Saturday 27 April 2013
Premierleague.com rifles through the annals of the Barclays Premier League to find significant events.
Trevor Brooking’s first game in charge as caretaker manager of West Ham United ended happily as Frederic Kanoute’s late winner boosted the Hammers’ survival prospects.
The match came after a fraught few days at West Ham, whose manager Glenn Roeder had suffered a sudden stroke in midweek. With the Londoners lying third from bottom in the Barclays Premier League and five points from safety with three matches to go, director Brooking stepped into the breach to try to guide his side out of trouble.
"I remember missing an absolute sitter from about a yard out. I hit the post. How I missed, I’ll never know!"
Perhaps inspired by the Hammers legend, West Ham started well, with Jermain Defoe twice testing Peter Schmeichel in the opening eight minutes, but they required Rufus Brevett’s goal-line clearance to avoid going behind after David James had spilled a Nicolas Anelka shot.
Les Ferdinand then passed up three chances to score before being carried off on a stretcher on 55 minutes after a challenge by Schmeichel.
By then Brooking had gone for broke by bringing on Kanoute as a third striker at half-time, and it paid off. With nine minutes remaining the Mali forward popped up to bundle the ball over the line.
Don Hutchison takes up the story: "I can remember missing an absolute sitter from about a yard out. I hit the post. How I missed that, I’ll never know! It came to me so quick, but it was easier to score than miss. Luckily, though, it hit the post and landed right at Fredi Kanoute’s feet for a tap-in. That was such a valuable three points."
This second successive 1-0 win in a sequence of nine matches with only one defeat offered renewed hope for the season's climax, as did West Ham's subsequent 1-0 defeat of Chelsea a week later that lifted them out of the bottom three.
"We always thought we had a good chance of staying up because we were never really adrift and we were playing some good football," Hutchison said. "We knew with the players we had we could beat anyone on our day but we had some poor games. We went to Blackburn and lost 7-0 and got done 5-0 at Everton. With the same side the previous season we had been absolutely flying."
Barclays Premier League survival would hinge on the final match of the season, but a 2-2 draw at Birmingham City condemned the Hammers to the second tier.
Kevin Keegan's City recovered from this defeat to finish the season two places better off, in ninth.