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Saturday, 20th April 2002

West Ham United 3
Sunderland 0

by Graham Godfrey

What a top draw performance - must be the best team performance for a long while. The desire and will to win was equalled by the quality for once, and, even given the opposition, this was a terrific result.

To be fair Sunderland did cause us problems - Quinn creates problems for any defence, and Phillips can destroy anyone on his day. But Quinn fizzled out of the game and Pearce sorted Phillips out, although I don't believe there was that much contact. However, reports say he has ankle ligament damage, but super Kev only had one shot on target anyway.

Trev started up front with Jermain in the absence of Freddie (heavy cold) and Paolo; we started 4-4-2 with Pearce at right back and Schemm in front of him, with Joe out on the left, I do believe he can make this position work for him, here and for England.

Joe started from where he left off at Anfield, and caused them problems throughout the game. He had a goal disallowed at 0-0 for offside in the eighth minute after a great cross from Sincs. Jeremy Nicholas made a complete arse of himself and announced the goal - only to have to rapidly backtrack!

Within a minute, Dailly gave away a freekick on the edge of the box after using Quinn as a stepladder; the natives got well wound up by all this (even Joe lost it - he chased after the ref (Steve Bennett) and stuck his head under the officials armpit before letting go with all sorts of abuse!). Reyna's free kick was poor and easily dealt with by the wall, whilst Quinn came over to the Chicken Run - with a limp - and probably wished he hadn't.

All this helped to create one of the Boleyn's best atmospheres of the season, and the players duly responded. Carrick saw a half volley go slightly over the bar. We nearly scored from a corner; Dailly rose well but saw his header cleared off the line, shortly before Repka went on a one man mission of destruction earning a booking along the way.

The first goal came after 29 minutes; good play at the back from Repka saw him play a quality ball through to Schemm down the right hand side, who then lifted the ball first time over the head of the oncoming defender and into the path of Trev, whose cross shot had too much power for Sorenson. A cracking move and an excellent finish.

Schemmel was busy down our right flank throughout the game and, just before the break, found himself bearing down on goal. His shot hit the stantion behind the goal at such a speed it nearly killed a few Mackems on the way. The remainder of the first half was all West Ham, lots of neat football but never really threatening.

We didn't really get going at the start of the second half, but fortunately Sunderland weren't good enough to punish us. Our midfield and defence was solid; Carrick, Lomas and Repka pretty much controlling things. So it was just reward for both Lomas and Repka when the second goal arrived.

Just before the goal we won a corner which was taken by Schemmel. Lomas rose to meet it at the near post and Sorenson parried; Jermain couldn't quite reach it and the ball was cleared back out to Schemm, who, from an acute angle belted it back and forced a quality save from the big keeper.

The ball was eventually cleared upfield by the Sunderland defence and resulted in Tomas 'the hitman' Repka getting a few rabbit punches to the back of the head from Phillips. Repka collapsed to the ground with laughter, while the ref did bugger all with Phillips. All this did was to make Repka go even redder than he normally is, and give Mr Phillips the look of death, plus some choice words to boot.

From the resulting free kick the ball was again worked out to the right hand side, and some excellent link up play from Schemmel, Sinclair and Cole got Sincliar in behind the Sunderland defence, from where he pulled the ball back for Lomas to drive it into the bottom corner from 12 yard out.

Pandemonium broke out both on and off the pitch; a brilliant team goal. The best part of the celebrations though was our Tomas using all this commotion to square up to Phillips and give him a piece of his mind, before coming over to the rest of the lads. Priceless.

2-0 up at home traditionally means 'get worried lads, we've done enough, where's the cigar, where are we going tonight' ... but not today, none of the fancy flicks or showboating. Instead, what came next was (for me) the best bit of the day.

Sunderland had possession of the ball deep in their own half but were being pressed by Trev and Jermain. The ball found its way out to the right back who hesitated, and Joe came flying in with the tackle of the day, duly winning the ball. Nutty Nige got stuck in and Jermain got busy with it too resulting in a corner that was greeted by the whole ground with almost as much applause and noise as either of the goals.

To me, this was a fine example of the difference between this season and last. Anyone who was at Anfield on the first day of the season knows how well we played and how hard the team worked. It's what Glenn has instilled in the team, and, with a bit of fear being taken from their game (as relegation is no longer an issue) his philosophy on the game is gradually creeping into our play. At home it works a treat, of late it's also beginning to gell away too.

