WEST HAM UNITED
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BIRMINGHAM CITY : Canon League Division One
Manager : John Lyall
Goalkeeper "carrying" law again changed to read: "From the moment he takes control of the ball with his hands, he takes more than four steps in any direction whilst holding, bouncing or throwing the ball in the air and^tching it again, without releasing it into play or, having released the ball into play during or after the four steps he touches it again with his hands before it has been touched or played by another player of the same team outside the penalty-area or by a player of the opposing team either inside or outside of the penalty-area, he shall be penalised by the award of an indirect free-kick.
New signings were made with the acquisition of winger Mark Ward and striker Frank McAvennie. It was a poor start with only one win in the first seven games but in that spell McAvennie scored six goals and set up an exciting partnership with Tony Cottee. The Hammers then went 18 successive league games without defeat until they lost 1–0 at Tottenham on Boxing Day. The run included a victory over champions Everton, five successive away wins and four goals against Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion. Tony Gale and Alvin Martin were strong at the back and Alan Devonshire was back to his best following his long injury lay-off.
In that period the League Cup brought a 6–2 aggregate win over Swansea City, with the Hammers going out after a 1–0 setback at Manchester United. West ham went into the New Year in third spot and then began their FA Cup run. There was a lucky 1–0 win at Charlton followed by a three-match marathon with Ipswich Town. A late goal from Tony Cottee in the snow put the Hammers through to the fifth round where the Hammers were paired with cup holders Manchester United. In a superb display at Old Trafford they won 1–0, but three days later a jaded display saw West Ham go out of the competition after losing 2–1 at Sheffield Wednesday.
Two vital league games were then lost at Arsenal and Aston Villa, results that may have cost West Ham the title. At Easter further victories over London rivals Tottenham and Chelsea were gained, the 4–0 win at Stamford Bridge being particularly rewarding. With four home games to play in only nine days the team needed some luck and determination. First Newcastle United were annihilated 8–1, then narrow 1–0 wins were gained against Coventry and Manchester City. The final home game of the season saw Ray Stewart score a dramatic late penalty to give the Hammers a 2–1 victory against Ipswich Town. On the final Saturday of the season West Ham won 3–2 at West Bromwich Albion to clinch third place in the table. This proved to be West Ham’s finest season and highest league placing in the top flight.