West Ham 2 Derby 1
An injury ravished West Ham started with Pantsil, Tomkins, Neill, and McCartney at the back. The supposedly rested for the rest of the season Faubert started in midfield with Noble, Parker and Ljungberg. Sears and Zamora started up front with Ashton, reportedly, ill with tonsillitis.
West Ham came out pretty fast and applied some early pressure. The best of the early chances were a Noble free-kick in the 8th minute and a Parker volley in the 14th minute. However Noble hit his free-kick rather tamely from 30 yards straight at Carroll and Parker's volley from the edge of the area flew way over.
In the 17th minute Noble crossed into the box from the right and Tomkins got his head to the ball but couldn't keep his effort down. The ease with which Tomkins got to the ball was a warning to Derby and just four minutes later McCartney curled a free-kick from the right and Zamora easily slipped away from Leacock before heading home from six yards.
After the goal Derby began to apply a little pressure of their own. In the 28th minute Mears broke to the byline on the right wing and cut the ball back but no-one from Derby anticipated his ball. A minute later Mears again got a cross in from the right. This time the ball was cleared to Savage on the edge of the box but Parker closed him down well before he can shoot.
Two minutes later Derby won a corner which found its way to Kenny Miller who shot left-footed from the centre of the penalty area from twelve yards but his shot flew wide right.
In the 37th minute Zamora broke free and stroked the ball into the back of the net with his left foot but was given a dodgy offside. Two minutes after that Savage's head connected with a left wing Jones cross which Green did well to tip over the bar.
Derby continued to apply some pressure and won a few corners for their efforts before the ref finally blew for half-time.
The second half started lively. In the 47th minute Mears won a free-kick on the edge of the West Ham area. The free-kick was blocked and West Ham quickly broke leading to a Sears cross that slid right across the goal. In the 49th minute Parker had a low left footed effort from the edge of the box pass just wide of the left post.
In the next five minutes of play Derby forced a number of corners, which West Ham dealt with reasonably well. However in the 64th minute Derby broke quickly from a West Ham corner and Mears was played clear and managed to shoot home from the edge of the penalty area.
Pretty soon after that the inevitable boos began. In the 69th minute Ljungberg was played clear and then seemed go down a little easy on the edge of the Derby box with Savage at his back - the ref gave nothing.
In the 70th minute Zamora received a cross from the right wing about two yards out but scuffed his shot and missed when it looked easier to score. After that a couple of unforced errors by Zamora and McCartney led to chants of 'you don't know what you're doing'.
That seemed to spur some of the players into action. In the 76th minute Ljungberg passed the ball to Noble and Noble slipped the ball inside a Derby defender, Ljungberg ran onto the ball and crossed the ball into the box for a simple tap in for Cole.
Derby failed to respond to West Ham's second goal until the 91st minute when first Savage headed over from six yards and then about a minute later Miller turned and shot weakly at Green from eight yards.
In the end it was an unconvincing win for West Ham, which will have done little to appease the Curbishley doubters.