Saturday, 19th August 2006
Of course not everyone is as prepared for the season as the average fan. The lovely girlfriend, for example. Being raised in South Africa, sport to her is not a thing of beauty. It is not a thing of grace, intelligence and subtlety. In short, to her, sport is rugby. However, even allowing for her total disinterest in the finer things in life I was totally stunned by the question she asked of me as I got ready on Saturday morning: “What have you got planned for the day?”
Well what I had in mind was a few beers, three points and a curry. Part one of the plan commenced near Oxford Circus as Goes To Eleven commenced the traditional wetting the baby’s head, ably assisted by Chalks. The bet was that Bonehead would turn up wearing a cap and moaning about the trains We got the trains bit right though he actually left the cap at home. As a public service here’s the deal with his trains. He has to walk through some woods to Crowthorne then change at Wokingham to get a connection to Waterloo. There – that should save you a few minutes next time he collars you in the pub.
The opening overs dealt with we repaired to the Wakefield where Chalks actually bought a round. This was an historic event on a par with the return of Halley’s Comet or Sunderland winning a match. Shame he managed to fail to buy a complete round really but from the photographs I have on my phone his mind seemed to be on other things. Not that I’d do anything as scary as publishing them on this site. Not yet anyway. I think it’s your round again mate. Bonehead having told everyone about the intricacies of the South West Trains timetable I moved on to the ground. Team news was that Mears got the nod over Pa(i)ntsil whose name was down on the official team sheet without the “I”. Bowyer was about to make his second debut leaving us with a starting line-up of Carroll, Mears, Konchesky, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Bowyer, Mullins, Benayoun, Reo-Coker,Harewood & Zamora.
We started brightly. Very brightly. There was tempo and invention. The first opportunity came at the end of a flowing move involving NRC, Harewood and Bowyer whose shot over might have taken an uncredited deflection off Luke “what medical?” Young. NRC’s superb ball inside the full-back then found Konch in marauding mood down the left. The cross was excellent and found Yossi who could only head over – the general opinion was that if either Zamora or Harewood had been on the end of the cross we’d have been 1-0 up. As it was you could see that Yossi thought he should have done better.
Another fine ball inside the full back from Bowyer – this time down the right – found Harewood whose low driven cross was just what was required, Carson doing extremely well to cut out the danger on the edge of his 6 yard box.
Charlton had produced little up to this point though “Failed Medical’s” promising run into the box required a well-timed intervention from Gabbidon and Ferdinand.
Back up the other end Yossi’s long throw caused Charlton problems only for NRC’s shot from thr loose ball to sail over whilst, in a rare excursion from their own territory Hasselbaink’s snap shot from distance sailed harmlessly high and wide.
So having dominated the proceedings we somehow contrived to go 1-0 down to a side that had barely got out of their own half. A long cross from the left saw Gabbidon caught a couple of feet out of position and the Welshman inexplicably waved his arm in the general direction of the ball. Contact, if any, was minimal but confusion reigned as the ref and lino decided that a corner was in order. However, following Hasselbaink’s little tantrum the officials changed their collective minds and, after a brief chat, decided that it was a penalty. Given the decision, I suppose Gabbidon might be considered lucky to stay on, though the deflection was so slight it’s fairly clear that Hasselbaink’s dive would still have missed the ball albeit by not quite as much . Bent (D) buried the penalty low into the corner to give the visitors a thoroughly undeserved lead. As happened this time last year, the visitors’ celebrations lasted a matter of seconds before being drowned out by “Bubbles” as the home support continued the very welcome tradition of getting behind the team in adversity.
Traore entered the book for a horrible challenge that went straight through Bowyer and not only took his legs but flogged them on e-bay as well. The free-kick was put out for a corner from which Bowyer, Benayoun and Konchesky all combined only for Zamora to get underneath the header and put it over. Further good work from Zamora found Harewood in space on the right but another low cross into the box failed to find a colleague, ending up going out for a throw.
Then the wheels came off big time for Charlton. Traore hauled Harewood down. Bowyer cleverly tried to take the quick free-kick. Traore stuck out a foot to block it thus, in refspeak, deliberately delaying the restart. It was a daft thing to do when already on a yellow and the former Liverpool man couldn’t really complain – though I don’t suppose that’ll stop him. Ref Webb promptly produced the second yellow and it was bathtime for Djimi.
Another short corner on the left saw Yossi & Bowyer combine once more. Zamora’s header was superb, Carson’s save even better. Marlon headed the loose ball home but his unsubtle nudge on a defender saw the goal rightly ruled out. Charlton took the opportunity to make the change necessitated by Traore’s moment of madness and replaced Ambrose with Sorondo to shore up the defence that, even when fully staffed, had struggled to cope.
