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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 20, 2008

Fans clash as West Ham beats Crew 3-1

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A halftime brawl between more than 100 fans during an exhibition match Sunday between West Ham United of the English Premier League club and the MLS' Columbus Crew won't mar the rest of the British soccer club's trip through North America, a team executive said Monday.

West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury said the brawl was isolated and shouldn't overshadow the club's trip to the United States. He said the team condemns the fans' actions.

The fights, which came during West Ham United's 3-1 win, began when a handful of West Ham supporters, some wearing the team's claret and blue colors, entered the northeast corner of the stadium where the Crew's most boisterous supporters typically gather.

"While we take such matters seriously and utterly condemn the actions of those involved, we must not let this mar what has been a positive trip so far and the excellent way we and our supporters have been treated in Columbus," Duxbury said.

Crew supporters began directing chants toward the rival fans, and fights quickly broke out between more than 100 Crew fans and at least 30 West Ham fans. Columbus police officers and Crew Stadium security staff eventually separated the groups.

Highway Patrol officers arrested one fan outside the stadium for disorderly conduct, Patrol spokeswoman Anne Ralston said. A dispatcher didn't know whether Columbus police had made any arrests inside the stadium.

West Ham forward Dean Ashton scored the game's first goal, a blistering low shot that flew past Andy Gruenebaum in the sixth minute.

Forward Jason Garey put Columbus on the scoreboard in the 20th minute, leaping to head home a bending crossing pass from Cory Elenio.

Crew midfielder Brad Evans inadvertently doubled West Ham's advantage by scoring into his own goal in the 26th minute. Kyle Reid completed the scoring for West Ham with a close-range goal in the 53rd minute.

"It was a terrific game for us. We needed that sort of a workout," West Ham manager Alan Curbishley said. "We took the MLS game because we wanted to come to America. We wanted to show people what we're about."

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