Super Sub Sheri Helps See Off Boro

WEST Ham United earned a well-deserved three points with a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough at Upton Park, substitute Teddy Sheringham and an own goal from Chris Riggott returning Hammers to winning ways.

There was a touch of fortune about the way Hammers won this game though, with a controversial decision by the referee's assistant handing the home side their second goal.

But it was no less than Hammers deserve after putting the memories of Manchester last week behind them with a performance of verve and energy right from the kick-off.

Alan Pardew made two changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Manchester City. One of them was forced, Shaka Hislop replacing Roy Carroll to make his first start since returning to the Club this summer.

The other was recognition for the hard-working Bobby Zamora. A used substitute on no less than six occasions so far this season, the Hammers Play-off Final hero finally earned a start in place of Teddy Sheringham who dropped to the bench.

Goalkeeper Stephen Bywater returned to the bench after being recalled early from his loan spell at Coventry City.

Middlesbrough were captained by Pards' former team-mate Gareth Southgate, while the much-heralded strike-force of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Mark Viduka started on the bench.

The Kick It Out anti-racism campaign was excellently supported by both clubs before kick-off and with the atmosphere inside Upton Park bubbling again for Hammers first home match in a month, both sides made a lively start.

It was Middlesbrough with the early chances, although Gaizka Mendieta's 25 yard free-kick was more embarrasing than threatening after a foul by Danny Gabbidon.

On 14 minutes a far more inviting opportunity fell to the head of Massimo Maccarone but he headed over the bar from just six yards out.

The scare seemed just the tonic for Hammers as Yossi Benayoun went up the other end, weaved inside two Boro defenders before hitting a low shot that was well-blocked by Chris Riggott.

Three minutes later Benayoun went closer still, the ball breaking to him after a fine run by Nigel Reo-Coker and the Israeli star curling a wonderful effort that had Mark Schwarzer beaten only to dip just the wrong side of the post.

Bobby Zamora then had a great chance to justify his selection when an angled pass by Tomas Repka sent him clear, but the Hammers striker shot tamely at Schwarzer with just the Boro goalkeeper to beat.

Middlesbrough were dealt a blow on 25 minutes when skipper Southgate left the field injured to be replaced by Franck Queudrue.

Shortly afterwards Zamora tested Schwarzer with a downward header before his powerful run forced Doriva into a cynical foul just outside the box, which earned the Boro midfielder a yellow card.

With 31 minutes played Hammers thought they had made their dominance count when they had the ball in the net, only to see the effort ruled out for offside. Marlon Harewood's brilliant piece of skill beat Queudrue and his cross was turned home by Reo-Coker at close range only for the linesman's flag to curtail the Upton Park euphoria.

Middlesbrough did begin to re-establish themselves as an attacking force late in the half, Mendieta's dipping 25 yard shot had Hislop worried only to slip just wide of the right-hand post.

Plenty of chances for West Ham, but no goal to show for their efforts as it ended 0-0 at half-time.

HT: 0-0

Just like in the first-half, it was Middlesbrough who were quickest out of the blocks after the break. With only two minutes played Yakubu latched onto Mendieta's pass and his low shot forced Hislop into his first save of the match.

Hammers first chance of the half was again set up by a cross from the excellent Benayoun, but Mullins shot tamely wide from the edge of the box.

The hour mark signalled the entrance of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, replacing the ineffective Maccarone in the Boro attack.

But it was Hammers next to go close, Harewood's power unsettling the Boro defence and helping the ball break for Benayoun. He stabbed the ball goalwards on the angle, but Matthew Bates was on hand to clear at his near post.

West Ham's continuing frustration in front of goal was the signal for Pards to send on Teddy Sheringham in place of Zamora. And within a minute the old master had shown his young colleagues how its done.

Paul Konchesky put in a low cross from the left and the ball arrived at Sheringham's feet 12 yards out. He drilled a low shot through the Boro box and a deflection off Chris Riggott diverted the ball away from Schwarzer and into the bottom left hand corner of the net.

And on 74 minutes a kind piece of officiating put Hammers 2-0 up.

Another good delivery from Konchesky, this time from a free-kick, hit retreating Boro defender Chris Riggott and although Schwarzer made a desperate grab for the ball on the line, the assistant referee on the far side, Ralph Bone, immediately flagged to give the goal.

Replays suggested Mr. Bone had been slightly premature in his assessment, but Hammers were not worried as they now led 2-0 to the delight of 34,612 fans inside the Boleyn Ground.

Hammers might have increased their lead further had Marlon Harewood not fired wildly over the bar when put through by substitute Shaun Newton's touch. Then, from a great cross from Repka, neither Sheringham or Benayoun could apply the finishing touch at the far post.

But Boro were not finished and with four minutes left pulled one back when Franck Queudrue arrived late to head home from a corner and make it 2-1.

Christian Dailly replaced the superb Benayoun in stoppage time as Hammers tried to sew up the three points. Despite a last wave of Boro pressure, some excellent defensive work from Danny Gabbidon ensured there would be no grandstand finish from the visitors.

Instead, it was a mighty three points for Alan Pardew's men as they saw off Middlesbrough 2-1 and continued their excellent home form.