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Match report - 24/10/2004

West Ham produced a superb first-half performance to condemn Gillingham to a seventh straight Coca-Cola Championship defeat.

Alan Pardew's men took control in the opening 45 minutes thanks to goals from Bobby Zamora, Marlon Harewood and Hayden Mullins.

But substitute Darren Byfield, who was later carried off after colliding with an advertisement board, struck just before the break to lift Gillingham, and they performed much better in the second half.

Danny Spiller hit the post in the second half as the visitors pressed, and they were unfortunate to have nothing to show for their industry.

Impressive though the Hammers' display in the first half was, their level dropped in the second - and a better team would surely have punished them.

Gillingham should have taken the lead in the 12th minute. Nicky Southall's free-kick from the right found Ian Cox unmarked at the far post, but the central defender mistimed his header and Stephen Bywater did not even need to make a save.

Four minutes later, Jason Brown was forced into a fine save from Zamora's powerful 15-yard strike, but the England Under-21 striker was not to denied and gave his team an 18th-minute lead.

Sent clear by Harewood, Zamora galloped into the penalty area and produced an accomplished finish into the left corner from 12 yards.

The goal clearly increased Zamora's confidence and the ex-Tottenham man helped set up the second for Harewood in the 25th minute.

Matthew Etherington's fine pass gave Zamora time and space to drive a low cross from the left to the near post, and Harewood diverted the ball into the roof of the net with his right foot from close range.

The third arrived five minutes before the break. Etherington's corner found the unmarked Zamora, and Mullins was given the simple task of nodding his volleyed cross into an unguarded goal.

But Gillingham gave themselves hope when Byfield, on for the injured Patrick Agyemang, headed Richard Rose's cross past Bywater.

West Ham substitute Carl Fletcher fired just wide from 25 yards in the 49th minute and Sergei Rebrov's goal-bound volley hit Cox in the face, but after that Gillingham looked far more purposeful.

They should have halved their deficit when the ball reached Spiller eight yards out, but he fired against the right post just after the hour.

Harewood was denied a superb goal 13 minutes from time, his brilliant shot on the half turn from 25 yards tipped over the bar in equally admirable fashion by Brown.

Byfield's injury meant Gillingham had to play the last 10 minutes with 10 men.

Teams

West Ham Bywater, Repka, Brevett, Mullins, Mackay, Rebrov, Lomas, Reo-Coker (Fletcher 46), Etherington (Cohen 66), Harewood, Zamora (Chadwick 75).

Subs Not Used: Walker, Ferdinand.

Goals: Zamora 18, Harewood 25, Mullins 39.

Gillingham Brown, Nosworthy, Cox, Rose, Spiller, Southall (Jarvis 64), Hessenthaler, Hope, Agyemang (Byfield 38), Sidibe (Henderson 60), Crofts.

Subs Not Used: Banks, Leon Johnson.

Booked: Nosworthy.

Goals: Byfield 45.

Att: 25,247

Ref: E Evans (Lancashire).


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