Saturday, 1st December 2012
This is not one of those occasions.
Team news was that Carroll’s knee would see him missing for the remainder of the calendar year. Linda’s ankle was still crook whilst Diame was dropped to the bench to perceived tiredness. Starting line-up: JJ, Demel, O’Brien, Collins, Reid, Tomkins, Noble, Jarvis, O’Neil, Nolan, Cole.
It was a pretty even start for the first few minutes. However there were a few signs that we were paying them far too much respect. We were playing into their hands my defending far too deep and given the rough time they’ve had in recent weeks the visitors probably couldn’t believe their luck with the space they were getting.
Chelsea opened the scoring on 12 minutes with their first meaningful attack of any note. Moses – who was probably their biggest threat on either side of the pitch – played a clever ball down the right to Torres whose pull-back found Mata unmarked. Mata had the easiest job to side foot into the net from about 12 yards.
There was not much celebrating from the visiting support - it must be difficult to know when to sing when you’re not at home and don’t have someone to tell you. In fact they made more noise doing their “one Di Matteo” thing on the 16th minute than they did all game.
They should have double the lead on 20 minutes. Demel gave the ball away far too cheaply on our right. Ramieres bore down on the box squaring the ball to the unmarked Moses whose horrible miscue was more reminiscent of his colleague Torres than of someone who was having an otherwise good game. The ball squirmed away and Moses suffered the ignominy of seeing his throw go out for a throw rather than for a goal kick.
We weren’t creating much at all and it looked like we’d require set pieces to have any effect on the game. A free kick out on the left touchline provided one such opportunity with the ref dramatically running at full sprint for 20 yards to make sure that the kick was taken from a spot only a foot away from where the ball lay. I’m sure it looked good on the box. Noble’s effort caused a spot of miled panic as the ball pinballed its way about the box but the effect was nullified when the ball returned to Noble and he messed up a backheel putting Chelsea on the attack again. Ramires broke forward to the edge of the box and squared the ball. Thankfully Torres was the recipient and he scooped the ball into the Bobby Moore stand. Bit of a let-off that one.
The chances weren’t coming thick and fast but they were still racking up nevertheless. Hazard driving over with a shot that might have had JJ in trouble had it been a few feet lower.
We got the ball in the net shortly after the half hour. Noble took a clever free kick down the line. Jarvis checked back and put the ball into the box. Collins headed down and Nolan flicked the ball in. Unfortunately ref Atkinson had decided that Collins had fouled in the process. It’s a moot point as to whether Cech might have made more of an effort to keep out Nolan’s but for Atkinson’s blunder. As it was it was one of a number of strange decisions that prompted chants of “we want Mark Clattenburg” from the home support.
The visitors had another chance to increase their advantage with five left of the half. Hazard found Moses who turned Demel inside out on the left hand side of the box. Moses pulled back for Mata to shoot from close range. JJ saved superbly and O’Brien’s block from the rebound was no less impressive. In the context of the match those two interventions were to prove timely as they ensured that we went into the break only the one goal behind.
There was just time for one last piece of excitement. A looped ball from midfield didn’t seem to be too worrying but Cech had seen some danger and rushed off his line to punch away, the punch occurring just outside the box. The crowd were baying for blood but the handball didn’t stop the ball from going in. With a covering defender favourite to get to the ball first, a yellow card was probably the correct decision rather than the red for denial of goalscoring opportunity that some were hoping for.
Collins drilled the tap from Noble into the box. Jarvis headed the deflection back into the danger area and Nolan headed goalwards, Cech tipping the ball just over.
The interval was taken up with one of the mascots doing that stupid dance that is apparently an internet phenomenon. I read my programme and enjoyed Upton Girlie’s
splendid belated birthday cake and so I remain the only person on the planet not to have seen this thing.
