Pards Lifts The Tempo

ALAN Pardew was delighted with the way his team lifted the atmosphere inside Upton Park, as a storming second-half performance secured a 3-0 win over Coventry and made it three consecutive wins for the Hammers.

After a first-half display that lacked punch, West Ham raised the stakes in the second-half and got their reward with an own goal from Richard Shaw added to by Teddy Sheringham's penalty and a Bobby Zamora header.

"We passed the ball well in the first-half without really hurting Coventry," admitted Pards. "The news that Reading had won at Sunderland made it a funny atmosphere before the game, and we knew at half-time that we had to lift Upton Park and really get the crowd going.

"I thought we did that in the second-half. We raised the tempo, got at them quicker and created enough chances to deserve the 3-0 win.

"A lot of the chances seem to fall on Marlon Harewood's head, and maybe a bit of heading practice will be in order next week. But it was a strong second-half performance and a good three points."

The introduction of winger Matty Etherington at half-time swung the match in West Ham's favour. The 24-year-old reminded fans why they voted him Hammer of the Year last season, giving a blistering display, which included a hand in all three goals.

"Matty did terrific and he changed the game for us in the second-half," enthused Pards. "Matty will be the first to admit that he hasn't hit the heights of last season.

"He's a big player in this division to leave on the subs bench. But he came on and showed what he can do. Now he's knocking on my door for a regular place in the team, as a player of his ability should be.

"I brought Hayden Mullins off because I thought Mark Noble could offer us a bit more of an attacking option in centre-midfield. Mark is a real talent, but he hasn't really developed physically yet and it's not easy for him to play in the centre.

"But it's his best position and we took a gamble on him because we knew he'd give us a more offensive look.

"To be fair to Hayden, I thought he did okay against Coventry and he was terrific for us in the two away games. But Matty injected some creativity into the team, and I think that's what we needed."

Despite nine points out of three games, Hammers are yet to break back into the Play-off places owing to some good form from Preston, Reading and Derby. But Pards insisted it is the points total that matters right now, which his team will be looking to bolster further at home to Millwall on Saturday.

"The League sorts itself out," he said. "We just need to concentrate on our own points total and making sure that we get as many points wrapped up as possible.

"At the moment, it looks like being four teams from six that will make the Play-offs. Ipswich or Wigan will take third place, but the other three places are there to be had and that fourth spot remains our target.

"The teams around us are in good form at the moment, but they can't all win every week and we've got to make sure we are there to capitalise on any mistakes."

After the Coventry match, Pards bumped into the game's opening scorer, Richard Shaw, an old team-mate of his from Crystal Palace. No doubt the Hammers boss was grateful for the helping head of the Sky Blues defender?

"I thanked him for the goal afterwards," joked Alan. "Obviously he wasn't too pleased, and I feel for him because he's an old colleague of mine and we shared some great times at Palace.

"I'm just glad he's still got that spider on his hair, because it slid off the old barnet and gave the goalkeeper no chance!"