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Championship
Saturday, 3rd December 2011

West Ham United 1
Burnley 2

by East Stand Martin


Whenever I see Burnley, I'm always reminded of the time the last down in the Championship, when the reasons best known to myself I decided to go up to the Lancashire khazi for a midweek game.

My abiding memory is of walking down some godforsaken cobbled street when I spied a Range Rover with tinted windows advancing on a steward. The electric window came down and who should be inside but Rio Ferdinand, no doubt coming to watch Anton. The brainless northern monkey official decided that he did not believe that this was indeed Rio, and he refused passage to the expensive vehicle.

Grade 1 cretin

This only serves to underline my long-held view that intelligence tends not to extend beyond the M25. Perhaps this might be seen as a Jeremy Clarkson type comment, but I will refute that as I happen to think that he is a grade one cretin who should have been strangled at birth. There you go Jeremy; I think I may have trumped your pathetic little comment about low paid public sector workers deserving to be shot for trying to defend their pensions.

We went into this game with great confidence, but despite that, there's always this niggling feeling as a West Ham fan that something might not quite go right at home. This is in fact the converse of the way that we use to feel in the good old days. Then it was “Fortress Upton Park", where many a team feared to visit as they knew they would be faced with a raucous and partisan East End crowd.

For some reason, this just hasn't been the way it has been at the Boleyn Ground for some time now. Maybe I'm just guilty of nostalgia, but something is definitely not right.

Make the Sam shape

The team was pretty much as expected, although the manager had reverted back, maybe as a result of the injury to Sam Baldock, to the 451 shape which he instinctively favours. No doubt this will lead to various commentators trying to tell me that it was 433.

5 min in there was great play by Jack Collison with a flurry of passes which nearly resulted in a goal. The Burnley goalkeeper was nearly beaten to a ball that got whipped in.

On 10 min a quick free kick very nearly caught the Burnley defence asleep but the goalkeeper was again alert to deny Carlton Cole. A minute later Faye blasted a shot over from 30 yards.

Mark Noble was passing the ball around very accurately and a ball out wide right to Joey O'Brien led to a cross but the header in the box was weak by Matty Taylor. Noble was at it again a minute later with a menacing run forward that led to a disguised chip to the left of the box which just went over Kevin Nolan's head.

On 14 min Carlton Cole showed great determination in the box by weaving between defenders. This led to a corner down the right and James Tomkins just looped a header wide of the right upright.

Too good for Real Madrid

Another lovely layoff by Mark Noble created a chance on 16 min which resulted in Julien Faubert attempting a diving header in which deflected for a corner. Faubert was having an effective opening to the game and made a great cross over to the left of the box which led to Matty Taylor winning a corner.

James Tomkins had another half chance on 20 min when the ball was looped into the box to find at the far post but he headed into the arms of the Burnley goalkeeper. A minute later Faubert did well to win the ball on the edge of the box with his back to goal. He laid off a pass to Kevin Nolan who half volleyed wide.

Burnley were posing a few threats but when they did get forward, Faye was usually on hand to snuff out the threat.

A lovely jink back by Kevin Nolan from the dead ball line on 25 min would have created a great opportunity for a goal had there been a single player around the penalty spot to take advantage. This was followed by great play by Faubert cutting in from the right and mesmerising defenders on the edge of the box. He chipped ball over but Matty Taylor could not get a good header on it.

No go Nolan

A mistake by the Burnley defence on 28 min set Carlton Cole free down the right. Entering into the box he sent a perfect ball across the 6 yard line only to see Kevin Nolan spurn a fantastic chance in front of goal. It appeared that he was trying to place the ball rather than just get a good solid connection on it.

Carlton Cole looks to be playing with confidence at the moment and he showed some sublime ball control on the halfway line to bring down a clearance.

34 min saw the 1st shot of note by burning as a break saw the ball fired into the right-hand side netting. Shortly after this the ball broke out from Burnley attack but, Cole was caught just offside on the wrong side of the halfway line.

