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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 October, 2003, 22:37 GMT 23:37 UK
Brooking hails Mellor brace
David Connolly, Jermain Defoe, Kevin Horlock and Neil Mellor
West Ham boss Trevor Brooking admitted he was relieved to see Neil Mellor get off the mark with two goals in the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Mellor, a loan signing from Liverpool, went into the game without a goal for the Hammers and very much in the shadow of leading strikers Jermain Defoe and David Connolly.

And with Defoe - who scored the opener - suspended from the next two matches against Derby and Norwich, and Connolly set to miss the Canaries' visit, Mellor will be expected to carry the scoring burden.

"I was pleased for Neil, especially as he was going to get a rollicking for not squaring the ball to David, so he got himself out of trouble," said Brooking.

"Jermain and David get quite a lot of the headlines but we often play with a three, and psychologically it was good for him.

We looked the more likely to score but then we committed suicide
Steve Kember,
Crystal Palace boss
"It's important because Jermain is suspended for the next two so Mellor can go into those on the up.

"Without Jermain there it was important for him to get off the mark and he's got an opportunity now to add a few more to the list. Strikers like to see a few goals to their name."

Palace manager Steve Kember played down suggestions his job could be under threat, despite the defeat leaving his side with just two points from seven matches.

"The only pressure I'm under is from the missus because I haven't taken her out this week!" said Kember.

"I thought we started well and looked the more likely to score but then we committed suicide. You can't give West Ham a chance like that.

"All three goals were down to us giving the ball away. I thought we controlled the game but we didn't do enough to get a goal.

"We were well beaten but we've got a good spirit in the club, and we'll be in tomorrow for the warm-down and we'll pick them up."

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