Saturday, 27th August 2005
That’s twice this year I have been taken to the heights of ecstasy. What have Bobby Zamora and Ashley Giles got in common? They both sent yours truly radio rental in 2005.
Ashes or no Ashes, I’m not going to miss a West Ham home game, even if it does happen to involve big fat Sam and his bunch of foreign mercenaries. Bolton aren’t exactly a club that any West Ham fan can have much affection for – it still seems just the other day that we trekked up to the Reebok to see Okocha shrug off Joe Cole and unleash a rocket. I still say that it was that game that sent us down.
We lined up for this game exactly the same way we’d started up in the Toon the week before, although the withdrawal of Konchesky’s red card was required to make that happen. This was good to see, as a settled team is a key ingredient to progress.
It all looked very promising at the beginning, with Teddy finding Konch twice in two minutes with a couple of nice passes. He put over some pretty nice crosses but Jaaskelainen – not for the last time during the match – took the ball comfortably.
The beautiful game
On four minutes Yossi stroked a pass of sheer beauty across the field to find Teddy who in turn laid off the ball to Mullins. He smashed a powerful shot from thirty yards which looked goalbound until it hit a Bolton defender.
Then on five minutes, Reo Coker went on a searing run through the middle, but the ball got lost under his feet as he entered the box.
Bolton picked up a free kick on 6 minutes down the left hand side of our box in a position which they normally relish, and a dangerous cross had to be headed behind.
Fat and wise
Allardyce may be corpulent, but he’s no fool. No doubt his review of recent West Ham games would have identified the need to shut down both Mullins and Reo Coker. The Bolton midfield was clearly tuned into this and they were breathing down our boys’ necks. This caused two errors in a row by Nigel and Hayden on eleven minutes.
Then on 11 minutes, the increasingly sensational Benayoun turned brilliantly on a sixpence in the box to fool a defender and he tried to curl the ball into the top corner from a tightish angle. The alert Jaaskelainen made a great reflex save to deny the Israeli his first goal in the claret and blue.
The rapid closing down by Bolton was making West Ham look nervous and Gabbers lost the ball under typical pressure.
Marlon loops it
Yossi was the provider again on 14 minutes, when he found Konch, who in turn fed Matty. He cut inside and made a lovely chip towards the six yard box. Marlon was hurtling in with an outstretched foot, but the ball looped off him and over the bar. ESM Jnr said that Marlon should have tried a diving header, but it was an excellent chance.
Stelios, who has decided to stick with salad dodger Sam, got a half shot away on 15 minutes, but Carroll dealt with this easily. Seven minutes later a rapid exchange of passes between Konch, Matty and Yossi saw the Israeli try to set Matty free in the box, but he couldn’t take advantage of some space and the ball sliced off his boot.
The Matty/Konch left side combo looked great coming forward again on 26 minutes, and Konch on the overlap sent over a dangerous low cross which Jaaskelainen gathered well down low without a hint of spilling the ball. The Finnish international ‘keeper cleared quickly to try and take advantage of Konch being out of position but Gabbers did well to cover. We will need to be careful about getting caught by quick breaks down the flank on the counter attack at home.
After this, I began to notice JJ Okocha showing his ability as a playmaker. You can do nothing but admire his craft.
On the half hour, Reo Coker won a ball in midfield and made a very nice pass to Tom down the right. He put over a good cross and there was Yossi running into the box to get his head on it. Once again Jaaskelainen made the take look easy, and Yossi failed to divert the ball sufficiently to cause a problem.
Three minutes later, Konch was on the move again and he fired a cross over to the right hand side of the box, where the waiting Teddy looked like he took a bit of a tug. Yossi managed to pick up the scraps but his first time cross ended up going across the face of the goal with not a soul in sight.
Bolton wasted a great chance on 35 minutes after Teddy gave the ball away in an awful position just outside his own box. The ball was sent over to two waiting Bolton players who couldn’t decide whose job it was to stick it in the back of the net.
Jussi saves again
West Ham responded immediately with a move which set Teddy free in the box. He lobbed up a rather strange ball from the right hand side of goal which came down vertically at the left hand post. Unfortunately, a defender was on hand to head behind. From the corner, Matty ran free and then switched the ball to Yossi who tried a shot through a packed goalmouth. Gabbers did brilliantly to try and backflick it into the goal, but Jaaskelainen made another fine reflex save. On another day that would have gone in.
Every game has a comedy moment and this came on 39 minutes as Okocha broke free and elected to try a shot from inside his own half. He looked a prize tw*t as the ball nearly hit the corner flag.
Bolton’s threat was always going to be from a set piece, and a corner on 41 minutes required Konch to head off his own line. Then during the one minute added time, a quick free kick by West Ham saw Teddy make a wonderful flick to set Marlon up surging into the six yard box. Once again, he couldn’t apply the killer touch with his outstretched foot and the ball went over the top of the bemused Jaaskelainen's goal.
All in all, West Ham had the better of the half and it was only finishing which was lacking. The best chances were not easy to take, although the inevitable mutter in the concourse was that Marlon had failed miserably. This was not entirely fair, and some of the comments I heard on the radio later almost elevated him to a war criminal. This is way over the top; people need to remember that without Marlon we would not be back in the Premiership.
There were no changes at half time, and the first activity of note was a truly awful telegraphed cross field ball by Mullins that Diouf gratefully accepted. Next, Marlon made a great tackle on 48 minutes and he sent Teddy on his way. Unfortunately it would have been better if this had been the other way around as Teddy’s lack of pace allowed Bolton to regroup and block.
Diouf, who has to be one of most objectionable little scrotes around, got booked for kicking the ball away on 50 minutes, which sparked his substitution for the shaggy haired Campo. Tom must have thought this was a good thing to mimic as he got the yellow for the same offence four minutes later.
