Hammers Off To Fine Start In Falkenbergs

HAMMERS kicked off their pre-season campaign in perfect style against Falkenbergs FF in Sweden, Marlon Harewood's brace and Bobby Zamora's late strike earning Alan Pardew's team a 3-1 win.

For his first line-up of the season Pards named two trialists in huge Slovakian goalkeeper Juraj Bucek and Czech striker Petr Mikolanda. Also included for their first outings in the claret and blue were new signings Paul Konchesky from Charlton and Danny Gabbidon and James Collins from Cardiff.

Captain Christian Dailly partnered Hayden Mullins in centre-midfield, with Gavin Williams and Luke Chadwick on the flanks. The opposition were Swedish First Division side Falkenbergs FF, located in the southern costal town of Falkenbergs 60 miles outside Gothenburg. Promoted to the top-flight two seasons ago, the Club are lying eighth in the Swedish First Division with the campaign currently on a mid-season break.

It wasn't long before West Ham were in their stride. With no more than a minute gone Mullins' weighted ball over the top released Marlon Harewood, but the striker shot wide with only goalkeeper Ambjorn Lennartsson to beat.

Backed by an enthusiastic crowd, boasting far more Hammers fans than it did home supporters, West Ham began to press. A fine piece of skill from Luke Chadwick took him past right-back Marcus Persson, but his shot was comfortably saved.

But on 27 minutes Hammers were dealt a blow when the dangerous Rodevag twisted away from Elliott Ward on the edge of the area and fired a low shot past Bucek to put Falkenbergs 1-0 up. West Ham's reply was swift and decisive. On 33 minutes a corner from Paul Konchesky found Collins and he was brought down as he tried to turn and shoot. The resulting penalty was dispatched coolly by Harewood to make it 1-1.

As the half drew to a close, Mikolanda should have scored, but he failed to find the decisive touch from just five yards out after good work from Harewood and Chadwick.

HT: 1-1

Pards kept with the same side for the start of the second-half, but still neither side could set this game alight. Gavin Williams and Christian Dailly certainly tried, but their long-range efforts were both comfortably saved.

Then on 59 minutes Hammers scored a goal of true Premiership quality. Debutant Konchesky whipped in a dangerous cross from the left, which found Marlon Harewood and he buried his second of the night from close range to make it 2-1.

There would be no hat-trick for Harewood however, the striker leaving the field along with Chadwick, Mullins and Mikolanda on 64 minutes to be replaced by Shaun Newton, Carl Fletcher, Bobby Zamora and Teddy Sheringham.

The only booking of the game came with 20 minutes left when Zamora went down in the box, but looking for a penalty the forward was instead shown a yellow card for diving.

Zamora did get his own back with three minutes left though, capitalising on a defensive mistake to round the goalkeeper and slot the ball into an empty net to complete a well-earned 3-1 victory for Alan Pardew's men.

WHU: Bucek; Gabbidon, Konchesky, Mullins (Newton 64), Collins, Ward, Dailly, Williams, Mikolanda (Sheringham 64), Harewood (Zamora 64), Chadwick (Fletcher 64). Subs unused: Etherington, Bywater (GK), Ferdinand, Repka, Reo-Coker.