Teddy Keeps Hammers On Track

TEDDY Sheringham's 19th goal of the season has earned West Ham United a battling 1-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor.

The striker left it late to keep Hammers play-off push on track, scoring with seven minutes left to earn West Ham another vital three points.

After the 2-1 win at Wigan, Alan Pardew kept faith with the team that impressed at the JJB Stadium. Jimmy Walker kept his place in goal ahead of Stephen Bywater, while Mark Noble was preferred to Matty Etherington on the left of midfield.

West Ham started the game well and were the first to pressure when Marlon Harewood powered between Mo Camara and John McGreal but over-hit his cross.

The tempo was quick right from the kick-off, and at the other end Ade Akinbiyi broke free in the box but hesitated, allowing Anton Ferdiand to make a well-timed tackle.

With nine minutes gone the lively Harewood threatened again, his 20 yard shot cannoning off McGreal and looping up awkwardly for Clarets goalkeeper Danny Coyne, who was forced to tip the ball over.

By the quarter hour mark Hammers had settled into their rhythm, with Sheringham finding plenty of space to orchestrate their attacking movement. The 39-year-old had a great chance after 16 minutes, receiving Harewood's chest down and hitting a rasping volley that flew just over Coyne's crossbar.

Five minutes later Harewood was too strong for McGreal's tackle, breaking into the box and shooting across Coyne, who got a hand to the ball and helped it around the post.

In defence, Elliott Ward and Anton Ferdinand coped easily with the Burnley attack. It was 26 minutes before the home side had an effort on goal to cheer, Jimmy Walker making an easy claim from Graham Branch's downward header.

On the half hour, Nigel Reo-Coker was high and wide with a shot from all of 30 yards, but Alan Pardew's side continued to dominate proceedings.

A rare moment of respite for Burnley came from the forward play of Dean Bowditch and it was his running that forced Hayden Mullins into the touchline body-check that earned the midfielder a booking.

As the first-half drew to a close the home side began to rise to the crowd's expectation. In the 39th minute Akinbiyi's close control set-up a shooting chance for Bowditch, only a magnificent block by Ward keeping Walker redundant.

Then, a misjudgement by the big defender let Akinbiyi in, but the striker fired wide with only Walker to beat.

Dropping deep, Sheringham continued to probe the Burnley defence, but not even the former England star's passing could find a way through, and the first-half ended 0-0.

HT: 0-0

The atmosphere had been cranked up a notch for the start of the second-half, and both teams responded.

Burnley showed a lot more purpose in their play, while Sheringham should have done better with a dead-centre 25 yard free-kick that was hit straight into the wall.

Chances were still at a premium, but the game was beginning to open up. Gary Cahill reaped the benefits quite literally, bursting through the middle before Ferdinand slid in to tackle, while at the other end Harewood also broke through, but dragged his shot well wide.

With 70 minutes gone Mo Camara caused panic in the West Ham ranks, stealing in between Tomas Repka and Shaun Newton on the left and surging into the box. Thankfully for the Hammers the cut-back was cleared by Nigel Reo-Coker.

Two minutes later Sheringham came close to giving Alan Pardew's team the lead. Again Burnley allowed him space outside the box, and Sheringham didn't need a second invitation, unleashing a curling drive that had Coyne beaten had it not dipped just wide.

Moments later Sheringham was inches away again, heading narrowly over from Mark Noble's corner. It would be Noble's last involvement in the game, making way for Matty Etherington with 15 minutes left. The second half of Alan Pardew's double substitution saw Carl Fletcher come on for Hayden Mullins.

But it was Burnley who had the next good chance, Dean Bowditch fluffing his lines from 12 yards out after Akinbiyi had put him through.

Then, with seven minutes left, West Ham got the breakthrough their dominance deserved. A mistake in the Burnley defence presented Harewood with a clear run on goal. He rounded Coyne, but with the angle against him squared to Sheringham, who made no mistake slotting home from close range with the 'keeper already beaten.

West Ham's travelling faithful, voicing their support throughout, were sent into raptures, as Hammers set about securing their second win in a week.

They almost sealed the points in the 89th minute when Fletcher's header forced Coyne to tip the ball athletically over the bar.

Despite four added minutes Hammers never looked like surrendering the lead and held on to earn a vital 1-0 win and make it six points from two games on the North West leg of a promotion push that is now very much alive and kicking.