Wednesday, 26th October 2005
A lot of changes to the starting XI only added to my boyish excitement, getting a glimpse of some of the newer signings I’d not seen on the box and also gain a bit of an idea on the strength of our squad. Overall, given our circumstances, I felt reasonably happy.
Before I get into the match report I’d like to try and get across some of the general atmosphere. I must admit that given all the hype, I was very disappointed with what was also my first visit inside the Reebok. Perhaps they aren’t used to receiving too many away fans but the facilities are not able to cope comfortably with many away fans in my opinion. On reaching our seats in the Gods (must make mental note to write to Bolton Wanderers FC suggesting they install oxygen cylinders on the stairway landings), I was disappointed to see how few home fans were attending. I was however, pleasantly surprised that we’d seemed to almost sell out our allocation.
The match itself started reasonably well. We seemed to be passing the ball neatly enough, we looked balanced (sort of), the defence looked solid enough considering that both Gabbidon and Ferdinand were out. Apart from one or two incidents, Ward and Collins coped with pretty much everything comfortably in the middle, ably backed up by Konchesky (who was also relishing his role as free kick specialist) and Repka on the left and right respectively.
Clarke also looked decent enough on his debut, with Dailly and Mullins in midfield and Bellion out on the left.
West Ham certainly had the better of the first half but whilst we never looked in danger (apart from one ‘Shaka’ moment when the ball seemed to skid and hit him on his shin), we still lacked what I can only describe as ‘oomph’ up front. On a few occasions, Teddy found the ball with acres of space in the middle, but his obvious lack of pace cost us valuable time, allowing the Wanderers defence to regroup. Now in the past, I had always considered Marlon to be a bit lazy on occasion and get the hump when things aren’t going right. Tonight, he did nothing to convince me that maybe I was a little hasty. Too often he was waiting for the ball to come to him rather than running into space (this is somewhere where there is no opposition defender Marlon). Also, too often he would lose the ball easily following a challenge and didn’t have the heart to keep on going. Bellion on the other hand, looked lively and willing but he is very ‘one-footed.’ Still, can’t fault him for effort. So, 0-0 at half time, overall having the better chances, the evening was going along quite nicely.
I should’ve sensed a change for the worse in the second half when trying to get refreshments and squeezing into the loo started winding me up. But I was lulled back into a false sense of security after meeting a few fellow KUMBers, which cheered my daughters and me up.
So, buoyant again, the second half beckoned. ‘We could nick a result here,’ is what I was thinking but Pie Face Allardyce obviously had been telling his team the same, as Bolton did seem to step up a gear. Bolton were looking much more dangerous than they had in the first half but still didn’t seem to pose a serious threat until their goal, which seemed to sum up our second half. It was messy, it was avoidable, but it happened. Changes had to be made as passing had become sloppy and Pardew soon brought on Aliadiere and Newton, to replace Clarke and Teddy. It was a sensible move as Teddy just had nothing left in his tank and Clarke, for all his effort, still needs more time to get up to speed and gel, but he showed me enough to think that he’s certainly adequate enough for cover at worst. If he improves, then who knows.
Eventually, and with the away support becoming increasingly frustrated, Pardew took off the lacklustre Harewood with Fletcher. Replacing our ‘top’ striker with a midfielder when we are a goal down speaks volumes about Marlon’s performance. We could’ve nicked a goal towards the end. We put the Bolton defence under enough pressure during the course of the game but it just wasn’t to be. Konchesky putting a late free kick on the edge of the box, just over was the final real chance as Bolton spent much of the last 10-15 minutes time-wasting.
Still, overall not a surprising result. Strangely I didn’t feel at all despondent. I did feel a little disappointed believing that we should have been in the next round having taken the game to our opponents as much as we did on such a wet miserable night, but then again if things always went the way they should, we’d have nothing to moan about.
Our man of the match: For me it had to be Konchesky. All over the pitch and even put the ball in the net before it was ruled offside.
Most lively moment was coming out of the ground to be greeted by passing Bolton chavs. Thankfully they saw sense when they tried to goad this reporter who was walking with his 2 young children. But that’s perhaps a story for another day.
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Did okay but distribution is still awful. Made a couple of good saves.
Solid. Was often left with too much ground to defend.
Covers so much ground it’s frightening. Will become one of our greatest left backs if he carries on like he has been. Must work a little on free kicks though.
Inexperience showed at times but will improve.
Some good play but showed why perhaps he’s not quite ready to make the step up in the Premiership yet. He will though.
Reasonable enough but one or two mistakes. Got forward but sometimes wasn’t sure what to do with the ball when he could’ve gone for goal.
Mr Reliable(ish). Worked doggedly and showed he can be good as cover.
Did okay. Wasn’t expecting much given some of the views I’d heard but won a lot of tackles, even after a couple of attempts, showing that he’s not a quitter.
One foot but still more of a threat than another certain striker.
Waited too often for the ball to come to him, rather than going for the ball. Fell over after tackles, lost heart and only seemed to put in effort when ‘prompted’ by fans/players/bench.
Still some nice touches but cost us a lot of time/space through his lack of pace.
(Replaced Clarke, 72) Again, little time to impress but didn’t do much wrong.
(Replaced Sheringham, 73) Little time to impress but showed that he may be a good choice to start up front at present.
(Replaced Harewood, 86) Little time to impress.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Paul Konckesky.
West Ham United
Shaka Hislop, Tomas Repka, Paul Konchesky, James Collins, Elliott Ward, Clive Clarke, Christian Dailly, Hayden Mullins, David Bellion, Marlon Harewood, Teddy Sheringham.
Booked: Christian Dailly 75 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Walker, Ben-Haim, Jaidi, O'Brien, Gardner, Diagne-Faye, Fernandes, Nolan, Fadiga, Giannakopoulos, Borgetti.
Substitutes: Djetou (Diagne-Faye 45), Pedersen (Giannakopoulos 59), N`Gotty (Fernandes 79).
Subs not used: Jaaskelainen, Nakata.
Goals: Borgetti (64).
Booked: Diagne-Faye (17), Ben-Haim (46).
Sent Off: None sent off..
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