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JUNIOR'S JUMPING.

Byline: ALISTAIR GRANT

WEST HAM 2 Stanislas 42, Tomkins 53

SUNDERLAND 0

GIANFRANCO ZOLA saluted his "best West Ham win" after academy stars Junior Stanislas and James Tomkins' first senior goals boosted their European push.

Sunderland were left facing a relegation battle, although Hammers boss Zola had a worry of his own when Jonathan Spector was taken to hospital with a head injury.

England Under-20 winger Stanislas, 19, making his first West Ham start, finished off a sensational move for his 42nd-minute goal.

It took just 10 seconds from when keeper Robert Green fed Luis Boa Morte for the ball to find the net.

Diego Tristan and David Di Michele were involved before Boa Morte laid on Stanislas' tap-in.

Centre-back Tomkins, 20, made it 2-0 after 53 minutes, beating Sunderland's former Hammers defender Anton Ferdinand to Mark Noble's corner and burying his header into the bottom corner.

Spector's injury took the shine off the win, the American defender needing seven minutes' treatment and a stretcher after challenging Tal Ben Haim for an aerial ball midway through the second half. He was kept in hospital overnight as a precaution.

Zola, whose side are seventh - the last Europa League spot - after five league games unbeaten, said: "Spector's got concussion. He couldn't remember much but was fine and laughing.

Carlton Cole has added to Hammers' in jury list after his brief appearance for England in midweek but Zola added: "Today was our best victory of all. It was totally unexpected after the difficulties of the international break.

"To see players like Stanislas and Tomkins was amazing and they can help us achieve what we want to achieve."

The Black Cats, without a win in six games, are three points above the drop zone and manager Ricky Sbragia said: "It will be difficult. We can't depend on other teams.

"We're not the most prolific team but we need to start scoring soon - and to stop conceding them. The first goal was down to bad defending, and in the second half the last thing we needed was to concede early."

Sunderland bossed the first half-hour, Grant Leadbitter forcing Green into two saves.

At the other end Di Michele fizzed a 20-yarder wide before Herita Ilunga sliced a bouncing ball wide from six yards.

Visiting skipper Dean Whitehead was lucky to earn only a booking for flooring Boa Morte with a horror tackle across the winger's knees.

After Stanislas' superb goal, Di Michele curled wide but Tomkins' meaty header put the game beyond the Black Cats.

It could have been a lot worse had Craig Gordon not kept them in the game with three saves in 30 seconds just after the hour.

He clawed away Matthew Upson's header and from the resulting corner, parried Tomkins' header then saved Boa Morte's follow-up drive..

DID YOU KNOW?

Julio Arca and Stephen Elliott struck for Sunderland the last time the Black Cats won at Upton Park, a 2-1 victory back in April 2005.

BEST BET

The Hammers are off to White Hart Lane on Saturday, but it's forecast to be Tottenham's day at 4/7. Spurs comfortably took the reverse 2-0 and that was when Gianfranco Zola had two strikers to rub together. Time to get your shorts on, Franco!

CAPTION(S):

YOUTH OPPORTUNITY: Junior Stanislas shows the continuing strength of the Hammers academy by scoring on his first start
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 5, 2009
Words:561
Previous Article:PETER OUCH; England hero is Pompey villain after vital miss.
Next Article:Gunn's men on the edge after Johnson strike.


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