Saturday, 5th November 2005
After last week’s usual reverse in Scouseville, we all arrived at the Boleyn Ground looking for a win. We are doing great, but there’s also a nagging concern that we might get sucked into a relegation battle with a bad run of form.
The game didn’t actually start at 3 p.m. as there was havoc on the A13, and it was decided to give delayed fans another ten minutes to get to the ground.
When the team finally emerged, it was the expected line up: Shaka in goal; Tom, Gabbers, Anton and Konch across the back; Yossi, Mullins, Reo-Coker and Matty in midfield; and Teddy and Marlon up front. Bywater (recalled from his loan spell at Coventry), Bellion, Dailly, Z-man and Newton were on the bench.
Playing towards the North Bank, we created a good chance in the very first minute, when Marlon won a great header on the edge of the box, sending the ball towards Teddy in the box. Unfortunately he bounced off Clement, the last defender, and fell over.
Two minutes later it was Teddy who returned the favour to Marlon with a fine pass into the box. Marlon seemed to run sideways and take an age before he blasted a shot which was blocked by a defender on the ground for a corner on the West Ham left. The ball was whipped into the near post where it was flicked on across the face of the goal. Anton got his head on it, but it evaded at least two West Ham players in the six yard box.
Look, I can spell
On 7 minutes Tom – who is a different player at home – won a great header to send Marlon on a chase goalwards, but he was just beaten to the ball in the box by West Brom’s Polish ‘keeper Kuszczac.
A minute later, Teddy was the playmaker again with a beautiful laid off ball to send Konch on his way down the left. His cross was good but it was cut out well for a corner.
West Brom managed their first move of note on 9 minutes, after Tom committed himself to a tackle unnecessarily, allowing himself to be bypassed by Kamara. Running into the box, he plumped for the shot rather than the cross across the box, and he hit the side netting.
Four minutes later, Teddy had a good opportunity after Gabbers found him in a central position just outside the box with a nice ball over the top that deflected off Konch’s back. He had some time to measure up a shot, but he looped the ball poorly over the bar, when he should have hit the target.
On the quarter hour, Yossi conceded a free kick down the right but in a training ground move, the whole defence piled out of the box leaving the West Brom attack offside, ruling out a headed goal which the away support were prematurely celebrating. Given that their team has only scored once on its travels so far this season, they must be getting desperate.
Two minutes later Kamara found some space in the middle and made a run forward, but he sent his shot wide of the right hand post.
Teddy the playmaker was at it again on 20 minutes after he made an excellent reverse pass to set Yossi free in the box. He ran in menacingly on goal, but in the end he was forced slightly wide and allowed the ‘keeper to close down the angles and make a save down near his post. From the corner that resulted, another one quickly followed. For not the first time, Yossi sent in a near post ball and Teddy managed to get his head on it. Marlon was waiting near the other post and he laid it back for Mullins who blasted a half volley wastefully over.
Senegalese cock up
Earnshaw weaved around brilliantly on the edge of the West Ham box on 23 minutes and outfoxed Anton to send over a chipped ball. Kamara had a free header but instead of nodding towards a corner, he inexplicably directed towards Shaka, who gathered the ball comfortably.
5 minutes later, Yossi got free down the right and he put over a great diagonal ball along the ground, but Marlon couldn’t slide onto it and direct it into the net. The Israeli was involved again just a couple of minutes later when he shimmied through the middle, but his through ball was just overhit.
Two great opportunities to score came our way on 35 minutes. First, Marlon used his strength to power into the box and unleash a shot which the ‘keeper could only parry. Teddy gathered it up but he had his back to goal. The right option was the lay off and this was executed perfectly to find Yossi who looked like he had the goal at his mercy. There were a lot of West Brom bodies in the goalmouth, though, and although he attempted to circumvent the defenders, his shot hit one of them on the line.
On 37 minutes, Inamoto put through a nicely weighted pass which Earnshaw was looking to pick up inside the box. Gabbers whose pace is a great strength in his game beat his fellow countryman to it.
Another goal chance then followed for West Ham on 39 minutes after Matty beat his man down the left. Teddy picked the ball up and got a cross over, but this flashed past the face of the goal again.
Every game has its comedy moment and this happened with two minutes of ordinary time left in the half. West Brom put the ball out after an injury to Nigel and Teddy kicked the ball back towards the West Brom goal to give them back possession. Marlon strangely intercepted it and the ref went running rather nervously forward to remind him to give the ball back, “Go on Marlon”, shouted a bloke near me.
Nice play, shame about the lack of goals
That was about it for the first half where we had played some nice fluent passing football. Yossi and Teddy were pulling the strings. We should have been in the lead, although Kamara probably had the best chance of the half. The main concern was that we might get punished for not taking advantage of our superiority. One West Ham fan in the East Stand - 90 years old today according to a tannoy announcement - no doubt had seen it all before.
Nigel’s knock just before half time – it looked like a twisted ankle – meant that Dailly appeared for the second half.
Just after the linesman’s flag broke and he had to have a new one, Watson nearly scored for West Brom on 49 minutes. He got his shot away from just inside the box and Shaka half spilt it, allowing Kamara to try and get a foot on it which ended up in our ‘keeper’s face.
Two minutes later, Konch looked like he was pretty cornered deep in his own half, but he somehow managed to stroke a lovely ball forward which bounced nicely and sent Marlon on his way. As he bore down on goal, he was put under pressure and hit his shot into the side netting. The west side of the stadium thought for a second that it had gone in.
