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Saturday, 14th October 2000

Ipswich Town 1
West Ham United 1

by Staff Writer

Paolo Di Canio earned the Hammers a valuable away point with a 72nd minute strike at Portman Road this afternoon.

Former Hammers target Marcus Stewart shot the home side into a fifth minute lead, but Di Canio came up trumps again with the second half equaliser.

Much was expected from the Hammers today; with the much needed two week break behind them we were looking forward to a newly revitalised team, fresh, full of skill, commitment and willing to take all three points back down the A12.

But instead, it was like we'd never been away. Only in patches did the Hammers offer us a tantalising glimpse of what we know they are capable of producing; unfortunately the defending on show today was at best erratic, at worst a shambles.

Ipswich stunned the travelling 3,000 Hammers fans with a goal inside the first five minutes. A well crafted move which caught the Hammers asleep culminated with a Marcus Stewart header, which flew past Shaka Hislop into the corner.

It took a while, but the Hammers were finally shaken out of their trance to produce their best spell of the game in the final third of the first half. Some tantalising trickery from Cole and Di Canio on the right produced two or three good chances, but once again the clinical finish was missing, and the score remained 1-0 at the break.

The second half began like the first, with the home side grabbing the initiative and coming close on a couple of occasions.

This prompted an unexpected move from Hammers boss Harry Redknapp. The crowd had been clamouring for the arrival of John Moncur since kick off at 3pm, and their wishes were duly granted with 56 minutes on the clock.

What they didn't like was the removal of Nigel Winterburn. Most had been expecting to see the departure of the ineffectual Frank Lampard, once again sadly out of sorts, and clearly unfit. Redknapp was told in no uncertain terms by the fans what they thought of the switch, with a resounding chorus of 'You don't know what you're doing.'

But the substitution, which meant a tactical switch to 4-4-2 (with Steve Lomas dropping in at right back) was vindicated when the Hammers drew level a quarter of an hour later. Clever work by Trevor Sinclair - another player strangely quiet and perhaps not match-fit - on the right flank led to a chip to the back post, which Paolo Di Canio dispatched superbly beyond Richard Wright from an acute angle. Much badge kissing ensued by the maestro, who milked the crowd's applause for all he could before returning sedately back into position.

But yet again the Hammers adopted the siege mentality that we've seen only too often, and Ipswich can be counted as unfortunate not to have won the game in the dying minutes. Shaka Hislop, whose performance up to this point could be described as 'indifferent' made two superb saves to deny the home side all three points.

The result was soured with the injury to Igor Stimac in the final minutes, who was stretchered off following a collision with team mate Hislop and Town striker Johnson, who had just entered the fray. Full marks to the home crowd who generously clapped Stimac as he was carried to the dressing room.

So another point on our travels, but questions still have to be asked of a team who are consistently performing way under par at present. The attitude of some of the players seems to be questionable, something Paolo Di Canio hinted at in a post match interview, when he said: "They [Ipswich] don't have any star names - but they play as a team."

Match Facts

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

SUBS: Moncur (Winterburn 56), Potts (Stimac 88), Bywater, Carrick, Diawara

IPSWICH TOWN: Wright, Wilnis, Clapham, McGreal, Venus, Hreidarsson, Holland, Magilton, Wright, Stewart, Naylor

SUBS: Scrowcroft (Stewart 71), Johnson (Naylor 83), Bramble, Salmon, Reuser

Goals: Stewart (4), Di Canio (72)

Booked: Pearce, Cole, Kanoute, Moncur

Referee: N.Barry

Att: 22,243

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