Matty Taylor won a ball on 38 min to allow space for Jack Collison on the edge of the box to strike at goal. He hit a fizzing grass cutter which just went wide of the left hand post.

With 4 min left of the half, Joey O'Brien made a brilliant run forward from the halfway line right through to the dead ball line, winning a corner.

The last real action of the half saw Faye make a last ditch tackle to prevent a break on goal. This was the 2nd time that he had to tidy up around the halfway line. He doesn't look that mobile but seems to have the ability to just about make the right timing in his interventions.

Prophet of doom

The TV monitor downstairs in the bath indicated that West Ham had enjoyed 58% of the possession in the 1st half, and it certainly felt like the home team had dominated proceedings. Kevin Nolan should have put the Irons ahead, and a nearby East stand commentator had uttered the fateful words “I hope we don't regret that miss later".

West Ham began the 2nd half in similarly dominant form. A corner on 47 min saw the ball drop to the feet of Faye, but there was a sea of bodies in the way the goal and the shot was blocked. Faye had another chance from a corner 3 min later, but he headed way over.

The goal that should have been scored much earlier in this game then came on 52 min as classic Sam Allardyce route one football saw a clearance leading to a flick on from Carlton Cole. There was Kevin Nolan waiting to latch on to the ball and guide it over the head of the keeper into the empty net.

Classic mistake

Although the goal was expected what happened next was nothing more than complacency by West Ham. It's an old adage in football that you need to concentrate even harder when you have scored a goal and so it proved, as some unnecessary dallying in the West Ham defence allowed Burnley an opportunity. Fortunately, the resulting shot was floated over the crossbar from a tight angle.

Piquionne was introduced on 55 min and Matty Taylor was taken off. Immediately after the substitution, Burnley scored as more slack discipline at the back gave away a throw in and allowed an excellent cross in from the West Ham left and an unstoppable header by McCann past Robert Green.

Wallace was introduced for Treacey on 57 min and just after the change of very good break by West Ham down the right wing led to the ball being sent over to the back post but Piquionne’s half volley was blocked for a corner. Faye was offered a free header from a corner but nodded weakly over.

Faubert had not looked as effective in the 2nd half but on 59 min he did well to win a ball in the centre of the pitch and advance forward, but he hit a poor final ball with Piquionne free in a good position. Immediately after, Mark Noble made a superb pass out left to Piquionne, but he failed to make his cross count from the edge of the box.

Great linkup play down the left on 62 min saw a goalmouth scramble in the Burnley box but Carlton Cole could not create the space to shoot on the turn. Just after this Cole was cynically taken out on the halfway line and Duff received a rightful yellow card.

I will account for my errors

Faubert made a poor pass on the edge of the Burnley box with West Ham in a promising position, but to give him credit he ran virtually all the way back to the edge of the West Ham box to retrieve the situation. That showed great commitment from the Frenchman.

Great play by Carlton Cole and Piquionne on 67 min led to yet another West Ham break, but as the ball broke out right the cross that came in was headed weakly by Piquionne.

Former West Ham player Junior Stanislas was substituted for Sam Vokes on 68 min to polite applause.

It looked like Jack Collison had got West Ham back on track on 71 min as another break saw the ball cut back to the Welsh international who looked to have hit a pretty perfect shot. It looked like this hit the base of the right-hand post.

Rob Green was not having one of his best kicking days, and on 73 min he scuffed the ball to Wallace near the halfway line who tried a speculative first-time shot which to Green's immense relief floated wide of the right-hand post.

Undone

As time went on, Burnley were growing in confidence, and a great strike from Rodriguez as the ball broke loose in the centre on 74 min required Rob Green to carry over a stinging shot from 30 yards. The resulting corner led to West Ham's undoing, as a very good ball in from the left saw a powerful header by the recently arrived Vokes into the goal with Green helpless.

