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Championship
Tuesday, 16th August 2011

Watford 0
West Ham United 4

by Brian Evans


Just got home from a reasonbly entertaining evening at Vicarage Road.

First, the good news...

We had awesome support which I would estimate, for the second game running, represented around a third of the gate. Fat Sam gave us a wave on request, Rob Green was happy to show the score at 3-0 and even Faubert got some praise by being told he was 'too good for Real Madrid' (which I personally think is a shame, such was the party mood in the travelling support).

On the pitch we saw Carlton get a start ahead of Piquionne who came on late on when the game was already won , and Kevin O'Brien getting his first goal for the Irons , our second of the night, at the end of the first half, after Tomkins had opened the scoring with a back post header from a Taylor corner. If you want to know what they do in training all week, there's your answer .

The second half saw the points secured as Cole opened his account for the season, converting a pass from Ilunga who was reguarly to be found in the attacking third of the field, in this case inside Watford's box. A neat finish, and at 3-0 the job was done.

The fourth came in the final minute when Scott Parker produced a neat step over, creating half a yard of space and struck the ball to Scott Loach's right , which was no more than he deserved following a superbly struck shot from 20 yards that had gone inches wide a minute or two earlier.

Kevin Nolan continued to lead by example, nothing flash, but basic things like creating a distraction for Loach in Watford's goal as Taylor struck a freekick; making himself 'big' when trying to block crosses into our box, whilst keeping his hands firmly behind his back - Lucas Neill style - to ensure no soft penalties are conceded .

Most of our decent football actually came when we were in possession on the edge of Watford's box, when some good passing between Parker, Nolan, Cole and Taylor frequently caused problems for the home teams defence. However it should be noted that for significant periods in both halves one or two players seemed too happy to either hit a channel ball to win a throw, or hit the target man, Cole, up the middle.

Not many fans were too concerned because we were winning, but some experienced observers took note. However with four good goals for us, and another clean sheet for Rob Green - given huge support all evening, little wonder after the superb save he made in the first half from a well struck shot - not too much bumping of gums was in evidence.

Aboudoule Faye came on for 25 minutes or so for some valuable pitch time. Speculation suggested that he must have been given Benni McCarthy's locker, complete with a lifetime's supply of Quality Street as opposed to Miniature Heroes. His performance could best be described as solid, but in fairness he was strong in the tackle and composed under pressure.

Now to the less good...

At times there were crosses coming into our box which were not dealt with appropriately, with the ball being allowed to bounce before being cleared out. Jack Collison had a tendency to drift inside causing a loss of shape. A distinct lack of width for around a 15-minute period in the first half would surely have tested the fans' patience had we not already been a goal up thanks to a well-worked set piece.

One booking was disappointing; Noble, who I think got it for kicking the ball away, but he could have had a couple of earlier yellows for his clumsy tackling style - straight from the Paul Scholes leave your foot in patented method. Whereas Joey O'Brien put in some robust challanges that reminded this observer of a bygone era: proper tackling, hard but fair.

Overall the side looked organised - little things like when Reid took some of Green's drink, Boffin carried a replacement bottle round to Green. Attention to detail, professionalism and good organisation.

If on occasion we play a little too directly, well providing we're winning not many will grumble - particularly if we beat sides of Watford's standard by four goals. They will be far from the worst side we will face this season.

But generally, the good exceeded the bad and for those who still think we need a 'proven' goalscorer, that's five goals in three games from five different players .

Dirty Leeds are next up on Sunday. A win at home against them and not many sides will relish a game against us - at least not while the side still features players such as Parker, Cole and Green. It's vital we take as many points as possible in our final two league games before the window closes.

* Match ratings (below) by KUMB members RARS.



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Player Ratings

Robert Green
Handled well, commanded his area well, great first half save.


Joey O Brien
A bit slow on the turn and was beaten for pace a few times, but scored a good goal and was always there when needed. Never quite showed as much attacking nous as in the previous couple of games.