The game looked to be degenerating as yet another yellow came out for Davies on 55 minutes as he made a nasty looking late tackle on Anton.
No surprise set piece
Gabbers got caught in possession on 56 minutes and the newly introduced Campo ran towards goal and let loose with an absolute peach of a shot from outside the box which hit the crossbar with Carroll flailing. A minute later, Marlon won a ball on the edge of the Bolton box, broke free, but his finishing was poor.
Unsurprisingly, a Bolton goal came from a set piece. There was more than an element of luck about it as a shot was blocked expertly by Yossi standing on the near post, but the ball bounced around the six yard box and Nolan managed to get a foot on the ball.
Matty, who looked a little jaded, was replaced by debutant Aliadiere on 61 minutes. Stelios was the next in the book two minutes later after a tackle from behind on Reo Coker. For some reason, when Nolan committed an almost carbon copy offence against Tom just a couple of minutes later, the ref Phil Dowd took no action.
How quick is that?
Z-man came on for Marlon with around 25 minutes left. Aliadiere then showed just how quick he is, winning a ball running forward. Unfortunately, Teddy lacked his customary touch with a return pass.
Zamora broke free down the left on 71 minutes and he delivered a dangerous ball into the box, but Teddy at full stretch could do no more than slice the ball wide of the goal from inside the box.
Future promise was then offered again by the truly pacey Aliadiere on 75 minutes. He tried to dribble right through the middle only to get inevitably fouled just outside the box. There was only one man for the job and Teddy was desperately unlucky to see his free kick cannon off the bar.
Reo Coker, who had a much quieter game – largely due to the highly organised and disciplined Bolton midfield – managed to get a snap shot away on 80 minutes from just inside the box. It looked like the ball was going wide of the goal, but Jaaskelainen decided to turn it around the post for safety’s sake.
82 minutes saw a double change, with Davies coming on for Faye and Ward for Gabbers. West Ham were pressing forward trying to find the equaliser with Ward as a makeshift front man. In true Trotter style, Bolton then got the counter attack they always look for in these situations. It took a mistake by Mullins to gift the ball to Okocha and he made a perfect weighted pass to Campo who managed to stay onside. His finish was clinical, a stylish side foot past the advancing Carroll.
Despite being 2-0 down, Konch hadn’t given up the ghost and he shot off down the left and smashed an outstanding 30 yard shot at goal. Jaaskelainen was there yet again to make a great save in the top corner. Following the corner, Mullins got pushed over in the box with three minutes left. A penalty was awarded immediately and Teddy made no mistake with the finish, but it was too late and there was no way through in the three minutes of added time.
Some things are not to be
There’s no room for despondency about this performance. For long periods of play, West Ham were in control of this game. Jaaskelainen was probably man of the match. Bolton are a unified and disciplined professional operation. They did not come sixth last year by mistake. The key is to score first against them, but if you go a goal down, then they are always very difficult to beak down. A two nil defeat would have really been unjust, and on another day, we would have got at least a point out of that game.
Yes, it would be nice to have more options up front, but let’s take the positives out of this; Yossi looks better every game, Konch is a legend in the making, and Aliadiere could really add something special. We will bounce back from this and the post match reaction suggests that wily old fat Sam knows it as well.
(Player ratings by Gordon Thrower)
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The tip onto the bar from Campo’s rocket was superb. Needs to get a better understanding with Gabbidon though.
Footballing-wise fine. Spent a lot of the match being provoked by little pushes and niggles and reacted well. Then went and spoiled it by getting booked for kicking the ball away.
A fine game. Desperately unlucky to find the Bolton ‘keeper in great form towards the end of the match.
Another superb outing. Apparently he has an elder brother playing for some minor team up north. I wonder if he’s any good? My MOTM.
Fairly solid but there was the occasional concentration lapse. Needs to sit down and have a chat with Carroll.
Got his foot in well, had one goalbound shot blocked and won the penalty. On the debit side his shocking ball led directly to the second goal.
Some good spells but not as dominant as he has been in recent weeks.
As he comes to terms with the pace of the Premiership he is becoming more and more influential. Bolton’s tactics should have brought home to him that he chose the right club to join.
I described him as being “out of sorts” to my neighbour at half time. This was a more accurate description than I realised at the time as he was, apparently, ill. It showed.
If you look up the definition of “One Of Those Days” in a dictionary you’ll probably see a description of Marlon’s match v Bolton. Really ought to have done better with the chances he had. He will be wondering about his place in the starting line-up over the next 16 days.
The usual clever performance from young Edward who can look forward to a couple of weeks with his feet up.
(Replaced Etherington, 60) Came on in an unfamiliar right midfield spot for Etherington and his pace and skill suggested that he might be an important acquisition.
(Replaced Harewood, 65) On for the hapless Harewood he nearly provided Sheringham a goal from his near post cross.
(Replaced Harewood, 65) Came on to add some height but his first action was to find himself horriby exposed by Mullins’ horror pass.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Anton Ferdinand.
West Ham United
Roy Carroll, Tomas Repka, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Matthew Etherington, Marlon Harewood, Teddy Sheringham.
Booked: Tomas Repka 55 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Pedersen, N'Gotty, Ben Haim, Nolan, Speed, Giannakopoulos, Okocha, Diouf, Davis.
Substitutes: Campo (Diouf 52), Diagne-Faye (Davies 83), Borgetti (Okocha 87).
Subs not used: Walker, Nakata.
Goals: Nolan (59), Campo (85).
Booked: Diouf (51), Davis (56), Giannakopoulos (62), Speed (76).
Sent Off: None sent off..