SINCE its formation way back in 1895, West Ham United have forged a reputation as a football club that plays the game in the right way.

Under such legends as Ron Greenwood, John Lyall and Harry Redknapp, The Academy became synonymous with slick, passing, attack-minded football.

Well, I am sorry, but Alan Curbishley is rapidly consigning that century of tradition to the dustbin in favour of dire, long-ball, defensive football of the very lowest order.

On Saturday, Curbishley's free-falling Hammers went to the Reebok Stadium and did an extremely bad impression of their hosts.

While both sides lumped long balls, throw-ins, corners and free-kicks into their opponents' penalty areas with rare abandon, it was only relegation-haunted Bolton who looked interested in using such direct tactics to their advantage.

While home striker Kevin Davies shrugged off the pain of a dislocated finger to put in a heroic, man-of-the-match display, the ineffective Dean Ashton simply stood and watched as Gary Cahill and Andy O'Brien headed clear every thoughtless punt launched into the Trotters' half.

It was the contrasting performances of the two lone-forwards that summed up the difference in this match.

This was, remember, a Wanderers team that had not tasted victory since February 2; who had scored just seven goals in their previous 12 matches and whose fans organised pre-match protests against beleaguered manager Gary Megson.

Despite their poor recent record, however, Megson's strugglers were the better, more effective, more confident team in almost all departments.

For all Curbishley's insistence that his side has not packed up early for their summer holidays, anyone at the Reebok would have seen compelling evidence that that is exactly the case.

Bolton wanted to win at all costs.

West Ham simply didn't care.