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FOOTBALL: Macclesfield 'nutter' leaves Moncur with a headache and red card; Macclesfield..0 West Ham........3.

Byline: David McDONNELL

JOHN MONCUR accused Macclesfield's Chris Byrne of head-butting him during an incident which sparked a 20-man brawl and marred this FA Cup tie.

Hammers star Moncur was sent off with ten minutes to go for fouling Byrne and then hauling up the midfielder by his shirt.

An ugly fracas ensued and television pictures clearly showed Byrne butt Moncur as referee Jeff Winter struggled to bring the incident under control.

Two goals from England under-21 star Jermain Defoe and a late strike from Joe Cole booked West Ham's place in the fourth round.

But Moncur's dismissal overshadowed the win and the midfielder was furious afterwards. "The ref booked me twice for one incident," he said. "It was fair enough for me to get booked for the foul, but I was only trying to pick the lad up. I just wanted to get on with the game. But all I got was two yellow cards and a head butt, all in the space of 30 seconds.

"The lad followed in and nutted me, no question. It all went off from there. We always knew it was going to be a battle but I thought the referee was a bit harsh.

"I am the type of player who will always get stuck in, but until that point I had not mistimed a single tackle. It was a disappointing end to a good afternoon's work."

Defoe opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time, then grabbed a second with a sublime 20-yard shot. Cole wrapped up the win with a low drive five minutes from time.

West Ham boss Glenn Roeder said: "The 3-0 scoreline looks like it was very easy but it was far from that.

"Jermain Defoe has got a bright future ahead of him. He took both goals really well."

Defoe said: "The manager told me at the start of the season that I would get a chance if there were injuries. That's happened and I would like to think I've done enough to keep my place in the side."

The question now must be - who needs Paolo Di Canio? Certainly if this was a glimpse of life after the Italian, then the West Ham faithful can still expect a rosy future.

In Defoe they have a player with the flair and goal-scoring ability to more than make up for the loss of their flamboyant playmaker. Manchester United target Di Canio cried off with a head cold and fellow first choice striker Freddie Kanoute with flu. But the clinical way Defoe grabbed seventh and eighth goals of the season confirmed his arrival on the big stage.

The Hammers are no strangers to FA Cup upsets, having been humbled by Newport, Wrexham, Swansea, Torquay and Tranmere in the past. For the first 45 minutes yesterday, it appeared Third Division strugglers Macclesfield were going to add their name to that list of giant-killers.

As early as the eighth minute Byrne gave West Ham a scare, shooting just over from long range. It was to prove the first of several chances for the home side, who put West Ham under relentless pressure midway through the first half.

England keeper David James was forced to make a superb save low to his left and in the 22nd minute, from a fierce Richie Tracey shot. West Ham weathered the storm yet when they took the lead on the stroke of half-time, it was down to Defoe's cool eye in front of goal rather than their dominance with the ball.

Full-back Sebastian Schemmel crossed from the right and Defoe showed all his poacher's instinct to get to the ball first and steer it past Steve Wilson.

In the second half, West Ham stepped up a gear and fully exposed the 77-place gulf that exists between the two sides.

With 13 minutes remaining Defoe won the ball and took a return pass before curling home from the edge of the box.

Despite Moncur's dismissal, West Ham who had the final say. Cole took the ball off ex-Hammer Kevin Keen before firing low past Wilson.MACCLESFIELD TOWN: Wilson 7, Hitchen 6, Tinson 6, Macauley 7, Adams 7, Priest 7 (Ridler 78), Keen 7, Byrne 6, Tracey 6 (McAvoy 65, 6), Glover 6, Lambert 7.

WEST HAM: James 7, Schemmel 7, Repka 6, Dailly 7 (Foxe 84), Winterburn 7, Hutchison 7, Cole 7, Moncur 7, Sinclair 6, Defoe 8, Kitson 6.

CAPTION(S):

PAIN GAME: Moncur holds his face after the melee; BYRNE UP: Moncur clashes with Byrne before the Hammers' midfielder was sent off for two yellow cards Pics: BRADLEY ORMESHER; ON THE SLIDE: John Moncur fouls Macclesfield's Chris Byrne to spark an amazing chain of events
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 7, 2002
Words:781
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