Dickov double downs Hammers
By Tom Adams. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
A five goal thriller at Ewood Park saw Blackburn recover from a late first half strike to edge West Ham 3-2 after a frantic second period.
Alan Pardew's visitors overcame the early loss of Danny Gabbidon due to a knee injury as Bobby Zamora followed up his exquisite goal against Birmingham to claim back-to-back Premiership strikes for the first time in his career.
A quiet first half soon gave way to an astonishing period of play, as Paul Dickov turned the game on its head with two goals in two minutes, the first of which was a penalty after Tomas Repka's handball.
The Londoners soon drew level when Marlon Harewood headed in, but Mark Hughes's men regained their advantage as substitute Shefki Kuqi took advantage of some slack defending to signal the end of Rovers' poor run of form.
Rovers looked ready to reverse their recent barren run of three games without a goal, and started neatly as Gabbidon had to rely on his instincts to clear when Dickov flicked on a low Morten Gamst Pedersen cross.
Indeed Hughes' side were inches away from grabbing an early advantage when Robbie Savage rattled the bar from a central free-kick. Referee Mike Riley gave the Welsh star another chance after booking Mark Noble for encroachment, but his second effort was tame and failed to beat the wall.
Rovers continued to push their opponents back, and had another chance to open the scoring when Steven Reid's ball allowed Brett Emerton to whip in a dangerous cross from the right wing - however Dickov, stealing in ahead of Anton Ferdinand, directed it just wide of the far post.
Despite their early dominance Blackburn nearly wasted all their good work when Zura Khizanishvili's slack defending allowed Harewood to squirm free inside the box, although his cross was misdirected and gathered easily by Brad Friedel.
The Hammers then suffered early damage as Gabbidon, under pressure from Pedersen, chased to head clear and clattered heavily into the advertising hoardings.
After a lengthy stoppage the Welsh international was stretchered off in considerable pain, later revealed to be resulting from a nasty cut across his knee, and former Rover Christian Dailly was called upon to enter the fray to a chorus of boos from Ewood Park.
The momentum of the first half suffered from the incident, and Rovers were denied twice by the officials in a tepid finish as Riley, first, rightly disregarded a slightly theatrical penalty appeal from Khizanishvili before Dickov was incorrectly given offside when released by a superb chipped pass from David Bentley.
Michael Gray had an effort inadvertently blocked by the on-loan Arsenal man, and Dickov skewed a shot wide for a throw, but Blackburn failed to excite the home support against what looked like a subdued West Ham side.
Indeed their frustrations were to deepen when Bentley's attempt to pick out a team-mate was intercepted by Repka, and as Harewood lead the quick breakaway his sliding pass found Zamora who held off Reid and finished confidently past Friedel in injury time.
Blackburn started the brightest after the break, despite Noble heading off-target from an early chance for the visitors, and even without injured top-scorer Craig Bellamy they caused West Ham problems.
Bentley grew in influence and went close twice as he cut inside Paul Konchesky to see his curling effort tipped wide by a stretching Roy Carroll, before escaping the attentions of Hayden Mullins and firing wide with a wicked drive.
The pressure building on the Hammers goal was palpable, and Blackburn were handed the opportunity to end a five-and-a-half hour goalless drought when Repka handballed in the box as he climbed above Emerton to clear a Pedersen long throw.
Dickov made no mistake from the spot as he fired in to Roy Carroll's right, and the spiky Scot turned the game on its head in dramatic fashion just a minute later as he capitalised on Dailly's inability to clear Pedersen's cross by sliding in to convert at the far post.
However a frantic second period took another twist as Hughes' side relinquished their lead within five minutes. Yossi Benayoun released Zamora on the right and the goalscorer turned provider as his cross to the far post was headed in by unmarked strike partner Harewood - despite Savage's best attempts to punch it clear.
The Welshman then nearly made a more legitimate and telling contribution at the other end as he saw another free-kick cannon off the cross bar, and the chaotic nature of the second half continued as, from the resultant West Ham break, Harewood fired over after finding himself one-on-one thanks to Khizanishvili's terrible attempted headed pass-back.
Amidst the frenetic pace, Carroll kept his head and showed impressive reflexes to palm clear Zamora's misdirected defensive header from Pedersen's corner, and the former Manchester United keeper was lucky not to be tested again when Dickov blasted high over the bar after skipping neatly inside Dailly.
Rovers again edged in front though, as Kuqi capitalised on some dismal defending. The former Ipswich man freed himself from the attentions of Dailly and waltzed past a hesitant Konchesky and a flailing Ferdinand, and hammered his shot in off the underside of the bar.
Having regained their lead Blackburn were determined not to lose it, and when Friedel pushed his luck by making a meal of a Matthew Etherington cross he was wildly rebuked by team-mate Savage. However the American keeper was not ready to be intimidated and barged the Welshman into submission.
A flurry of bookings followed in a tense and physical finish, with Carroll felling Pedersen despite the whistle having been blown, but Blackburn held on to record a valuable win that ended their poor form and profligacy in front of goal.
Blackburn v West Ham player ratings.
|Blackburn Rovers||Team Statistics||West Ham United|
|4||Shots on Target||3|
|6||Shots off Target||3|
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Bromwich Albion||38||49|
|10||West Ham United||38||46|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||25|