Meanwhile, somewhere below us in the changing rooms things were stirring. Something had to be done and Mr Allardyce was not prepared to hang about in making changes. Out went Tomkins and O’Neil, neither of whom had been particularly effective in midfield. In came Diame and Taylor. Welcome though the changes were, it’s fair to say that few were prepared for exactly how different the second half would be to the first. In fact had you told me what was about to happen I’d probably have called that special phone number they’ve been publicising to advise the authorities of some heavy drug abuse.
Right from the start of the second half we got at them, forcing a series of corners. One of these fell to Diamenthe edge of the box and the shot was travelling at no little speed as it was blocked in front of goal. Another cleverly worked corner saw Taylor put a low cross into the box with only some last ditch defending stopping Nolan from equalising. From the resulting corner Nolan was penalised for being pushed over by Cech. Now protection of keepers is one thing but awarding them free-kicks when they’re the ones committing the offence is taking it a bit far really. The inconsistency was highlighted only a few seconds later when Cole was awarded a free kick for exactly the same sort of incident that had seen Nolan punished.
Another cross from the right caused further consternation in the visitors defence, Cahill’s brave header getting what you might expect if you elect to head a ball a couple of feet off the ground – in this case an accidental mouthful of Carlton Cole’s boot.
We were adding to the corner count with regularity but were meeting with Noble’s usual problem of not beating the first man. One corner ended up going out for a throw and whilst the visitors were busy moaning at the decision Noble took a clever short throw to Jarvis whose low cross saw more desperate stuff from the defence.
Dame was absolutely everywhere breaking up Chelsea attacks and stifling the midfield in exactly the same way that didn’t happen in the first half. So when the equaliser came it was no more than we deserved. Jarvis won the ball back out on the touchline and swapped clever passes with Nolan. Jarvis’ cross took a deflection high into the air. Cole tangled with Ivanov who was backing in but Atkinson thought nothing of the challenge. Cole’ header wasn’t the most powerful of efforts. It didn’t need to be as the ball came down off the striker’s bonce and nestled snugly in the bottom corner. There was more in the challenge than some Atkinson had blown for earlier on - particularly the ludicrous decision on the Collins effort in the first half so justice was done to a certain extent.
We had the bit between our teeth. A rejuvenated Jarvis had a shot from distance saved low by Cech. So it would have been typical West Ham to have conceded while we were so on top. Oe of the few Chelsea attacks that didn’t involve Cech hoofing it long saw Hazard bear down on goal. His shot was well saved by JJ and, thankfully, Torrs was the recipient of the rebound his shot going weakly straight back at JJ. Noble then upended Ramires with a rash one and Mata’s effort from the resulting free kick came back off the post with JJ stranded.
But that was just about it from the visitors as we regrouped and set about them in the same way we’d been doing all half. Taylor took over from Noble on the corners but still found the first man. So Noble had another go, with much the same result.
We had a daft scare with 20 left when JJ threw the ball straight to Hazard. However, the Brazilian’s chip was pretty awful and served only to spare the ‘keeper’s blushes.
We pressed on. Diame again played the ball into the box and Taylor just lost out to Ramires in the aerial battle for yet another corner. This time Taylor went deep and, whilst Reid’s header had direction, it lacked sufficient power to cause Cech any bother.
With about 8 left we had a glorious chance to take all three points. Noble’s superb ball found Jarvis in space. Jarvis’ shot was well saved with Cech turning it around the post. We came closer from the corner, Reid getting up well only to see his header cleared off the line by Cole (A).
Then with five left we took the lead. From a throw on the left Jarvis dinked a clever little ball into Cole. Cole held the ball up marvellously and laid the ball back to the edge of the box. Diame’s finish was a lesson in itself. Eye on the ball, knee over it to keep it down and put the laces through it. It was a marvellous finish and a well-deserved goal for a player who’d done so much to change the course of the match.
The assist was Cole’s last contribution to the match, Maiga had been ready to enter the fray before the goal and, with Cole not having had a full 90 minutes for a while, Mr Allardyce saw no reason to change his plans.
