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Monday, 7th August 2000

Barnet 3
West Ham United 4

by Graeme Howlett

West Ham continued their good run of pre-season form with a narrow win tonight at Barnet's Underhill stadium.

Goals from Omar Riza, Gavin McCann, Tyrell Forbes and Joe Cole ensured victory for the Hammers.

A small, but good natured crowd enjoyed a seven goal thriller in the balmy summer heat. The home side drew first blood; a mistake from Hammers keeper Stephen Bywater let in veteran striker Ken Charlery for the opening goal.

But the Hammers came back with a vengeance; three goals before half-time - including a superb 20 yard free kick from McCann that left the Barnet kepper rooted to the spot - meant the game should have been over as a contest.

Joe Cole, bigger and stronger since we saw him last season was a class apart tonight, as he ran Barnet's beleaguered forces ragged with a performance that even put a smile on the watching Arsene Wenger's face. The teenage prodigy was the difference between the sides; he covered every blade of grass on the pitch and looked like he could do it all over again as he left the pitch to tumultuous applause at the final whistle.

Young McCann has a good night too; he looked like a first team player with a performance as assured as any you will see at the Boleyn this season. The watching Harry Redknapp, who took the game in from the main stand will do well to keep an eye on this young lad during the coming months.

He certainly impressed assistant boss Frank Lampard, who said after the game: "McCann is a product of our youth system, and could break into the first-team this season. Hes a midfielder with a good left foot and bags of ability. Were hopeful he will do well.

Marc Keller and John Moncur were also present. They had an okay evening, nothing to write home about perhaps but solid nonetheless.

However, it was not a good night for the previously mentioned Bywater. He had what is known in the trade as a 'mare', at fault for two goals whilst managing the occasional flap at a cross. No wonder watching coach Les Sealey gave him a mouthful on several occasions.

Paul Kitson and Gary Charles, two players who should be especially keen to impress Redknapp also had a poor night. Charles' passing and crossing was abysmal; where he fits into Redknapp's plans is anyone's guess after the evidence of tonight. Kitson just didn't want to know; he looked unfit and disinterested throughout, as if his thoughts were elsewhere. Mulling over a move to Birmingham perhaps?

The second half was all West Ham until two quick goals brought the home side back to 3-3. But with the home fans sensing that a shock win may be on the cards, Tyrell Forbes supremely curled the winner around the substitute keeper from the edge of the box to give the Hammers a 4-3 victory. It was a fitting end to a game which the Hammers had deserved to win.

So another win for the Hammers; no Suker, no Di Canio and definitely no Rio on show - but a good night for the fans all the same.

Graeme Howlett

Your views (use the form below to send us your version of events)

"That young Portugeezer was outstanding at left back. Harry sign him now!!!!!!!"

"Joe Cole certainly did not "run the show" - apart from a couple of individual flashes of genius he had a quiet game. Iriekpen was the outstanding performer on the pitch."

"Good report but West Hams Number three was for me the man of the match however nobody seems to know who he was !! If you find out I would be grateful"

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