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Sunday, 23rd July 2000

St Patricks Athletic 0
West Ham United 1

by Brita

West Ham lined up in what initially looked like a 5-3-2 formation - although it appeared unbalanced as Keller was playing as an out and out winger and Charles was playing as a right back.

Expectations were high from the West ham faithful, following the 5-0 win over Purfleet. Rio looked happy to go forward and was quick to track back when needed, after 5 mins he met a keller corner but headed over the St. Pats bar.

The Irishmen responded and broke quickly, with a powerful shot forcing Bywater to palm it over.

The West Ham midfield looked comfortable with the ball but lacked creativity and failed to provide many oppportunities for a disinterested Kanoute and Sinclair to take advantage of.

St. Pats defended competently - occassionally in numbers but weren't really stretched and any shots on target were schoolboy stuff for former Cardiff City keeper Seamus Kelly to deal with.

West Hams problems were highlighted around the 20 minute mark when first Lampard scuffed a shot from just outside the area, and then Rio gave the ball away under no pressure.

kumb - Hayden Foxe When St. Pats came forward they looked more urgent - forcing Bywater to make a couple of decent saves. St. Pats lacked the skill levels of their Premiership counterparts (The Irish League being roughly of Conference standard), but they seemed to take the game more seriously than our boys.

Keller produced some dangerous crosses and corners, but the front men failed to take advantage of his work. Rio's lack of accuracy in directing the ball in their area could have come straight from the Trevor Brooking school of heading.

Carrick's lack of concentration towards the end of this half resulted in the Hammers losing possession too easily - but St. Pats lacked the vision to capitalise.

A pretty uneventful first half was ended when number three, Dino Jorge (a trialist?) was left in a heap near the halfway line. The ref took the opportunity to blow for half time.

Substitutions on, Ruddock, Winterburn, Bernado, off, Jorge Ferdinand and Keller

While West Ham's defence were temporarily blindsided by Ruddock's broad expanse, St. Pats came close to getting on the score sheet as Bywater made another competent save.

West Ham looked like they were going to be able to cash in on their midfield advantage, but Frankie's shot blazed just wide and Seamus Kelly kept his wits about him to deny Sinclair's attempt.

Kanoute ran well with the ball but couldn't finish (ie being good at the foreplay but getting brewers droop at the crucial moment). About ten mins into the half he tangled with one of the hosts resulting in both players being sprawled on the ground. Kanoute was subbed shortly afterwards in favour on Invincible (who's name impressed the crowd no end). Harry also used the opportunity to pull off Charles (phnarr phnarr!!) who had been so ineffectual in the wingback role. The two newcomers lifted the game a notch - Newton imposed himself down the right, Invincible keen to impress up front.

One punter was so excited by the substitutions that he tore on to the field while simultaneously lowering his Y-fronts in a display of poise and elegance that was not in evidence elsewhere on the pitch.

O'Reilly came on for Bywater. We entered the last 15 minutes of the game, Cole was brought down and as the ref blew his whistle Frank sent the ball flying into the net (disallowed - obviously). The bench heaved a huge sigh of relief as Cole got up to his feet non the worse for wear (this being his first full game back since breaking his leg). From the resulting free kick Sinclair blasted the ball into the net 1-0.

In the dying minutes St. Pats threw everyone forward hoping to grab the elusive equaliser - but their best chance went just wide of O'Reilly's post (he'll claim to have had it covered!).

The game was pretty much what you would expect from a pre-season friendly, West Ham still in holiday mode, St. Pats looking upon the occasion as one of the biggest games of the season. Hayden Foxe looked very solid - confident in the air and although the defence weren't often tested he fully deserved the Autoglass Man of the Match award. It was good to see the trialists and fringe players but in truth this game gives little indication of the forth coming season. But based on this I wouldn't like to be drawn away at Kettering in the third round of the cup.

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