Sunday, 26th September 2010
Lasagne-gate I missed because ESM Jnr was playing in a cup final that day and I had to be there instead. I was at the Cradle of Filth when Anton got that joyous last gasp equaliser a few seasons back, but let’s face it a win is what you want to witness. With every fibre of your being.
ESM Jnr has secured state-sponsored partying (aka university) this year, and has had his head turned by the prospect of beach volleyball with nubile ladies on the golden beaches of Bournemouth. But even the many pleasures of the Dorset Riviera were not going to deter him from shelling out 30 notes of his student loan on a train journey to see the game despite having a fitful two hours’ kip.
Also in attendance was the incomparable Oxford Fred who has rather shamefacedly had to admit to me that he not only has a kangaroo-shagging convict lodger but also a Spud as well. He needs to have a good look at himself. On what basis do you willingly introduce a bagel-muncher into your gaffe? What the f*ck do you talk about without coming to blows? Flower arranging maybe? Even then I bet the c*nt would want a display in navy blue. No, it’s just wrong.
An interesting West Ham selection was laid before us in the pleasant Autumnal sunshine. Jacobsen, Upson, Da Costa and Gabbidon across the back. Dyer, Noble, Parker and Boa across the middle and Obinna and Piquionne leading the line.
Confidence can be an elusive thing, but the opening part of the game indicated that we seemed to have more of it than the enemy. In a sign of things to come, Piquionne won a header in the very first minute to set Obinna on his way. This bloke loves to shoot with only the slightest encouragement but he skewed his effort wide.
Noble conceded a foul about 25 yards out on 4 minutes, but Van der Faart’s dead ball attempt was deflected wide by the wall. Dyer – a man who last season you wondered whether you’d ever see again in competitive football -was really looking the part down the right. A throw in on seven minutes saw him in oodles of space and he blasted a shot just wide. Just after this the silky skills of Boa were on display as he back-heeled a pass to Dyer who could only manage a weak shot at Cudicini.
Piquionne has a lot of trickery in confined space and he mugged a defender near the corner and hit a half decent shot requiring a solid save. The shots were raining in and just after Piquionne’s effort, Obinna turned well to get another one on target. But it was not all one way traffic as Jenas hit a vicious shot from 30 yards out on 14 minutes. It must have swerved in the air, as Green looked half deceived and responded with a less than convincing parry.
The lacklustre start from the visitors appeared to have their manager somewhat unnerved and this was spotted by the Bobby Moore Lower who sang "Twitch in a minute, you’re gonna twitch in a minute" and "Harry, Harry give us a twitch."
Modric – a player that Oxford Fred says I admire too much (“Martin, shut the f*ck up about that little Croatian tw*t) - then went on a trademark mazy run on 20 minutes and laid off a ball to Van der Vaart, a man whose mental health must be in question given his inexplicable decision to ruin his career by joining the Spuds. V der F has a helluva shot at his disposal and an arrowing effort at the top left hand corner of the West Ham goal required a very good turn round the post by Rob Green. V der F was at it again a couple of minutes later when another left foot shot just fizzed past the right hand post.
The N17 Numpties won a corner on 27 minutes but as the ball broke free, Parker orchestrated a surge forward by feeding Dyer who won a corner. From that corner – joy of joys – Piquionne leapt and managed to loop a header into the top left corner. Cue wild and unrestrained celebrations in the East Stand.
It could have been 2-0 just four minutes later when the excellent Dyer played a superb one-two with Jacobsen to advance menacingly on goal. It was a free shot but it was skewed poorly wide.
Mark Noble was having an impressive game with a superb workrate. His intervention in the box to stop Modric was crucial on 34 minutes. Parker was not to be outdone in the determination stakes, and never gave up on the ball as he surged forward, winning a corner at the end.
On 37 minutes West Ham looked undone as the midfield failed to deal with clearance from a free kick conceded by Boa. Lennon – largely absent until this point – shot down the wing and got over what looked like a perfect pass to the waiting Modric in the box. A first time effort from near the penalty spot was miraculously saved by Green, somehow pushing the ball onto the bar. The danger was not over as Modric retrieved the ball and created havoc with his magical feet ('Martin, I aint gonna tell ya again') in the box, but again the ball was kept out in a goalmouth scramble.
Just before the end of the half Dyer seemed to stumble and then looked in trouble. This led to the introduction of Barrera. Jacobsen, who looks very solid and mobile then made an outstanding late tackle on 42 minutes to deny Crouch at the far post as a diagonal pass was intelligently sent in. The final action of the half saw Jenas poleaxed by a shot from Noble in the chops after good work by Obinna.
At half time I was wondering what the catch was with the new plasma tellys that have been introduced in the East Stand concourse. All became clear, as there was no prospect of finding out any scores with the looped presentation of various ads extolling the virtues of a holiday in Cyprus amongst other things. Call me old fashioned but I like to see what is going on with other games at half time, not see various scantily clad bints paddling through the azure waters of the Mediterranean.
There’s no doubt that the start of the second half saw the Irons immediately under the cosh. The chunky Huddlestone was the first to have ago on 51 minutes, but his apparently goal-bound half volley hit one of his own team mates and deflected wide. He then had a second, more golden opportunity a few minutes later as a defence-splitting pass by V der F set him free and running in on goal. His shot went badly wide when hitting the target was an absolute must.
