28/12/2003 West Ham United
0 - 2

They say only two things in life are certain, death and taxes, but you could safely add old players coming back to haunt you, after Marlon Harewood scored on his return to the City Ground to help West Ham take all three points with a 2-0 victory.

West Hamís want-away striker Jermaine Defoe bagged the other goal for the Hammers as they proved to be the better side on the day and extended Forestís miserable run to 11 games without a win.

After the fine performance against Norwich on Boxing Day Paul Hart made several changes to the starting line-up to face the Hammers. Matthieu Louis-Jean and Michael Dawson made welcome returns from injury, while Ross Gardener was given his first start of the season and Michael Stewart also started.

Forest started well, and Gardener showed flair and skill from the off, however, it was West Ham who took the lead in the sixth minute with what was their first real attack of the game. And it was no surprise that Harwood got the goal after Defoe flicked on a Matt Etherington cross.

On 11 minutes, it looked as if an equaliser was on the cards as Andy Reid, after a fine run, put the ball through for Gareth Taylor, but he sent his shot sailing over the bar.

The midfield battle was fairly even at this point and Forest were battling well, yet they lacked the firepower up front to convert the chances, and West Ham always looked the most likely to score again.

The fact that the Hammers didnít score another in the first half was down to a fairly solid looking Forest defence.

An early second half corner for Forest saw David James pull off a fine save from Taylorís header. It resulted in a quick break by the Hammers, and much to the amusement (and relief) of the Trent End, a rushed shot by Harewood which was a long way off target.

Reid then came close to an equaliser with a free kick from just outside the area, but his shot brushed the top of the crossbar as it went over.

As the second half wore on Forest seemed to grow tired, they struggled to get forward and the midfield battle was now being won by West Ham, who sent out a warning of their intentions as David Connolly blasted a shot from the edge of the area. Darren Ward did well to get a hand to it and divert it out for a corner.

With just over six minutes left West Ham finally got the second goal their play deserved, when a long ball found Defoe out on the left. He ran in, past several defenders before picking his spot and curling a lovely shot into he top right corner of the net.

The rumours before the game were that this would be Defoeís last game in a West Ham shirt, as he must now sit out a five game suspension, and is a target for several Premiership clubs when the transfer window opens in four days time. On the strength of his performance today, they are going to miss him.

With only seconds to go, Ward pulled off the save of the game as Etherington picked up a loose ball five yards out, before blasting it at the goal. Somehow, Ward managed to pick himself up and stop the shot with an outstretched hand. It bobbled dangerously for a second or two before John Thompson swept it clear.

Forest were beaten by the better side on the day, but unlike Boxing Day, they probably deserved what they got. However, despite the result their were some good performances from the men in red, and Ross Gardenersí first start must stand out as one of the bright spots in an otherwise miserable Christmas for Forest.
Forest Man-of-the-Match:


[Click on Player Name to view Player Profile and Statistics]

No. Player Scored Cards
16  DOIG       
17  STEWART  Substituted    
32  GARDNER       
10  TAYLOR       
11  KING       
14  JESS  Substitute (On for 17 )    


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