Saturday, 13th August 2005
It started on BBC Radio 5 Live (talking football to explain my purchase of the play-off final rights) with the pundits all agreeing that West Ham should stay up this season. Too many other teams had worse squads and we seemed better organised. Fulham, WBA, Wigan (we'll see today), Sunderland and Portsmouth are more favoured to struggle than us, it seems. I had a great chat in the studio and was honoured to be asked in by the Beeb.
Then to Upton Park just in time for the football - and what a game!
We were seated at the end where all the goals were scored near the corner flag in the West stand. What we thought were average seats turned out to be perfect as we had the best view of all the goals. I was later to find out that again the club had given me four tickets for free after I had offered, and thought I had, paid for them. Thanks again to the wonderful support I have received from the club!
First half we took a while to settle and were scrappy at times. However we created some chances, only to be 1-0 down at the break via a scrappy goal. The game was hotting up with some tough challenges and the ref was a little inconsistent and this irked the crowd. Tempers looked like they might boil over as we were struggling and getting a little frustrated. Having said that, we really did play some football - but just could not complete.
Then the second half came - and what a treat.
Sheringham scored inside the first minute and the crowd went ballistic. What followed was 13 minutes of complete dominance and we were unlucky not to have scored twice more. Yossi was proving to be an increasing menace and our midfield was dominant.
Then a fantastic goal from Reo-Coker who promptly ran over to our corner to celebrate. The last 30 minutes were all West Ham as were totally dominated play. Was this really the team that struggled last year?
Yossi was excellent and a constant threat. His creation of the third goal was inspirational - sure he collected a loose ball on the edge of the box but what followed was inspirational. He ran directly and aggressively at the keeper on the angle taking him and defenders out of play, and then rather than take the chance and shoot he unselfishly set up the easiest of goals for Etherington.
This is what we all like to see - the team playing AS a team rather than seeking individual glory. Remember this was a foreign player in his first home game in the Premiership playing with people he did not know - very impressive.
Sheringham was excellent (as was the whole team really) and I can't fault anyone. Blackburn had chances and better teams will punish us for some of the lapses we exhibited yesterday. However, on this form we are looking good. The atmosphere was also outstanding - and boy did I have a good sing!
After the game I went off to the Green Man and then for a curry down the Barking Road. The perfect end to a perfect day.
West Ham United 3 Blackburn Rovers 1 - and we are top of the league!
(Player ratings by Gordon Thrower)
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Not really tested other than by the occasional back pass from Dailly that went a little short for comfort. I think 88 minutes had passed when he had to make his first save.
Displayed a worrying lack of pace at times and I‘ll be happier when Repka’s fit enough to take over the right back spot. Battled gamely on though and got some decent challenges in as the game progressed.
An impressive debut from the left-back and there were early signs that the Konchesky/Etherington partnership down the left might be useful. Nearly spoilt things with his late lapse in concentration to let Bellamy in but his shove on the annoying Savage will have endeared him to many fans.
The defence had a decent game for the most part – though the marking at corners may need looking at. In the battle against Kuqi and Bellamy Anton did exceedingly well and he is rapidly maturing into the player many observers thought he could be.
Another fine debut. Made a number of important challenges and looked accomplished throughout. He has a bit of pace about him too which is always useful.
After a shaky start where he got caught in possession a little too much for my liking, he knuckled down to provide what turned to be a excellent performance in the middle.
A superb second half capped with a fine goal. AP reckons he really rates himself to do well at this level. Performances like this will have us agreeing. My MOTM.
Drifted in and out a bit and got bundled over a few times in the early rough and tumble. However despite his slight frame he was always keen to get stuck in to win the ball back and he played a vital part in the first and third goals. There’s potential there if someone could take him down to Nathans for some large helpings of pie & mash.
Another who played in spells. Seemed a little overawed in the first half. Less so in the second when he set up a number of decent chances. Enjoyed the goal didn’t he!
Caused Blackburn problems throughout and might have got the goal he possibly deserved had he been a little more composed in front of goal. First day nerves maybe.
The usual intelligent display from young Edward – especially in the second half when he seemed to be more on the same wavelength as his colleagues. Clever anticipation for the goal though the sulky nature of his departure was a tad unnecessary.
(Replaced Sheringham, 72) Steady enough 20 minutes or so though he might have scored late on.
(Replaced Mullins, 84) Just time for a brief cameo of the youngster’s footwork.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Nigel Reo-Coker.
West Ham United
Roy Carroll, Christian Dailly, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Matthew Etherington, Marlon Harewood, Teddy Sheringham.
Goals: Teddy Sheringham 46 Nigel Reo-Coker 62 Matthew Etherington 80 .
Booked: None booked. .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Friedel, Neill, Todd, Mokoena, Matteo, Emerton, Savage, Reid, Pedersen, Kuqi, Savage.
Substitutes: Gresko (Kuqi 55), Dickov (Mokoena 62).
Subs not used: Enckelman, Tuguy, Flitcroft.
Goals: Todd (18).
Booked: Savage (20).
Sent Off: Dickov (81).