Sunderland did have a few chances following our second goal, but David James showed just how good a goalkeeper he is with some fine saves. He is such a commanding figure; I sometimes wonder how you can get the ball past him. He came for every cross and caught or cleared all of them, and his distribution to Schemm and Joe was excellent and set us up for attack after attack. You don't see Seaman or Martin doing that, do you?

On the way home , I also heard that James was the subject of a blackmail threat - for 26,000, to do with some drug dealing racket. Apparently someone was nicked and DJ has been told he is not wanted for questioning regarding anything to do with it.

Back to the game, and another cracking movedown the right resulted in the third goal. Joe and Schemm doing their thing released Lomas on the right side of the box; he took it to the byline and lifted it to the back post - remarkably two of our players were in the box, Trev cleverly knocked it back and Jermain popped it over the line with a sweet header a yard out - another sweet move.

Defoe went off with 12 minutes remaining to be replaced by Garcia, who looked lively and played a couple of excellent balls across the defence. Labant came on for (the excellent) Schemmel three minutes later; the two subs linked up well late on for Garcia to slip in Carrick who have his shot well saved by Sorenson.

Overall we did not miss Freddie or Paolo - but we won't be playing Sunderland every week. The movement and passing was, at times, breathtaking, and our defence is looking stronger and stronger with every game.

Bolton are now the only club that can do the double over us this season so the lads should be up for that, but before that game it's off to Highbury - maybe a bit of glory for us? How funny would it be to turn them over, and then up to the bar codes on Saturday for our final away game of the season..

Player ratings:

David James (8) Why he isn't first choice for England is beyond me. I feel confident now with him in goal; he was never really tested today but did everything well, and his good throws and kicks do set us up for a quick break.

Sebastien Schemmel (8) He is class. Never lets us down, smiles his way through the game; he enjoys himself out there and gives everything back to the punters. Had a few shots and was involved in all three goals.

Ian Pearce (8) Solid, not quite there fitness wise but you can't fault him defensively. Also got foward well once or twice in the first half (but didn't know whether or not to have another crack at goal or not!).

Tomas Repka (9) Excellent display of aggressive defending. Had a one man battle with Quinn, saw him off, then started on Phillips. Cleared everything that came near him.

Christian Dailly (8) Quality defending but Quinn did give him a few testing moments at the start (see above for reasons why Quinn faded). He can play the ball out of defence so well - although not regularly enough; much improved though.

Nigel Winterburn (8) Brilliant performance, I don't remember Sunderland threatening us at all down our left side. Kept going until the end and was involved in pressing their defence back in the second half, much to his amusement. Got another year in him yet.

Trevor Sinclair (8) Says it's his favourite position and on this showing he's welcome to have another go - an excellent goal, and was involved heavilly in both of the other goals.

Michael Carrick (8) Commanding. Had total control of the midfield from the start - pretty much like he did at Spurs. Got foward continuously, and may feel unlucky not to have scored. Again, why doesn't Sven fancy him in the midfield?

Steve Lomas (8) He's the missing link; does the hard jobs no one else wants, but gets rewards with the odd goal - and it was a goal of some quality today.

Joe Cole (9) Never overdid it with too mnay flicks and tricks, just stuck to what he does best ie. frightening the lives out of defences. What a week for Joe - winds up the Totts fans on Saturday, has a blinder for England on Wednesday then destroys Sunderland today - Man of the Match.

Jermain Defoe (8) He's still learning at this level but he looked dangerous at times and fully deserved his goal. He's got the lot, and at times it showed.

Richard Garcia (7) Looked lively and did some neat stuff, handy to have on the bench.

Vladimir Labant (6) Came on very late but still tried to get involved in the game. Didn't have to defend so the jury is still out.

KUMB Stats

West Ham United: James, Schemmel, Pearce, Repka, Dailly, Winterburn, Sinclair, Carrick, Lomas, Cole, Defoe

Subs: Garcia (Defoe 78), Labant (Schemmel 81), Hislop, Potts, Courtois

Sunderland: Sorensen, Williams, McCartney, Craddock, Bjorklund, Thirlwell, McCann, Reyna, Kilbane, Phillips, Quinn

Subs: Butler (Thirlwell 53), Kyle (Quinn 56), Schwarz (Phillips 70), Macho, Haas

Goals: Sinclair (27), Lomas (51), Defoe (76)

Booked: Repka (14), Schemmel (55), Pearce (68), Schwarz (78), Bjorklund (82)

Referee: Steve Bennett

Attendance: 33,319

Man of the Match: Joe Cole

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