West Ham United 0 Sheffield United 2

Last updated : 03 January 2005 By Footymad Previewer
The half-hearted, hapless Hammers were simply cut to ribbons by the Blades as Neil Warnock's team leapfrogged over under pressure Alan Pardew's Jeckyll and Hyde side into fifth spot, thanks to a Tomas Repka own goal and Leigh Bromby's long-ranger.

Only one place and two goals difference had separated these two play-off chasers at the kick-off, but by the time the final whistle blew, there was a huge chasm between sprightly Sheffield United and a woeful, weary West Ham side so short on ideas and so long on inconsistency.

Pardew named an unchanged team from the eleven that had won so well at table-topping Ipswich Town on New Year's Day, following a hard-fought Boxing Day victory over Nottingham Forest and a dogged draw at struggling Rotherham United.

After their New Year's Day home defeat against Wigan Athletic, the Blades had welcomed back keeper Paddy Kenny from suspension and Derek Geary in place of Danny Cadamarteri.

Certainly, it was not only their luminous orange strip that made Warnock's side look brighter from start to finish as Michael Tonge, Andy Liddell and Phil Jagielka soon served up an early warning of their intentions with a trio of efforts.

Indeed, with United throwing a blanket across the middle of Upton Park, Kenny was a mere spectator as the goal-shy East Enders looked a pale shadow of the team who had ploughed Joe Royle's Tractor Boys into the Portman Road turf just two days earlier.

And sadly for West Ham, when they did finally muster a shot on target five minutes before the break, it was at the wrong end. For when Jon Harley's pinpoint crossfield pass expertly found Geary, Repka inadvertently sliced the subsequent low right-wing centre into his own net from six yards, to give the Yorkshiremen a deserved interval lead.

Pardew responded by hurling on Sergei Rebrov and Luke Chadwick for the second half and within moments of the restart, the hitherto anonymous Marlon Harewood sent a speculative angled volley scorching high and wide.

But that was to prove the falsest of false dawns and, on the hour, Alan Quinn's touchline free-kick was headed weakly away by Malky Mackay, who could only look on in horror as Bromby drilled the loose ball back beyond Steve Bywater from 20 yards to all but secure victory.

That was the cue for the now all too familiar shouts of 'What a load of rubbish' and 'Pardew out' as the rapid evacuation of Upton Park began.

And it proved to be a good decision for those who were indoors with their feet up long before the final whistle for, incredibly, West Ham still failed to force the equally restful Kenny into a single save on a desperately dark day for the Hammers boss and his lacklustre side.