Penalty agony for West Ham Masters

WEST HAM came within a whisker of retaining their London Masters title at Wembley Arena on Saturday night. In fairness, it should have been the Hammers going on to the Grand Final in Merseyside in September, but as so many West Ham sides have done in the

WEST HAM came within a whisker of retaining their London Masters title at Wembley Arena on Saturday night.

In fairness, it should have been the Hammers going on to the Grand Final in Merseyside in September, but as so many West Ham sides have done in the past, they simply threw it away at the death.

The Hammers started superbly as they crushed Spurs 4-2 in their opening group match.

Kenny Brown, 42, drilled in the opener, before Darren Caskey equalised for Spurs, but goals from Rufus Brevett, Keith Rowland and Ian Pearce put the match out of sight.


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Clive Wilson did pull a goal back, but a 4-2 win was the least West Ham deserved.

Spurs' 3-3 draw with Arsenal, meant West Ham only needed a draw against the Gunners to go through, but when Ray Parlour gave them a half-time lead, the Ham-mers were looking a little shaky.

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There was no need to worry however. Rowland scored from an acute angle to equalise and within two minutes the game belonged to West Ham as the sprightly Trevor Sinclair scored through Vince Bartram's legs, before Pearce's shot was parried into the path of Michael Hughes who slotted in the rebound.

QPR had disposed of Chelsea and Fulham in their group to make the final, but it was holders West Ham who were favourites to take the trophy, despite Rangers having more time to recover.

West Ham were certainly in control for most of the match, and had their best chances fallen to anyone but Brevett, they may have won by a country mile.

With just under five minutes to go the match seemed to be over when Pearce latched on to Sinclair's touch to rifle home, but West Ham then proceeded to mess around with the ball at the back.

With a minute left, they lost possession and Tony Thorpe equalised, and then in the penalty shoot-out, it was QPR's Tony Roberts, who still plays for Dagenham & Redbridge who proved the match-winner.

Sasa Ilic was in goal for the Hammers, despite having played only one game for West Ham in his career - a four-goal drubbing by Everton, while on loan from Charlton Athletic.

He saved from Karl Connolly and Thorpe, but for West Ham, Hughes hit the bar and Rowland blasted miles over, before Kevin Horlock's effort was brilliantly tipped on to the crossbar by Roberts.

Sinclair and Brevett did score for the Hammers, but when Michael Meaker tucked his shot into the corner, the match was over and Rangers were the Lon-don Masters!

The Hammers were missing a few of their regular players, while Steve Lomas dropped out at the last minute, but they can comfort themselves in the fact that Diego Tristan and David Di Michele will soon be eligible!

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