West Ham United 3 Nottingham Forest 2

Last updated : 26 December 2004 By Footymad Previewer
Just when it looked like his old side were about to put Alan Pardew under yet more pressure, two-goal Teddy Sheringham popped up to give his manager a belated Christmas present with an 82nd minute winner in this festive thriller.

Caretaker-boss Mick Harford may have brought Forest into this Boxing Day clash in 22nd spot, but despite being up in the comparative heady heights of sixth spot, his counterpart Pardew came into this Boxing Day encounter under equal scrutiny.

For following 14 forlorn months at the Upton Park helm, many expectant East End observers had given the Hammers boss just the four holiday period matches to finally prove that he can get Hammers season back on track if he is to avoid joining Santa with the sack.

And, fortunately for Pardew, he found seasonal good will in abundance in this first test.

Indeed, after Michael Dawson's early steamrollering header was disallowed for a push and Neil Harris came within a stud of slide-tackling Hammers keeper Stephen Bywater, West Ham took a fortuitous 16th-minute lead.

Having earlier foiled another former Forest striker - Marlon Harewood - with a full-length parry, red-faced Paul Gerrard drilled his attempted upfield clearance against the charging Matthew Etherington and the ball ricocheted into the net off the Hammers' winger's backside from eight yards.

Sheringham was then denied as Gerrard went some way towards restoring his own confidence with a fine save, before partner Harewood stabbed wide as both strikers raced to get on the scoresheet against their old club.

That was a contest destined to be comfortably settled by Sheringham when he doubled West Ham's lead on 38 minutes with a fierce, rising, six-yarder which flew in-off the crossbar after Malky Mackay flicked on Etherington's inswinging left-wing corner.

Just after the restart, the hard-working Harewood was twice denied by a pair of acrobatic Gerrard stops which were to prove invaluable as Harford's men rustled up a recovery from nowhere.

And, ironically, it was to be Harewood's old Forest strike-partner David Johnson who was to turn the game upside down with two goals inside three minutes midway through the second half.

First, he slid Harris' deft nod down over the line after Shaun Derry crossed into the six-yard box.

Then, shortly afterwards, the same combination Johnson to pull his side level after Harris invited him to burst down the left and coolly claim his sixth goal of the season with a low, angled 15-yarder which scorched across Bywater into the far corner of the net.

Apart from the sporadic, disgruntled chants of 'Are you Roeder in disguise?' aimed at Pardew, the East End was in stunned silence.

But with eight minutes remaining, that old, experienced head of Sheringham gave his boss some respite when he outjumped Dawson to head home Chris Powell's left-wing cross and dampen the Forest fire with his tenth goal of the campaign.