Match Report - Blackburn


Two goals either side of the break earned Hammers a deserved 4-2 victory over Blackburn Rovers and secured our place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

After David Bentley had given the visitors a first-minute lead, Teddy Sheringham's penalty and a Matthew Etherington strike turned the tie around, before a Zurab Khizanishvili own goal and Bobby Zamora's tap-in doubled our tally in the second half.

Alan Pardew made three changes to his team following Monday night's win against Fulham. Goalkeeper Roy Carroll missed out after a recurrence of his back injury and was replaced by Shaka Hislop, while Christian Dailly came in at right-back for the now-departed Tomas Repka. Marlon Harewood was rested after playing in every league and cup match this season, meaning that Sheringham made his first start since November after recovering from a calf injury.

It didn't take long before the first goal of the afternoon arrived...just 26 seconds to be precise. After Hammers had kicked-off, possession was won by Steven Reid, and the Rovers midfielder surged upfield before slipping a pass to Kuqi, whose low cross from the right evaded Shaka Hislop and was touched in on the line by Bentley.

The hosts responded well to the early setback, and Mullins saw a fierce drive from the edge of the penalty area well saved by Brad Friedel, while Etherington almost caught out the Rovers' defence when he latched on to a soft back-pass, but the presence of Friedel forced him too wide.

On 28 minutes, Hammers had a decent penalty shout turned down when Benayoun's cross from the right appeared to be blocked by the outstretched arm of Khizanishvili. However, just four minutes later, referee Martin Atkinson did point to the spot when Benayoun's flick-on found Zamora, who was tugged back by the same culprit.

Up stepped the returning Sheringham to make no mistake with a Paolo Di Canio-style chip that left the grounded Friedel clutching at thin air.

Hammers were now firmly in control and it was no real surprise when the tie was turned on its head just four minutes later, with a goal straight out of the Upton Park academy textbook.

Benayoun's clever pass released Zamora, who beat one defender before slipping the ball into the path of the advancing Etherington, who netted with a cool finish from 12 yards out for his first goal since the opening day of the season win against Rovers.

The visitors rallied at the end of the half and forced a number of corners, one of which was met by the powerful head of Mokoena, who saw his effort superbly tipped round the post by Hislop, but Hammers held firm to go in at the break holding on to a now familiar 2-1 lead.

Having conceded early in the second half against Fulham on Monday, Alan Pardew's men came out after the interval determined not to let their opponents back into the game, and might have extended their advantage straight away when Zamora raced clear, but the striker dragged his shot well wide.

However, the 23,700 crowd didn't have to wait much longer for an all-important third. Just before the hour mark, Sheringham found Konchesky, whose fierce low cross was turned into his own net by the hapless Khizanishvili.

The two-goal advantage appeared to put Hammers firmly in the driving seat but, just five minutes later, it was reduced to one again, as Rovers right-back Lucas Neill played a neat one-two with Pedersen and, with space in front of him, advanced forward to curl a fine effort beyond the dive of Hislop.

On 70 minutes, Sheringham departed to rapturous applause from the Upton Park faithful, to be replaced by Marlon Harewood who, with his first touch of the game, produced the shot that led to Hammers claiming their fourth.

Picking up a loose ball some 25 yards out, his left-foot strike was only parried by Friedel, and Zamora was on hand to slam home his third goal in four games.

A floodlight failure at the Bobby Moore stand end briefly threatened to throw a spanner in the works for the hosts, but the Boleyn Ground electricians soon brightened up proceedings again, and Hammers were on their way to the fifth round.

Pards introduced Yaniv Katan and Carl Fletcher as late substitutes for Bobby Zamora and Yossi Benayoun, and the Hammers boss was a satisfied man as the full-time whistle blew to signal a fourth successive victory.