West Ham tried to respond immediately, and Faubert should have really done better with a free header after a fine cross in from the West Ham left. The cavalry was summoned in the shape of big John Carew, substituting for Joey O'Brien on 79 min. An Eaststander near me made a disparaging comment to the effect that the manager had decided to bring on some pace. I replied “he’s quicker than you think, a bit like Bigfoot wading through a swamp".

Carlton Cole certainly hadn't given up the ghost and some great strength by him fashioned a run in on goal but his low shot was just glanced off the right-hand post.

With 4 min of ordinary time left, Faubert did well down the right-hand side to create some space and sending a raking cross/shot which the Burnley keeper held down low.

Frustration

The final few minutes were pure frustration for West Ham, but a lot of possession did not create the goal opportunity. The best chance came with another break down the left and a good ball in which just fizzed across the face of the goal with no one there to dispatch it goalwards.

This was undoubtedly one of those games that West Ham did not deserve to lose. The team enjoyed a great deal of possession, passed the ball around pretty effectively and created numerous opportunities. Burnley won the game as a result of some sloppy defending after the West Ham goal and because they took advantage of a set piece – their only corner of the game - late in the game. It was classic daylight robbery really.

It was a great shame, especially as news filtered through that Southampton had lost away at Doncaster. However, during the course of the season there will always be a game or two that you do not deserve to lose. This was one of those days, when the team played quite well and did not get its just deserts.

Never mind, the week had not been too bad with the win at home the previous weekend and the excellent away win at Middlesbrough. Given the nadir of the team’s fortunes at the end of last season, I think just about any West Ham fan would have taken a five point cushion with third place at the beginning of December. Let's hope that the team can return to winning ways at Reading next Saturday, although this is a ground that does not have too many fond memories for West Ham.



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Player Ratings

Robert Green
Little to do bar pick the ball out of his net. Twice. His distribution was decent enough.


Joey O'Brien
Worked hard until substituted late on. Neither goal came from his side.


George McCartney
Not much to offer in the opposition half and once again, we're conceding goals from the left side.


Abdoulaye Faye
Put in some really important challenges and made some vital tackles. But was he at fault for either goal?


James Tomkins
He had a poor game last time out and whilst this was an improvement, he still wasn't up to his high standards of the first third of the season.


Mark Noble
Started well enough but faded as the game went on and his passing became more erratic. Another who was below the high standards he has set himself recently.


Jack Collison
The Welsh international had an excellent first half and should have scored after the break when he rattled the wrong side of the woodwork. Better though.


Kevin Nolan
Possibly his most energetic performance of the season and one which was warmly appreciated by the Boleyn faithful. His goal was sublime, his first half miss abysmal. Still our best player on the park.


Julien Faubert
The French wide-man had an absolute shocker in terms of passing but can't be faulted for work-rate and commitment.


Matthew Taylor
Still the player most likely to make something happen; it was no coincidence that the game change course following his substitution.


Carlton Cole
A bit hit-and-miss today. Although he didn't have one of his better days he still looked dangerous in the final third and presented a problem to Burnley throughout.


Substitutes


Frederic Piquionne
(Replaced Taylor, 56) Actually looked pretty lively for a change. Should have perhaps done better with one or two of the chances that came his way.


John Carew
(Replaced O'Brien, 80) Barely involved, a bit of a passenger.


Marek Stech
Did not play.


Guy Demel
Did not play.


Papa Bouba Diop
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: F Graham.

Attendance: 26,274.

Man of the Match: Kevin Nolan.

West Ham United

Robert Green, Joey O'Brien, George McCartney, Abdoulaye Faye, James Tomkins, Mark Noble, Jack Collison, Kevin Nolan, Julien Faubert, Matthew Taylor, Carlton Cole.

Goals: Kevin Nolan 52                  .

Booked: None.

Sent off: None.

Burnley

.

Substitutes: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: .

Sent Off: None.

 
East Stand Martin's Man of the Match: Kevin Nolan


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