Leeds Late-show Robs Hammers

WEST Ham United have gone down 2-1 to Leeds at Elland Road, Shaun Derry's last gasp winner snatching the points away from Alan Pardew's men.

Rob Hulse's goal gave Leeds the advantage, but after Gavin Williams' first goal in the claret and blue had drawn Hammers level, they scarcely deserved to leave Elland Road with nothing.

Alan Pardew made two changes from the side that won 1-0 at Gillingham, Teddy Sheringham returning to replace Bobby Zamora in attack and Gavin Williams coming in to give the Hammers more width on the right hand side, with Nigel Reo-Coker dropping to the bench.

For Leeds, manager Kevin Blackwell recalled former Hammer Matthew Kilgallon in place of Clarke Carlisle while Simon Walton came in for Jermaine Wright.

Two years ago this would have been a Premiership fixture, and from the atmosphere inside Elland Road you would have been forgiven for thinking it still was.

A bright start by the home side saw Rob Hulse fire a scorching volley over Stephen Bywater's crossbar with only six minutes played, West Ham's only response a spooned effort by Williams that barely reached Neil Sullivan in the Leeds goal.

Referee Andy Hill was lenient to allow Leeds midfielder Simon Walton to escape without a booking for a foul on Malky Mackay, but was equally kind to let Tomas Repka off without a caution just a minute later.

Despite both sides showing an impressive amount of endeavour, there had been few clear-cut chances as the game approached its half-hour mark. For all the home side's possession, they had only succeeded in raining a succession of right-wing crosses into the Hammers box, which had all been comfortably dealt with.

Striker Rob Hulse was booked after 35 minutes for clattering into the back of Repka, as Leeds' frustration at their lack of opportunities began to show.

With 38 minutes gone Gavin Williams had West Ham's first genuine effort at goal, cutting in from the right before unleashing a dipping drive that arced just over Sullivan's goal.

At the other end, David Healey's trickling free-kick ran loose in the box and Bywater did well to smother under pressure from Hulse.

Leeds certainly enjoyed the better of the attacking pressure in the first-half, but Bywater had hardly broken sweat as the teams left the field still deadlocked at 0-0.

HT: 0-0


Just before the half-time whistle the impressive Anton Ferdinand limped off the field, and was replaced for the second-half by Hayden Mullins.

His assurance was immediately missed and five minutes after the restart, Leeds took the lead. Aaron Lennon burst away down the right and crossed towards Rob Hulse, who bustled across Mackay and volleyed powerfully beyond Bywater and put the home side 1-0 up.

Hammers pushed forward in search of a response and almost found one when Gavin Williams struck a sweet low volley from the edge of the area that deceived Sullivan before bouncing back off the post.

Sean Gregan's challenge on Marlon Harewood sparked a mini-brawl that took several minutes to defuse, and when Teddy Sheringham did finally take his free-kick it deflected tamely through to Sullivan off the defensive wall.

But there was nothing tame about West Ham United's 68th minute equaliser. Fitting that Gavin Williams, the player who had registered almost all Hammers goal attempts so far, should score it. Repka swung in a cross from the right that Sheringham touched back on his chest to Williams, whose instinctive volley took a deflection as it beat Neil Sullivan.

Back on level terms, suddenly it was the visitors that were enjoying all the attacking momentum.

With 73 minutes gone Williams was again causing problems, jinking his way into the Leeds penalty area only to be halted by a fine tackle from Simon Walton. Penalty claims from the mass of West Ham fans behind the goal were unfounded.

Into the last 10 minutes and an intricate exchange of positions between Harewood and Matty Etherington allowed the former to back heel to the latter, but Etherington's shot bent well wide.

The left-midfielder went much closer with a free-kick two minutes later, his curling 25 yard effort hammering against the outside of the post before bouncing out for a goal-kick.

Etherington, playing just his second game after returning from a groin injury, was replaced by Chris Cohen on 83 minutes.

Alan Pardew's men looked certain to leave Elland Road with at least a point, after dominating the second-half proceedings. But they were dealt a cruel sucker-punch with just four minutes remaining.

David Healey threaded a pass to Shaun Derry, and the new signing from Crystal Palace swerved outside Carl Fletcher before slotting the ball past Bywater.

It was a cruel blow for the Hammers, but they fought back gamely in the dying minutes.

Bobby Zamora replaced Chris Powell late on, and his presence almost fashioned a chance, but the ball just wouldn't drop for him in the penalty area as the home defenders swarmed around him.

The final whistle was greeted with a deafening roar by the 34,115 fans inside Elland Road, but the atmosphere inside the visiting dressing room was anything but loud as the Hammers contemplated an end to their three game winning streak and a defeat that they did not deserve.