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Saturday, 23rd February 2002

West Ham United 1
Middlesbrough 0

by Graeme Howlett

The Hammers moved in to the top half of the Premiership table this afternoon thanks to a late winner from Freddy Kanoute against Middlesbrough at the Boleyn.

Kanoute struck with just 12 minutes left on the clock to score the only goal of a dull encounter.

The French striker combined with new recruit Vladimir Labant - on for the injured Don Hutchison - twice, before neatly volleying the ball home from the edge of the box.

The Hammers went into the game without Paolo Di Canio, Seb Schemmel, Michael Carrick and Trevor Sinclair - and the resulting difference of quality was painfully clear.

But fortunately the visitors were at least as poor, and neither side managed to produce any chances of real note before Kanoute scored what was always going to be the only goal.

The Hammers task was aided somewhat by the 88th minute dismissal of the otherwise excellent Ugo Ehiougu for a rash challenge on substitute Vladimir Labant on the halfway touchline.

Once-upon-a-time Hammer Paul Ince was treated to his customary reception; a clearly rattled Ince also found his way into the referee's notebook in the final minutes for dissent.

Overall a good result for the Hammers - and one that was greeted with huge enthusiasm by Glenn Roeder, who recently 'passed' his trial period at the club by accepting a new three year contract.

The win lifted the Hammers above 'Boro in the table, along with Charlton and Sunderland. More importantly the gap between West Ham and the relegation positions is now nine points (34 to 25), which means that just three wins from their last eleven matches will almost certainly prove enough to preserve the Hammers Premiership status - at which point, Glenn Roeder has promised to introduce one or two of the younger players, such as Glen Johnson into the first team.

KUMB Stats

West Ham United: James, Dailly, Pearce, Repka, Winterburn, Hutchison, Lomas, Moncur, Cole, Kanoute, Defoe

Subs: Labant (Hutchison 42), Garcia (Lomas 87), Hislop, Potts, Kitson

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Stockdale, Southgate, Ehiogu, Queudrue, Greening, Mustoe, Ince, Whelan, Boksic, Carbone

Subs: Nemeth (Greening 80), Murphy (Whelen 81), Windass (Mustoe 88), Crossley, Gavin

Goals: Kanoute (78)

Booked: Cole, Labant, Stockdale, Ehiogu, Greening, Mustoe, Ince

Sent Off: Ehiogu (89)

Attendance: 35,420

Referee: C.Foy

Man of the match: Nigel Winterburn

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