WEST Ham United went down 1-0 to Millwall in a closely fought London derby at the Den.
Alan Pardew made three changes from the team that lost to Brighton. New signings Mauricio Taricco and Darren Powell both made their West Ham debuts, replacing Hayden Mullins and Calum Davenport in defence. The other change saw fit-again Nigel Reo-Coker recalled in place of Don Hutchison, who was originally name as a substitute, but picked up an injury in the warm-up and had to be replaced by youngster Mark Noble.
Roared on by a passionate crowd at the Den, the opening exchanges were fiercely competitive, with tackles flying in thick and fast from both teams. Hammers first real chance came in the 10th minute when Steve Lomas' shot from the edge of the area deflected harmlessly into the arms of Lions goalkeeper Graham Stack.
The Den buzzed with tension throughout the half, and the fiery atmosphere out on the pitch threatened to explode when Reo-Coker and Millwall Player/Manager Dennis Wise clashed off the ball and both earned a booking. The home side went close to opening the scoring soon after, when Scott Dobie just failed to connect with Dave Livermore's cross.
On 28 minutes the hard-working Hammers were dealt a major blow when debutant Taricco went off injured, replaced by Anton Ferdinand at right-back.
Marlon Harewood fashioned a great chance for the visitors on 34 minutes when his shot on the run was deflected across goal and just wide of Stack's far post. The lone West Ham front-man, aided by the advanced running of Reo-Coker, worked tirelessly against a strong Millwall defence, but just couldn't find a route to goal.
The half ended with a chance for Millwall striker Barry Hayles, but his tame shot was gathered easily by Hammers goalkeeper Stephen Bywater.
The half-time break did little to dampen the passion and intensity inside the Den. Tomas Repka nearly fell victim to the growing tension when he reacted angrily to referee Peter Walton's free-kick decision and was sheperded away from an angry altercation with the official, before receiving a yellow card.
Both sides then squandered headed chances, Scott Dobie putting his effort over the bar, while Reo-Coker's glancing effort from Lomas' cross flashed wide of the post.
In the 60th minute West Ham came within a whisker of taking the lead when Harewood's bustling run ended with a low cross that was somehow deflected over the bar by the Millwall defence.
But just three minutes later the day turned sour for Harewood. Booked for a clumsy challenge on Kevin Muscat in the 57th minute, Harewood raced into the area and went down under pressure from the Millwall defence. Referee Walton was quick to judge that the Hammers striker had dived, and Harewood was sent-off for a second bookable offence.
Bobby Zamora replaced Luke Chadwick on 66 minutes and was soon into the action, latching onto Matty Etherington's cross. But his back-heel to the onrushing Reo-Coker was scrambled clear by the Lions defence.
New-boy Darren Powell, playing alongside Tomas Repka in central defence, then had to be on his toes to keep the scores level, hooking Dobie's goal-bound header against the bar and clearing at the second attempt.
But, with 77 minutes gone, Milwall did take the lead. Muscat's deep cross from the right found Danny Dichio arriving at the far post, and the Millwall striker rose to head past Bywater into the bottom corner of the net.
In the last 10 minutes The Hammers threw men forward in search of an equaliser. Steve Lomas headed straight at Stack from
Etherington's far post cross, but try as they might, Alan Pardew's men could not find a way through the Lions defence.
WHU: Bywater; Taricco (Ferdinand 28), D. Powell, Repka, C. Powell, Chadwick (Zamora 66), Lomas, Fletcher, Reo-Coker, Harewood, Etherington. Subs Unused: Walker (GK), Rebrov, Noble.