It took ten minutes of play before West Ham turned up when Obinna made a perfectly timed run to beat the offside trap. Unfortunately, Cudicini just beat Piquionne to his squared pass in the box. Parker was on hand to pick things up again and he managed to get around the back of the Spuds defence, but there was no one around to latch onto the pass he slotted across the six yard line.
Fred the head
Piquionne won yet another header on the hour to very nearly create a goal for Obinna, but his lob shot was deflected for a corner. By now the striker was not moving very well following a knock and he was replaced to much warm applause on 63 minutes by Carlton Cole. Just after the change, Boa hit a great ball over the top to release Obinna in the box. He was under pressure and being forced wide but hit a great shot which Cudicini did well to say one handed down at the base of the left hand post.
Lennon virtually won the game for his team at the Boleyn Ground last season but he hardly made a mark on the game this time and was replaced by Keane on 65 minutes. Another Spur gone missing was Bale, who Oxford Fred also feels gets too much praise from 'those w*nkers on Talksport'. He made a laughable error on 73 minutes to concede a corner. The clearance fell to the feet of the industrious Noble who spanked a wonderful shot from 28 yards which Cudicini managed to tip over one-handed.
While both Modric and V der F had looked dangerous in the first half, their contribution was much diminished in the second period and the Dutchman was replaced by Dos Santos on 77 minutes. Another good chance for West Ham followed as Barrera found space down the right and a pass into the box led to pinball and ricochet which was eventually cleared by the Spud defence.
The last roll of the dice by Redknapp was on 83 minutes when he took Crouch off and sent on Pavlyuchenko who immediately won a free kick in a central position about 28 yards out. The free kick was truly awful. The Spuds looked mashed and the rest of ordinary time plus three minutes was played out relatively comfortably to a growing crescendo of noise from the celebratory Hammers fans.
The whistle sparked the most uplifting sound heard at the Boleyn Ground for some time – a roar of victory and acclaim for a West Ham team that had played with no fear. It was a terrific team performance – solid in defence, hardworking in midfield and threatening up front and down the flanks. Real energy and tempo. The Spurs were outplayed from start to finish and sent packing.
What a marvellous afternoon’s entertainment. That, my friends is where our season starts. Mark my words.
(Player ratings by Gordon Thrower)
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I think I vaguely recall him coming for one cross in the first half that he didn't look too convinced about. However the four proper saves he pulled off were breathtaking. There were a number of candidates for MOTM this week but given the rubbish that he's had to put up with since the summer, on balance I think I'll give it to our custodian.
It certainly makes a difference having a proper full-back in that slot. Solid in defence and supports the attack well – a nice little right side partnership with Dyer developing there if Dyer can stay fit/well.
Kept Lennon very quiet with the exception of the one run that ultimately produced Green's wonder save. One might think he'd let him past deliberately so that Green could show off!
Benefits immesurably from having a strong partner alongside him. Like Da Costa. I believe that Grant may have, at last, settled upon our best central defensive pairing.
Manuel Da Costa
His absence from the team at the start of the season was something that baffled me a bit. His type of player brings the best out of Upson and he had a fine match in his own right.
Not many plaudits from the papers this weekend from the player they think is our skipper. Nevertheless it was another fine performance from our “not the captain” albeit one that was overshadowed by more eye-catching stints from others.
It wasn't all that long ago that the received wisdom was that Noble and Parker couldn't play together. They look like they work well together to me. Unlucky not to score and sent over some excellent corners – including the one that led to the goal.
Luis Boa Morte
Excellent work-rate – ran his socks off and, if his distribution was occasionally less than perfect, this shouldn't detract from what was a fine match.
Possibly the unluckiest player in football. Gets back to full fitness, has a decent 40 minutes then succumbs to a stomach bug.
Strong candidate for MOTM – full of running and a constant worry to the Spurs defence. His corners are a bit variable though.
I like the look of the Piquionne/Obinna partnership. He was one of the few players to impress in a wretched season at Fratton Park last year and his form has carried over to this term. If only he were a few years younger!
(Replaced Dyer, 42 mins) Took over from where Dyer left off. Some fine tricky runs from deep not only relieved what little pressure there might have been but also set up some decent chances.
(Replaced Piquionne, 64 mins) Provided a different sort of outlet to Piquionne who he replaced. Very harshly booked for being wrestled to the ground by a defender.
(Replaced Obinna, 89 mins) Replaced Obinna at the end in an attempt to run down the clock. Not sure if he actually touched the ball.
Did not play.
Tal Ben Haim
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Man of the Match: Robert Green.
West Ham United
Robert Green, Lars Jacobsen, Danny Gabbidon, Matthew Upson, Manuel Da Costa, Scott Parker, Mark Noble, Luis Boa Morte, Keiron Dyer, Victor Obinna, Frederic Piquionne.
Goals: Frederic Piquionne 29 .
Booked: Luis Boa Morte 38 Carlton Cole 90 .
Sent off: None.
Cudicini, Hutton, Corluka, Bassong, Bale, Lennon, Jenas, Huddlestone, Modric, Van der Vaart, Crouch.
Substitutes: Keane (Lennon 66), Giovani (Van der Vaart 78), Pavlyuchenko (Crouch 80).
Subs not used: Pletikosa, Palacios, Sandro, Kranjcar.
Sent Off: None.