posted on Jan, 23 2005 @ 12:44 PM
Grzegorz Rasiak's double sealed Derby's first win at Upton Park since 1976 - and left Alan Pardew wondering if he will still be in charge for West
Ham's FA Cup match with Sheffield United next weekend.
Rasiak's goals - either side of Carl Fletcher's equaliser - took Derby level with the Hammers on 45 points and arrived as a result of terrible
defending from the home side. Proof that Pardew's luck was out came when referee Lee Mason bizarrely chose not to send off Lee Camp in first-half
stoppage time after the Derby goalkeeper had body-checked Marlon Harewood when clean through.
Pardew had said this was a "must-win" game - but his team made the worst start possible. In the 10th minute, Richard Jackson's left-wing cross found
Rasiak and the Pole - totally unmarked - headed past James Walker from six yards. The home side were stunned - but should have equalised in the 24th
minute. Harewood released Chris Powell down the left, only for Sergei Rebrov to head the former England player's cross just over the crossbar from
seven yards. The Ukrainian was a relieved man when West Ham did draw level two minutes later. Nigel Reo-Coker's right-wing cross was headed partially
clear by Jeff Kenna, but Fletcher took advantage of Inigo Idiakez's hesitancy to win possession and drill home a low, left-foot shot from 18 yards for
his first West Ham goal.
In the 42nd minute, Camp should surely have been sent off. He up-ended Harewood, who was racing onto Mark Noble's excellent through-ball, but referee
Mason only booked Camp - and Fletcher drove the free-kick into the wall.
West Ham were far more purposeful at the start of the second half, and nearly took the lead twice. First Fletcher saw his looping header nodded off
the line by Kenna, and in the 48th minute Harewood somehow stabbed over the bar from three yards. But Derby were also creating chances. In the 57th
minute Morten Bisgaard curled just wide after taking advantage of Noble's misplaced pass. Rasiak scored his second in the 63rd minute, profiting again
from some dreadful West Ham defending.
Tom Huddlestone nodded Idiakez's left-wing cross to the unmarked Rasiak, and the tall striker was allowed to turn and volley beyond Walker. Substitute
Teddy Sheringham was denied in the 78th minute by a superb tackle from Pablo Mills, and Camp made a terrific save to keep out Luke Chadwick's
follow-up effort. Deep into injury time, Ian Taylor cleared Hayden Mullins' goal-bound shot as the pressure piled up for Pardew.