Hammers too strong for Norwich

West Ham United stepped up their pre-season preparations with an impressive 2-1 victory against Championship side Norwich City on Tuesday night.

In a hard-fought match at Carrow Road, an excellent first-half display saw goals from Jonathan Spector and Dean Ashton - against his former club - give Alan Curbishley's men a second win in three days, while Chris Brown's second half strike proved to be only a consolation for the Canaries, led by former Hammers assistant manager Peter Grant.

The visitors made a bright start, enjoying the vast majority of possession and - had it not been for the excellence of Norwich keeper David Marshall - might have been 3-0 up inside the opening 10 minutes.

First Luis Boa Morte's sixth-minute corner was met by Zamora, whose powerful header was palmed away on the line, then Zamora sent in a low cross for Bowyer to meet with a firm left-foot shot that was somehow kept out by Marshall, before the Norwich stopper made it a hat-trick of fine saves when he again denied Zamora at the end of a flowing move.

On a slick and immaculate playing surface at Carrow Road, Hammers showed exactly what they are capable of with some quick, decisive passing that the hosts found difficult to cope with, and it was no surprise when the deadlock was eventually broken in stylish fashion on 27 minutes.

A neat, four-man move saw Lucas Neill feed the ball into Zamora, who spun away from his marker and laid it off for Boa Morte to thread an inch-perfect pass that released Spector, who claimed his first goal for the Club with a confident left-foot finish from close range.

The visitors continued to exert pressure on Norwich's troubled back four and after Boa Morte and Ashton had both missed excellent chances, the Hammers striker eventually found the net two minutes before the break to silence the jeers of his former supporters - slamming the ball home from 12 yards out after Boa Morte's shot had been parried by Marshall.

Not surprisingly, Norwich came out for the second half in more determined mood, although it looked like Hammers might make it 3-0 on 54 minutes when Zamora was bundled over in the penalty area, only for referee Thorpe to inexplicably wave play on.

Three minutes later, the hosts pulled a goal back, as substitutes Lee Croft and Brown combined - the latter heading a cross past Green from six yards out to give the Norwich fans hope that their team might be able to turn things around.

However, it was the visitors who finished the stronger and might have added to their tally. Craig Bellamy replaced Zamora with 25 minutes remaining to ensure that four former Norwich stars - Green, Ashton, Davenport and the Welshman - were on the pitch in Hammers colours, and Bowyer and substitute Carlton Cole both came close to finding the net late on.

Hammers now face their final pre-season friendly, against Italian giants AS Roma at Upton Park on Saturday, before the big kick-off against Manchester City on August 11, and Curbs will be pleased with the quality beginning to stand out from his team.

Norwich City: Marshall, Otsembor, Drury, Shackell (Spillane 90), Hughes, Doherty, Russell (Martin 65), Fotheringham, Strihavka (Brown 45), Cureton (Croft 56), Chadwick (Dublin 78). Subs unused: Gilks, Ryan Jarvis, Rossi Jarvis, Cave-Brown.

West Ham United: Green; Neill (McCartney 45), Collins (Davenport 45), Upson, Spector; Bowyer, Mullins, Noble (Etherington 70), Boa Morte; Ashton (Cole 79), Zamora (Bellamy 66). Subs unused: Wright, Gabbidon, Pantsil, Reid.

Referee: Mike Thorpe

Att: 22,751