Matthew And The Match Ball

Matthew Etherington is delighted to have notched his first hat trick - but insists he should score more regularly.

His three goals helped West Ham on their way to a 5-0 win over Wimbledon on Tuesday, and he says:

"It was a brilliant night and we got the three points so I am absolutely delighted.

"It was my first hat trick and I have been frustrated this year that I haven't scored as many goals as I think I should have - but tonight has helped me on my way, definitely.

"I have been playing well but not scoring goals has probably been the only negative side, so I am pleased to have helped the team out tonight; we are in third place now, and going the right way."

Matthew returned to the side after a one match suspension for the sending off at Norwich - the heinous crime of not placing the ball entirely inside the quadrant at a corner being deemed enough for him to be sent for an early bath at Norwich recently - and he admits:

"I was frustrated being out on Saturday, definitely, and it was a frustrating game to watch - they put 10 men behind the ball and it was just one of those games."

But did the break do him good?

"Maybe it did, maybe it didn't," he shrugs.

Describing his trio of goals, he says:

"The first one was a tight angle and I just concentrated on hitting the target, and the second one was a great ball by Micky Carrick which I put away nicely as well.

"The third was probably the best of the three and I was pleased with that one; I was not conscious of going for the hat trick but I thought I would get another chance because we were playing well, full of confidence, and creating chances.

"So I thought there might be a chance of me getting a third, and when I did I was over the moon.

"The players have all signed the match ball and gave me a bit of stick as well!"

West Ham are level on goal difference - but seven points behind - West Brom now, but had the hard working David Connolly not had a goal chalked off at the end after former West Ham keeper Stephen Banks spilled Matthew's right foot shot towards the end, it would have been one better.

"He was unlucky, I don't think it was offside, but it is one of those things," says Matthew.

He firmly believes that West Ham can still go up automatically and explains:

"Everyone beats everyone in this division and we have a massive game on Saturday.

"If we put a run together I think we can definitely nick a spot.

"If we don't go up this year I am sure we will be there next year.

"We are not winning enough games but if we put a run together we can be up there and it is the best time to make a surge."

Matthew has really blossomed since leaving Spurs, and explains:

"I have said all along that first team football is just what I need - I am nearly 23 and I wanted to be playing first team football.

"I am doing that now and I think I am becoming a better player for that.

"I am loving my football at West Ham, it is a great club to be at, and I am really pleased.

"At Tottenham I wasn't getting the chance and I was very frustrated; but it is one of those things that happens in football sometimes, you get shut out and you have got to get on with it.

"But it has happened in the early part of my career and hopefully I can go on to even better things now."

West Ham have already surpassed a record of 10 league games away without defeat set in 1923 and need two more games to equal the 15 league AND cup record consecutive sequence of travelling without losing.

But maintaining that at Sunderland will be a tall order, and Matthew adds:

"It is a massive game for us and if we get three points up there it will be 'game on' - but it is a tough game and if we draw it is still a good result.

"And we have got some 'easier' home games coming up - it is important we win them."