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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 May, 2003, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
West Ham relegated
West Ham players show their unity before the game
West Ham unite in their plight
Birmingham 2-2 West Ham

West Ham suffered the agony of relegation to Division One after Bolton beat Middlesbrough to preserve their own Premiership status.

The Hammers bowed out of the top flight bravely, with Paolo Di Canio making another dramatic late entry to restore parity for the Londoners.

But West Ham, for whom Les Ferdinand opened the scoring, were never in charge of their own destiny, relying on Middlesbrough to defeat Sam Allardyce's men.

Moments before Bolton took the lead in their game, Birmingham defender Matthew Upson burst one of the balloons that had accompanied Christophe Dugarry's signing of a two-year deal to stay at St Andrews.

It was a symbolic act that drew comparison with West Ham's own anthem "I'm forever blowing bubbles".

I don't think you could say we were not good enough - we looked like a Premiership side out there and I don't know how we didn't win it
West Ham's Trevor Brooking

Ultimately, West Ham's dreams of staying in the Premiership faded the minute Per Frandsen struck for Bolton.

Caretaker manager Trevor Brooking could only look on in despair from the sidelines, the Upton Park hero unable to engineer what would surely have been one of football's greatest escapes.

No team that has been bottom of the table at Christmas has survived the drop and the Hammers could not buck that trend despite taking 19 points from their last 10 games.

HAMMERS' HELL
8 mins: Defoe wastes a glorious opportunity
10 mins: Bolton take the lead
21 mins: Okocha doubles Bolton's lead
66 mins: Ferdinand fires West Ham into the lead
76 mins: Kanoute's volley hits the post
79 mins: Horsfield shatters Hammers' hopes
87 mins: John fires Birmingham ahead
89 mins: Di Canio restores parity for West Ham

And the end of West Ham's 10-season sojourn in the top flight comes at heavy price, with the debt-ridden club expected to lose a hefty 10m in television revenue.

For their part, Birmingham can bask in the glory of finishing above rivals Aston Villa.

Geoff Horsfield and Stern John grabbed the goals that earned Birmingham a point, thereby ending an excellent first season back in the big time on a high note.

Brooking kept faith with the side that had beaten Chelsea so dramatically last week.

The attacking triumvirate of Frederic Kanoute, Jermain Defoe and Ferdinand initially posed the Birmingham defence all kinds of problems.

Defoe wasted a glorious opportunity to open the scoring for the visitors, dithering over Ferdinand's through ball when an instinctive first-time shot was required.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Birmingham took heed of the early warning and proceeded to play the better football in what was an entertaining opening period.

Dugarry showed the touches of class that have so endeared him to the Birmingham fans and it was the hosts who ended the first half in the ascendancy.

After the interval, West Ham laid seige to the Birmingham goal and finally got the breakthrough they deserved when Ferdinand expertly headed in Joe Cole's cross from the left.

The visitors were buoyed by their opener and Kanoute almost doubled their advantage only to see his brilliant volley strike the post.

With only 10 minutes remaining, Horsfield and substitute John then broke West Ham's hearts, before Di Canio struck late on - a goal that proved scant consolation.

West Ham fans will be left to reflect on a season that promised much following their seventh-placed finish last year, yet delivered nothing but heartache.

The scenes of despair at St Andrews were in stark contrast to the jubilant atmosphere at Bolton, who can look forward to another season in the Premiership.

First Division football now beckons for West Ham.

But that is not the only thing on the horizon as the Premiership vultures begin to circle the likes of Defoe, Cole, Michael Carrick and Glen Johnson.


Birmingham: Bennett, Kenna (Devlin 73), Purse, Upson, Clapham, Damien Johnson, Savage, Clemence, Lazaridis (Hughes 73), Dugarry (John 63), Horsfield.
Subs Not Used: Marriott, Michael Johnson.

Booked: Clemence.

West Ham: James, Repka, Dailly, Brevett (Di Canio 82), Johnson, Sinclair, Lomas, Cole (Hutchison 87), Defoe, Les Ferdinand, Kanoute.
Subs Not Used: Van Der Gouw, Cisse, Moncur.

Booked: Brevett.

Attendance: 29,505.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's Mike Ingham
"Birmingham were committed opponents"


West Ham caretaker boss Trevor Brooking
"In the end our result didn't matter"


VOTE RESULTS
Will West Ham bounce straight back into the Premiership?
Yes
 50.69% 
No
 49.31% 
37422 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


BIRMINGHAM CITY

WEST HAM UNITED

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