A goal from Carlton Cole was enough to see an unimpressive West Ham to a 2-1 win over Premiership punchbag Derby County here on Saturday to bring to an end a run of three successive defeats.
West Ham – who are mired in mid-table mediocrity – made heavy going of seeing off a side who have garnered just 11 points and have not registered an away win in a campaign that has seen them labelled as the worst team ever in the Premiership.
The Hammers had taken the lead after 20 minutes when a totally unmarked Bobby Zamora, who was given acres of space by Dean Leacock, popped up to head home making a mockery of Derby coach Paul Jewell’s decision to bring Leacock in ahead of Darren Moore.
While Zamora was putting himself about and had another goal disallowed later in the first-half it was his debutant strike partner 18-year-old Freddie Sears, who caught the eye causing the Rams defence all sorts of problems.
Derby, though, went very close to levelling matters in the 40th minute as former Wales international midfielder Robbie Savage produced a spectacular diving header only for Robert Green to touch it over the bar.
The visitors had more luck midway through the second-half when Mears worked a superb goal, seizing on Egyptian Hossam Ghaly’s through ball and sliding the ball under Green.
However, as has been traditional this season Derby’s defence handed back what their attack had created as in the 77th minute with the Hammers putting together a fine move started by Mark Noble, who fed Freddie Ljungberg and his pass was gratefully accepted by Cole, who bundled it into the net.
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