Barnes finds scoring touch

 

JOHN BARNES grabbed his first goal for eight months as below par Liverpool kept their faint championship hopes alive.

The former England midfielder had not scored since grabbing a glorious brace at Tottenham back in August.

But after Stan Collymore had crashed home his 18th goal of the season to put Roy Evans' understrength side on their way, 32 year old Barnes settled what at the tame did not seem likely to be a contest with the 38th minute second.

Collymore was creator this time, sprinting down the left past Tim Breacker, and when he delivered a near post cross, Barnes got a touch to turn the ball home.

Harry Redknapp's side were the better team after the interval, but it was too little too late, for if ever Liverpool had a look of insecurity it was in this game.

Suspensions and injuries meant no Neil Ruddock, Mark Wright, Phil Babb, Steve Harkness or Rob Jones, Evans playing Dominic Matteo, Michael Thomas and Stig Bjornebye in a makeshift back division.

But the Hammers mindful of the fact they had not won at Anfield since 1963-64, had only Iain Dowie up front and caution undid them.

Collymore pulled a stunner out of the top drawer to put Liverpool ahead in the 22nd minute.

There seemed little on when the £8.5 million man picked the ball up 30 yards out with eight defenders in front of him.

But Collymore cared little for that, breezing past Danny Williamson and unleashing a thunderbolt which Miklosko could only push into the corner of the net.

Jamie Redknapp had a shot saved by Miklosko but it was only delaying the inevitable as Barnes obliged.

West Ham were a different side after the break, Robbie Slater going close with a cross shot then Dowie, found by Rowland, beating James but not Matteo.

But the altered approach left gaps at the back which nearly brought a third as Liverpool belatedly started to play, but Rowland desperately stretched out to deny Fowler - and nearly poked the hall into his own net.