We carried on. Demel made a complete mug of Cole (A) and Taylor’s cross caused more panic in the visiting defence resulting in another corner. Of which little came. Nolan then pushed into the box and saw a shot blocked for the umpteenth corner.
As the 4 minutes of stoppage were announced we were still onan attack, which broke down as Diame slipped. Diame chased the ball across the pitch evenytally forcing Cole (A) into a loose pass straight to Maiga. Maiga played in Taylor whose shot was parried by Cech but Maiga was coolness personified as he buried the loose ball to put the points beyond all doubt.
There was time for one final scare. A cross from the left looked a bit dangerous but thankfully Torres was the recipient and his header was straight at JJ. The remaining couple of minutes were seen out in luxury rather than comfort as the “can we play you every week” chants rubbed it in for those of the visiting support who had bothered to stay. And three points were ours.
Now after a game such as this, and with all afternoon and evening to play with, a few pints were called for. However, a long-standing promise to drive the ex to the airport meant that it was no beer for me for hours afterwards. I was tempted to tell her to get a cab but frankly I’d had enough earache from her when we lived together without getting further grief. And I’d have ended up paying for the cab anyway. Still it meant that the pleasure of having the first pint of Hophead served by a Chelsea season ticket holder was totally undiluted.
That we deserved the win is not in question. Yes we were poor in the first half but we were ten times the side in the second half. The so-called Champions Of Europe were comprehensively outplayed in a second 45 that was as inspiring as any I can remember seeing over the years.
Now if we could just stop this tactic of lulling the opponents into a false sense of security…
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Some excellent saves to keep us in the game at key moments – though we’ll gloss over that throw out to Ramires!
Had some dodgy moments against Moses but stuck to the task and eventually saw off his tormentor.
Joey O Brien
Had some dodgy moments against Moses but stuck to the task and eventually saw off his tormentor.
Storming performance – unlucky to be penalised for the disallowed goal.
A good job of dealing with Torres and no little threat up front as well.
I know I’m repeating myself but I really don’t rate the player as a midfielder. Central defender yes but he never looks comfortable in midfield. He spent 45 minutes chasing shadows and his withdrawal was necessary for us to get the result.
Recovered from an iffy first half to have a decent second. Needs to watch the rash challenges or he’ll be looking at another suspension at the end of the next period.
Unlucky in the first half to have a goal chalked off for no readily apparent reason. Much better in the second half when he got up in support of Cole more often.
Gary O Neil
Like Tomkins he was largely anonymous in the first half. Removed to allow us extra width.
Lacked confidence in the first half. Seemed full of beans in a second half performance that gave a hint of what he might be capable of.
Even in the first half he was working his socks off – despite a lack of support. In the second, with a little help from his colleagues he was superb. Deserved the goal, despite Chelsea’s protestations.
(Replaced O'Neil, 71)
Outstanding. Totally changed the face of the game. Strong in defence and inspirational going forward. Marvellous goal. Man Of The Match.
(Replaced Tomkins, 45)
The width he brought to the right hand side caused Chelsea problems and meant they had to think about us rather than vice versa.
(Replaced Cole, 87)
Splendid cameo. Played Taylor in nicely then remained alert to stick away the rebound.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Man of the Match: Momo Diame.
West Ham United
Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel, Joey O Brien, James Collins, Winston Reid, James Tomkins, Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan, Gary O Neil, Matt Jarvis, Carlton Cole.
Goals: Carlton Cole 63 Momo Diame 86 Modibo Maiga 90 .
Booked: Mark Noble 65 .
Sent off: None.
Petr Cech, Cesar Azpilicueta, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Mikel, Nascimento Ramires, Victor Moses, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Fernando Torres.
Substitutes: Emboaba Oscar (Eden Hazard 73), Marko Marin (Victor Moses 78).
Subs not used: Ross Turnbull, Paulo Ferreira, Ryan Bertrand, Oriol Romeu, Lucas Piazon.
Goals: Juan Mata (13).
Booked: Petr Cech (44), Mikel (64).
Sent Off: None.