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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 March 2008, 16:57 GMT
West Ham 2-1 Blackburn
By Saj Chowdhury

Freddie Sears
Teenager Freddie Sears scored the winner on his debut
Substitute Freddie Sears' late goal on his first-team debut handed West Ham their first win in three games at the expense of Blackburn at Upton Park.

Rovers took the lead when Roque Santa Cruz converted Morten Gamst Pedersen's cross with a diving header.

England striker Dean Ashton equalised just before half-time when he slotted in from 12 yards out.

And with just 10 minutes remaining, 18-year-old Sears nodded in after Brad Friedel parried his initial shot.

It was a dream start to his career for Sears, but it was far from a dream start for the Hammers who had gone into their home match having lost the previous three by a 4-0 scoreline.

Their fortunes took another turn for the worse early in the match when Santa Cruz added a lovely finish to Pedersen's ball following a lightning counterattack.


Prior to the goal, the Hammers looked the more likely to score with Ashton guilty of fluffing up his lines on a couple of occasions.

His first chance came from a wicked Nolberto Solano free-kick that he failed to connect with inside the six-yard area and the second from Bobby Zamora's right-wing delivery that was headed wide from close range.

However five minutes before half-time Ashton cannily flicked the ball round a static Christopher Samba, before sidefooting his shot past the American Friedel from 10 yards.

Upton Park has not been a happy hunting ground for Blackburn this century - they have lost their last seven matches at the Boleyn Ground.

The visitors had a great chance to end their hoodoo but Pedersen fired wildly over after finding himself free, eight yards out.

He and his team were left to rue the miss when club-prodigy Sears, who had been on for about five minutes, met Ashton's square ball and fired in a shot that Friedel could only push back into the path of the grateful striker.

His celebration was almost as good as the youngster crossed his arms to symbolise the Hammers' badge.

  • West Ham manager Alan Curbishley on Freddie Sears:

    "He's got a debut to dream about. Someone said the drinks are on him, but I'm not sure if he can get in the pub.

    "He's been here forever. I saw a bit of him last year, and he's come on a bundle since pre-season and has been training with the first team. Everyone has to be given a chance.

    "With the three 4-0s we needed to get a result. I wasn't oblivious to that."

  • Blackburn manager Mark Hughes:

    "We allowed West Ham back into a game we felt quite comfortable in.

    "We didn't seem in danger, without reaching a decent level ourselves. Maybe there wasn't enough drive in our game to see it out and win it.

    "We seem to be the right team at the right time for West Ham - we've done it again for them."

    West Ham: Green, Neill, Ferdinand, Spector, McCartney, Solano (Sears 75), Parker (Noble 75), Mullins, Ljungberg (Pantsil 88), Ashton, Zamora.
    Subs Not Used: Wright, Tomkins.

    Booked: Ferdinand.

    Goals: Ashton 39, Sears 81.

    Blackburn: Friedel, Emerton (Khizanishvili 46), Samba, Ooijer, Warnock, Bentley, Reid, Dunn (Derbyshire 71), Pedersen (McCarthy 90), Roberts, Santa Cruz.
    Subs Not Used: Brown, Mokoena.

    Booked: Bentley, Dunn, Reid.

    Goals: Santa Cruz 19.

    Att: 34,006

    Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

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