with 20 minutes to go. But not even the in-form teenager could find an opening, while Joe Cole had the quietest game of his recent fine run.

Although Leicester didn't deserve a point, the fact that Hammers lacked the impetus to add to Di Canio's goal gave them hope in a nervy last 10 minutes for West Ham when they were forced to defend deeply from set pieces and corners. It wasn't until time added on that David James was seriously tested, however, when his opposite number Walker ventured upfield for a corner and dug out a shot that James had to tip over the bar.

With the PA announcer leading an emotional salute to Di Canio at the final whistle - Roeder stayed behind to congratulate his skipper, who was last back into the home dressing room - the fans left wondering if they had seen the final act of one of the Club's all-time favourites...


4 - Di Canio's quick free-kick almost releases Kanoute but Impey is alert to clear the danger.

13 - Rogers' long throw is flicked on by Deane to the far post, where Scowcroft is waiting to head just over.

17 - Confusion between Repka and James almost lets in Akinbiyi and the ball rebounds across the penalty area where Dailly's last-ditch block denies Deane an open goal.

18 - Sinclair's dangerous cross is flicked on by Cole but Hutchison is adjudged to be offside as he slides in at the far post.

25 - Frank Sinclair clears Di Canio's cross, but only to the edge of the area where Moncur is waiting to fire a measured volley that seems destined for the bottom corner until Walker gets across to pull off a fabulous save.

33 - Schemmel's low cross is headed wide by Sinclair from just inside the penalty area.

35 - GOAL! After Cole sees his shot cleared off the line, Schemmel heads back in to the far post, where Di Canio is waiting to stab home with the outside of his right-boot. The Italian then sets off to celebrate, snapping the corner flag-pole in the process! West Ham United 1 Leicester City 0.

Added time: 2 minutes.

Half-time: West Ham United 1 Leicester City 0.

Second half:

47 - Di Canio's defence-splitting pass releases Winterburn on the overlap but the veteran's pull-back eludes both Cole and Kanoute.

53 - Good work from Moncur finds Hutchison who, after first seeing his cross blocked by Sinclair, fires in a left foot cross-shot that flies wide.

55 - From Di Canio's corner, Dailly heads just over the bar.

56 - Chaos in the Hammers' penalty area as Scowcroft first sees his effort palmed away by James and then Deane nods down for Wise, who wriggles through and goes down under a challenge from Repka. Referee Gallagher waves away claims for a penalty.

58 - Sinclair's inch-perfect pass releases Di Canio, who sees his left-foot shot blocked by Walker.

62 - Davidson booked for foul on Di Canio.

64 - Substitution for Leicester City, Marshall replaces Rogers.

68 - Di Canio's hooked pass finds Kanoute in the area but, rather than fire in a left foot volley, the Frenchman tries to turn and sees the ball cleared by Laursen.

69 - Savage goes down in the area under a challenge from Cole but Gallagher again turns down the Leicester appeals for a spot-kick.

71 - Substitution for West Ham, Defoe replaces Kanoute.

78 - After excellent chasing by Winterburn in the centre of the field, Di Canio's searching pass picks out Moncur, who turns Impey before firing high and wide. 

79 - With Di Canio and Defoe screaming for an obvious through ball, Hutchison instead elects to pick out Cole, whose curling shot from the edge of the area is no trouble for Walker.

84 - Substitution for Leicester, Stevenson replaces Akinbiyi.

85 - Substitution for West Ham, Foxe replaces Moncur.

89 - Dailly booked for foul on Savage.

Added time: 4 minutes.

90 - Savage booked for foul on Winterburn.

Full time: West Ham United 1 Leicester City 0.