The old master does it again
What turned out to be the match winning goal arrived 11 minutes into the half. Yossi won a free kick just inside the West Brom half and Tom stepped up to take it. He put over a deep ball into the left hand side of the box and Dailly rose well to nod the ball across the goal. Teddy was there to take a great touch and then apply a deadly finish to beat the ‘keeper at the far post. It was nothing more than you would expect from the old master.
Shaka hadn’t recovered from his kick in the face, and Bywater had to come on to replace him on 59 minutes. Our ‘keepers do not seem to be having the best of luck with injuries at the moment.
Two minutes later, a long clearance from a West Brom corner saw Yossi running forward on his own. Kuszczac was alive to the threat and came out of his area to head the ball away but it fell to Teddy who tried a first time shot which hit the chest of a covering defender.
Bywater was called upon to make his first save on 64 minutes and he did this comfortably from a West Brom player just inside the box. Then two minutes later, Marlon chased down a back pass and he nearly charged the ball down into the net. The Polish goalkeeper looked decidedly dodgy with the ball at his feet on several occasions during the match.
Yossi made another useful break forward on 70 minutes after good work by Tom down the right. He jinked the ball forward in an attempt to find Marlon, but this was cut out for a corner.
The disappointing Earnshaw – who had been marshalled effectively by Gabbers throughout the match – was replaced by Geoff Horsfield with around 15 minutes left. Another slow traditional centre forward was introduced in the form of Kevin Campbell for Kanu 8 minutes later. Robson seems to have a lot of strikers at his disposal, but none seem brilliantly convincing.
For all that, West Brom might have snuck a draw with just 4 minutes left. A high ball was launched forward which was only half cleared by Gabbers. Ronnie Wallwork stooped forward and made a cushioned header to Kamara who was free in the box. Fortunately his shot was abject, slicing past Bywater’s right hand post.
The game degenerated into a number of free kicks and Dailly and Mullins ended up with yellow cards in the dying minutes. It was all very scrappy and unsophisticated, but we managed to see out the four minutes added time and collect another vital three points.
Poor play paid dividend
This game had the feel of a disjointed Championship game in the second half and there was not a great deal of quality on show. The loss of Reo-Coker at half time certainly seemed to have a real adverse effect on our midfield play. There were a lot of long punts forward where the midfield was simply bypassed. Ironically, the poorer play delivered the goal, while the quick fluent passing in the first half didn’t bring us the breakthrough.
On this evidence, the Baggies will struggle to repeat their Harry Houdini act of last season. Our defeat by them of two seasons ago seems to be nothing more than a distant memory. We weren’t brilliant today, but we prevailed.
Anyway, we are now heading towards the game I have been really waiting for – when we meet those lillysh*te t*ssers at Sh*te Hart Lane. I am truly hopeful that Bolton will do ’em on Monday so that we have to chance to go above ‘em in the league. Now wouldn’t that just be the sweetest thing? Big club my ar*e, bring the f*ckers on, I say. Uncle Fester, you Dutch tw*t, we are coming to turn your boys over.
(Player ratings by Gordon Thrower)
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Looked confident throughout up to the bang on the head. Looked groggy afterwards.
Apart from one early error when he dived in to let Kamara in, this was another fine home effort. Loved the celebration with Pardew for the goal!
Yet another excellent run out for Konch. With a bit of luck he might have to miss out on the team’s team bonding session in Spain due to being required by England in Geneva.
Nothing much seems to faze this guy. When the opposition plays the ball on the floor he’s comfortable. When they throw it up in the air he’s equally happy. Excellent match.
Like Repka he had one silly moment when he allowed Earnshaw to get a cross in. However he knuckled down after that and had another good match.
Ran his legs off and performed that breaking up role in the middle superbly.
Was having a decent match until injury curtailed his afternoon. The way the match developed after he went spoke volumes for his influence.
Not as dominant as he can be he still played some nice touches and caused a few problems.
Well taken goal that, as ever, owed as much to Young Edward’s speed of thought rather than his, er, legendary pace over the ground.
A bright start but faded as the match wore on until disappearing from view in the second half.
A lot of running but yet another frustrating afternoon in front of goal.
(Replaced Reo-Coker, 45) A fine performance in the middle – when we needed to get stuck in he was there and he played a major part in the goal.
(Replaced Hislop, 60) We used to have a ‘keeper called Bywater – this one looked a lot like him only this one can kick! Made a couple of useful saves when coming on for Hislop.
(Replaced Benayoun, 90) Given a few minutes at the end. Not really enough time to make an impression, though he may also have been confused by the fact that he had replaced Yossi rather than Etherington for once!
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Hayden Mullins.
West Ham United
Shaka Hislop, Tomas Repka, Paul Konchesky, Danny Gabbidon, Anton Ferdinand, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Teddy Sheringham, Matthew Etherington, Marlon Harewood.
Goals: Teddy Sheringham 56 .
Booked: Christian Dailly 88 Hayden Mullins 89 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
West Bromwich Albion
Kuszczak, Albrechtsen, Wallwork, Davies, Clement, Watson, Greening, Inamoto, Earnshaw, Kamara, Kanu.
Substitutes: Horsfield (Earnshaw 74), Campbell (Kanu 84).
Subs not used: Hoult, Carter, Moore.
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..