Herita Ilunga
His best performance for us for the best part of a couple of years. Solid at the back, good going forward.


James Tomkins
Scored his goal, looked assured all evening, but unfortunately came off with looks like a possible minor hamstring strain.


Winston Reid
He and Tomkins gave the odd jitter when they could have cleared their lines better, but overall a very assured display from someone who you can visibly see growing in confidence, even if it is in the second tier.


Mark Noble
Plays as if he thinks he is the best player in the division. The attitude we need throughout the whole team. Guilty of a few sloppy passes, but generally gave us so much guile and vision in midfield.


Scott Parker
A good game. Very concerning seeing him half hearted with some challenges though. He needs to leave the club as soon as possible. He doesn't want to be here, we need to sell him and if he continues playing at 80 per cent, then the crowd will sadly start to be saddened by the whole affair.


Kevin Nolan
I would have given him a 6 as he wasn't involved too much, but his natural leadership, cunning sportsmanship and eye for motivation notches him up one. Gave a bollocking when needed, support at other times. You can just tell though that he isn't the most mobile and nippiest of players, but he'll always be in the right place at the right time, which is good.


Matthew Taylor
A very busy game, but without too much input. Guilty of some poor distribution, but linked up well with Ilunga down the left. His left foot will be a major asset for us this season, as he showed with a great delivery from a corner for our first goal. His threat was nullified somewhat by the rapid pace of their right back Doyley, so Taylor had no chance of beating his man one-on-one.


Jack Collison
Slightly disappointed. When you suffer with having no pace whatsoever, you need to make sure you do a hell of a lot more with the ball with your end product, but barring some neat link up play and a few nice moves down the right, he never really displayed anything special. A solid game though, but you can tell he isn't a wide player as he was drifting infield a little to make use of his assets, as you got the sense he felt a little out of his depth out wide.


Carlton Cole
A fairly decent game. Suffered very much the same issues as Piquionne; cross-field balls, running the flanks, trying to hold the ball up at every opportunity - which he did quite well - but it's just a thankless task in that role and one that will not be pretty, but will be very necessary in order to allow the rest of the team to play well. The only difference with Cole last night was that he found himself in the right position for an easy tap-in.


Substitutes


Abdoulaye Faye
(Replaced Tomkins, 68 mins) Looked solid, if not a little heavy. Runs and stands as though his knees are going to shatter at any minute. I was half tempted to give him a 10, just for that one tackle alone!


Frederic Piquionne
(Replaced Cole, 74 mins) Carried on where Cole left off. Some neat turns, touches and movement which, like with Cole, will go unappreciated by some.


Julien Faubert
(Replaced Collison, 75 mins) Came on a little late in the game to make a real impression, but looked to get involved at any opportunity. He seems to just have more of a spring in his step, with a marked improvement on attitude, with a point to prove.


Ruud Boffin
Did not play.


Pablo Barrera
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Scott Mathieson.

Attendance: 14,747.

Man of the Match: Winston Reid.

West Ham United

Robert Green, Joey O Brien, Herita Ilunga, James Tomkins, Winston Reid, Mark Noble, Scott Parker, Kevin Nolan, Matthew Taylor, Jack Collison, Carlton Cole.

Goals: James Tomkins 3 Joey O Brien 45 Carlton Cole 70 Scott Parker 90            .

Booked: Mark Noble 86          .

Sent off: None.

Watford

Scott Loach, Lloyd Doyley, Martin Taylor, Carl Dickinson, Adrian Mariappa, Mark Yeates, John Eustace, Ross Jenkins, Craig Forsyth, Chris Iwelumo, Marvin Sordell.

Substitutes: Gavin Massey (Chris Iwelumo 56), Troy Deeney (Mark Yeates 74).

Subs not used: Rene Gilmartin, David Mirfin, Dale Bennett.

Goals: None.

Booked: Marvin Sordell (45), John Eustace (82).

Sent Off: None.

 
Brian Evans's Man of the Match: Winston Reid