Cottee dismissal mars Hammers day

Tony Cottee was sensationally sent off at Anfield in the first game since his return to West Ham but his battling team-mates ended Liverpool's winning start to the season after they had chances to pull off a shock victory.

Cottee, who came back to Upton Park in a swap deal that took David Burrows to Everton, was shown the red card by referee Paul Danson nine minutes into the second-half for a hot-headed retaliatory lunge at Liverpool's England full-back Rob Jones.

Incensed at the referee's refusal to award him a free-kick for Jones' challenge just seconds earlier, Cottee went clattering into the defender as he tried to carry the ball away to start another Liverpool attack.

Cottee, obviously contrite, turned to go towards Jones who was flat out in agony but was eventually persuaded to leave the pitch by Liverpool's first team coach Ronnie Moran and other members of the home side's bench.

With West Ham having produced an enterprising first-half performance, in which Cottee and Martin Allen were always lively raiders, Cottee's dismissal seemed a signal at last for Liverpool to build on three previous victories.

But although West Ham goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko twice kept out fierce long-range blasts by Norwegian left back Stig Inge Bjornebye and was beaten by a John Barnes rocket that came back off a post, Liverpool could not find the finish to add to the 11 goals they had scored against Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Southampton.

Young goal ace Robbie Fowler also clipped the bar in another moment of anxiety for the Hammers but Harry Redknapp's side had a string of opportunities to score at the other end.

Allen and Matthew Rush were guilty of wasting close-range chances before Tim Breacker sent a glancing header just wide from John Moncur's corner.

In the last 15 minutes, the depleted Hammers settled for deep defence as Liverpool poured forward but they almost grabbed a breakaway winner after Jan Molby's goalbound shot was blocked by Steve Potts.

In a lightning breakaway, Matthew Rush raced down the right and put over a low cross which Moncur hit first time, forcing a diving save by goalkeeper David James.

In the eight minutes that remained, Liverpool threw everything at the reinforced West Ham defence with 3.2 million pound centre back John Scales joining in the attack on his debut. But with the other expensive signing Phil Babb left on the substitutes bench, it finished up a day of anti-climax for the home fans in a near 31,000 crowd.

Copyright - British Soccer Week

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