Harry’s game is too much for Hammers

Tottenham Hotspur 2 West Ham United 0 IT IS 10 years since West Ham grabbed a win at White Hart Lane and if this performance is anything to go by, it might be another 10 before the team can compete against the old enemy again, writes DAVE EVANS. In the en

Tottenham Hotspur 2 West Ham United 0

IT IS 10 years since West Ham grabbed a win at White Hart Lane and if this performance is anything to go by, it might be another 10 before the team can compete against the old enemy again, writes DAVE EVANS.

In the end, the final score of 2-0 flattered the Hammers, for they were outclassed by Harry Redknapp's team and perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was that West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola thought his side had played well.

"I will tell you what I said to the players. I was delighted with the way they played in the second half," said the manager with a straight face.

"They looked very good and with that kind of attitude and spirit it is not going to be long before they come back winning."

It was an interesting point of view when you consider that the Hammers had just two shots on target throughout the whole match. They left Mexican striker Guillermo Franco isolated for long periods, while neither Herita Ilunga or his replacement, Jonathan Spector, could cope with the pace of Aaron Lennon, and the midfield could not withstand the power of their Tottenham counterparts.

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It took Spurs just 11 minutes to grab the lead. Scott Parker had an early chance for West Ham when he latched on to Franco's clever flick, only to shoot well wide, but Tottenham were more clinical in front of goal.

Lennon sprinted away from Matty Upson down the right and when his cross deflected into the path of Luka Modric, the Croatian scuffed a shot into the ground and into the net.

A minute later, Parker limped off with a tight hamstring and when Ilunga did the same before the 20-minute mark; it looked like being a very long afternoon for a West Ham team that now had Valon Behrami and Radoslav Kovac as their holding midfielders.

Tottenham took complete charge, playing games with the Hammers with their possession football at times and the only surprise was that they did not add to their early strike.

Tom Huddlestone twice sent shots inches wide, Peter Crouch missed the target after Wilson Palacios had stormed down the right and crossed, before Jermain Defoe first shot straight at Robert Green and then had the keeper beaten with a free kick that flew past the post.

At the other end, Jack Collison caused Tottenham their only problem as he picked up Alessandro Diamanti's pass before testing Heurelho Gomes with a low drive, but for the most part, the goalkeeper was a spectator.

Zola moved Jimenez further forward at the start of the second half to give the ever-willing Franco some semblance of support, but although it gave West Ham more possession, there was still no real cutting edge and the Spurs defence hardly had to break sweat.

West Ham's defence certainly did. Lennon fired over after beating Spector and Kovac and Upson blocked a shot from Palacios, before Huddlestone was denied again, this time by the woodwork as his low drive flew past Green and on to the post.

West Ham were living dangerously, but slowly they began to take advantage of Tottenham's complacency and almost forced their way back into the match.

Jimenez should have found Franco or Collison with a simple pass after Diamanti had picked him out with a crossfield ball, and Diamanti then combined with Franco and Behrami to get in another cross which Michael Dawson had to hastily hack over his own bar.

These were the moments of hope in the West Ham ranks, but with nine minutes to go they disappeared.

Diamanti lost the ball - something that happened far too often throughout the match - and Spurs flew forward on the break. Defoe cut inside past James Tomkins and thumped a shot goalwards which cannoned into Green's chest.

It was Defoe who reacted quickest to the rebound as he hammered it into the far corner to put the game out of West Ham's reach.

Diamanti forced a good save from Gomes in the dying stages, but there never looked like a way back for the Hammers, who finished as they had started this disappointing London derby - on the back foot.

"I know we lost, but in my opinion we lost to one of the best teams in the country," said Zola. "But in the second half we just stood up against them and there was a moment where I was just thinking that the team who was going to score was us."

Maybe, but when you are relying on the likes of Jimenez, Diamanti, Behrami and Kovac to get in the box and put pressure on Spurs, then it was always going to be a long shot that West Ham were going to grab that vital goal.

Tottenham could unleash the likes of Robbie Keane and Niko Kranjcar from the bench, West Ham have a bench made up largely of kids - there is a huge gap between the two clubs at the moment, that didn't exist even a year ago.

Zola had words of praise for his defence and young Tomkins in particular, who put in a man of the match performance.

"The defensive line was really good," he said. "Tomkins was really good, but also Matthew Upson and Julien Faubert on the right. I am pleased with the way we defended. I think the whole team has defended much better than before.

"But Tomkins will be an important player. He is growing a lot in confidence, in security and in many things. The boy has got a future and if he keeps working hard, he will be an important player."

He will, but when the defence is being put under such huge pressure because goals are not coming at the other end, then the struggles will continue for this West Ham team.

Things may have looked bright after the draw with Chelsea and the victory over rock-bottom Portsmouth on Boxing Day, but this one-sided clash really does put West Ham's predicament into perspective.

There is a lot of work still to do and if the manager thinks that was a decent second half performance, then that is the most worrying thing of all.

West Ham: Green, Faubert, Upson, Gabbidon, Ilunga (Spector 19), Behrami, Parker (Jimenez 12), Kovac, Collison (Stanislas 79), Diamanti, Franco. Unused subs: Stech, Da Costa, Nouble, Payne.

Att: 35,994. Referee: Chris Foy (7).

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