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Saturday, 23rd September 2000

Coventry City 0
West Ham United 3

by Graeme Howlett

The Hammers strolled to their second win inside five days at Highfield Road this afternoon at the expense of Coventry, lifting themselves off the bottom of the Premiership for the first time in five weeks in the process.

Goals from Paolo Di Canio, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard were enough to seal the Hammers first Premiership win of the season.

Harry's men, despite their poor points tally have been threatening to do this to almost every team they have met so far this season. The first halves against Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester saw no more chances created than today, but the difference between a point from those three games and three today was the finishing. The Hammers were clinical in their execution today, and duly reaped the reward they thoroughly deserved against an admittedly lacklustre Coventry side.

And Redknapp even had the luxury of choosing a team today, rather than having his hand forced as of late thanks to a lengthy injury list. Back came Di Canio, Kanoute, Lampard; Sinclair, Lomas and Ferdinand were all passed fit, and hell, we even had a spare forward on the bench in the shape of loan signing Kaba Diawara.

So the Hammers started in Redknapp's favoured 5-3-2 formation, thus:

Sinclair Ferdinand Stimac S.Pearce Winterburn
Cole Lomas Lampard
Di Canio Kanoute

From the start it was clear that this was to be West Ham's day. Coventry appeared edgy and without direction, whilst the Hammers, spurred on by Messrs. Di Canio (making his 50th Hammers appearance) and Cole looked determined to grind out that evasive first win of the season.

The only surprise was that it took so long for the Hammers to open the scoring. When they did it came from a Coventry mistake; a harmless looking Kanoute cross was miscontrolled by Richard Shaw, which allowed Di Canio to pounce and blast home from inside the box.

The Hammers fans had hardly begun to celebrate the first goal before the lead was doubled. Less than two minutes later Joe Cole latched on to a clever Di Canio cross and lashed the second past a helpless Magnus Hedman.

The third and final goal came ironically when the home side were enjoying their best spell. Eustace, Hall and Zuniga all wasted chances to bring the Sky Blues back into the game, and the Hammers made them pay the price when Frank Lampard tapped in a Trevor Sinclair cross. An easier goal he will never score.

Redknapp even made an unenforced substitution late on; Kaba Diawara came on for Freddy Kanoute and almost marked his debut with a stunning goal, but was denied thanks to Hedman's agility.

The only dampener for the Hammers was the first half injury to Rio Ferdinand. He pulled a groin following an innocuous challenge with Coventry's Hadji, and initial reports are suggesting that he could be out for upwards of a month. Bad news for the Hammers, and heartbreaking for Rio as he looked certain to start against Germany in the World Cup qualifier in two weeks time.

The resounding win was vindication for under-fire Hammers boss Harry Redknapp who had been on the receiving end of plenty of stick following his team's poor start to the season. Redknapp has claimed from the start of this campaign that the team were playing well without having any luck, and today's performance would appear to back up those claims.

West Ham will be looking to make it 3 out of 3 when Walsall visit the Boleyn in the Worthington Cup second round, second leg on Wednesday night, before Bradford visit Upton Park in the league a week today.

Team: Hislop, Winterburn, Sinclair, S.Pearce, Ferdinand, Stimac, Lomas, Cole, Lampard, Di Canio, Kanoute

Subs: Forrest, Potts (Sinclair 80), Newton, Carrick (Ferdinand 12), Diawara (Kanoute 84)

Coventry: Hedman, Hall, Edworthy, Williams, Palmer, Shaw, Chippo, Hadji, Thompson, Bellamy, Zuniga

Subs: Kirkland, Eustace (Thompson 45), Telfer, Breen (Hall 75), Aloisi (Zuniga 69)

Goals: Di Canio (38), Cole (40), Lampard (71)

Referee: N.Barry

Attendance: 20,120

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