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West Ham 2 Aston Villa 1 By Mark Bradley, PA Sport
John Hartson piled further misery on Aston Villa at Upton Park as his second
double strike of the season against the Midlands side gave West Ham a
Hartson scored twice last month when the Hammers knocked Brian Little's side
out of the Coca-Cola Cup 3-0 in the third round.
And the Welsh international was the hero again in this Premiership rematch as
he took his tally for the season to 16 goals with another double, confirming him
as the top flight's leading scorer in all competitions.
His first goal came on 17 minutes following a long through ball from defender
David Unsworth which he chested down before advancing into the area, holding off
the Villa defenders and then firing the ball past keeper Michael Oakes.
Dwight Yorke responded with Villa's equaliser just a minute into the second
half as he repeated his goalscoring feat from mid-week when he gave the Midlands
side their vital away goal in the 2-1 defeat at Steaua Bucharest in the UEFA
But just seconds later, as the Villa fans were still celebrating, Hartson
The ball was swept quickly upfield and after again showing his strength to
hold off the defenders around him, Hartson placed the ball inside the post to
With Savo Milosevic missing a late chance to equalise, Hartson's goals enabled
West Ham to bounce back from three consecutive Premiership defeats - all the way
from home - and confirm their status as an imposing club to visit, having lost
only to Newcastle at Upton Park so far this season.
West Ham had seized the early initiative in the game, even though boss Harry
Redknapp had been forced to re-shuffle his side in the absence of flu victim
Frank Lampard, Andy Impey and John Moncur, with central defender Steve Potts
pushed into midfield.
As early as the second minute, former French under 21 striker Samassi Abou was
put clear by a Hartson flick-on but succeeded in only getting a toe to the ball
six yards out while under pressure and Oakes saved with his outstretched leg.
Hartson blazed the ball wildly over the bar from 15 yards shortly before his
goal, which then stung Villa into action.
They upped the tempo with Gary Charles hitting the side netting, Milosevic
directing a diving header straight at Ludek Miklosko and Mark Draper forcing the
keeper into a diving save with a 20-yard shot.
Yorke put Villa back into the game a minute after the re-start, slotting the
ball past the West Ham keeper following a delightful one-two on the edge of the
area with Milosevic.
But after Hartson's second had given the lead back to West Ham, Villa keeper
Oakes had to produce three stunning saves to keep the Hammers at bay.
First, he dived low to his left to palm away a curling shot from Abou, then he
reproduced his heroics from the corner to save the same man's header.
Shortly afterwards, on 65 minutes, the stand in keeper - replacing Mark
Bosnich who is away on international duty with Australia - denied Hartson his
hat-trick with yet another flying save.
Villa responded and bombarded the West Ham goal in the final 15 minutes but
striker Stan Collymore's nightmare run continued as he completely missed the
ball when it was crossed to him just six yards out with the goal seemingly at
Milosevic was then denied when Miklosko saved his goal-bound header and the
Czech keeper had to be at his best yet again to save from Draper with just seven
minutes left when the midfielder powered in a drive from outside the area.
Then, in the dying seconds, the ball fell to Milosevic in the area but after
steadying himself and evading one challenge, he struck the ball not only past
the keeper but also just a few inches past the far post.
West Ham: Miklosko, Breacker, Unsworth, Ferdinand, Pearce,
Berkovic, Lomas, Rowland, Potts, Abou (Alves 69), Hartson.
Subs Not Used: Forrest, Dowie, Terrier, Mean.
Goals: Hartson 18, 48.
Aston Villa: Oakes, Charles, Wright, Ehiogu, Staunton,
Scimeca (Grayson 46), Nelson, Draper, Milosevic, Yorke,
Subs Not Used: Rachel, Joachim, Hendrie, Curcic.
Goals: Yorke 47.
Ref: P E Alcock (Redhill).