Then we had a penalty shout of our own. Marlon got the better of his marker only to see his cross blocked by Holland’s outstretched hand. The decision to play on was somewhat baffling given that Webb had previously elected to award a penalty based on guesswork. We continued to push forward. Bowyer’s cross eluded Zamora and Carson. Yossi kept the ball in and the pressure on as his cross caused consternation . Harewood fell over and was promptly booked by Webb for diving. Now I’m all in favour of punishing divers but please can we do it when someone actually dives? The booking was a poor decision and, if Webb applies the same principles at Anfield or Stamford Bridge later this season, we can look forward to a cardfest. I don’t suppose he will though – consistency being something of a problem for him over 90 minutes let alone over the course of more than one match.
More good work on the right involving Yossi caused further apoplexy but Bowyer and Zamora got in eachothers way. Zamora then set up Harewood nicely but Carson saved well down to his left. Harewood then won another corner which was pulled back to the edge of the box. Mears took a touch before unleashing a marvellously clean strike. If anything it was too clean and his shot flew past the far post just failing to bend enough to go in.
Ref Webb then frustrated the home side before the break by frustratingly delaying a free-kick three times whilst playing with his earpiece. This should have earned him his own yellow for delaying the restart. Presumably, having one eye on his half time cuppa, he was having trouble getting his instructions regarding milk & sugar through to Milly over the local drum & bass pirate radio station.
So the first half ended with us undeservedly behind. We had dominated so much that the penalty was probably Charlton’s only on-target effort in the half. I felt fairly confident we could turn things around. A tactical change was made at the interval. Mears, who is known as Terry in our part of our part of the ground as part of our “Campaign for Proper Footballer Names”, was replaced by Pa(i)ntsil for the second period.
We started the second half much as we’d played the first – pushing forward – and we didn’t have to wait long for the equaliser. Mullins pushed forward, beat a man easily and fed Bowyer wide on the right. Bowyer’s cross into the “corridor of uncertainty” was sublime, Yossi got a diving flick on and Zamora was on hand at the back stick to tap in from close range. It was a more difficult finish than it looked as the ball bounced up awkwardly but Zamora did well to control the tap-in. The build-up was excellent but I’d dearly like to know why Bobby looks so angry when he scores. Cheer up mate you’ve scored!
We survived a scare shortly after the goal when El Karkouri’s 45 yard – yes 45 – free kick swerved all over the place, Carroll doing well to keep out both shot and rebound but opposition forays into home territory were rare. Hasselbaink – dubbed the “Fat Eddie Murphy” by the wags – was replaced by Bent (M) and shortly after Konchesky picked up a deserved yellow for ending a n attempted Charlton break with a somewhat cynical trip on Bent (D).
We took the lead on 66 minutes. Bowyer did his man up a treat on the left hand side cutting in to the box. Bowyer either made a complete hash of his shot or ittook a deflection. Either way it ended up in the path of Zamora – well slightly behind him actually. Bobby did well to divert the ball goal bound and saw a deflection off a defender take the ball off the post past the keeper and, hilariously, past another defender whose air shot was pure Keystone Kops. Not the best goal you’ll ever see but it’ll do for me until they start giving extra points for artistic impression.
More one-way traffic ensued. Yossi’s shot from distance was wide. Pa(i)ntsil’s good work found Harewood who created space for himself in the box before putting his shot wide when perhaps a ball across the box might have been the better option. Yossi’s clever flick nearly caught Carson napping. Even Mullins had a dig. Charlton brought on the chunky figure of Reid for Hughes in an attempt to stem the flow of attacks from the right hand side.
Then came the move of the match. Konchesky played the ball into Mullins who fed Bowyer who fed Zamora who laid the ball back to Mullins. Mullins played a smashing little through ball on to Bowyer who had continued the run only to se his first time strike hit the base of the post with Carson nowhere. It was a brilliant move. Simple one-touch football that was a delight to watch and the extende applause from the crowd was merited.
Charlton had the ball in the net shortly after but the goal was rightly disallowed, Bent (D) having kicked the ball out of Carroll’s hands. Zamora left to be replaced by the Premiership’s oldest outfield player, E Sheringham esq. Ref Webb had been a bit quiet but almost handed Charlton what would have been a travesty of an equaliser. Yossi was hauled over. Somehow the ref decided this should result in a Charlton free-kick. It was a bad decision that could have cost us as Carroll failed to get anywhere near the cross only to see Serondo head harmlessly over. The news that there would be four minutes stoppage time chilled me somewhat as I recalled the last time I’d heard that particular announcement. I needn’t have worried.
Cole replaced Harewood and made an instant impact. Bowyer’s clever ball over the top found the new-boy in acres and he took one touch to control the ball before beating Carson low at his near post. I guess if you’re going to score for a new club 24 seconds into your career is a pretty good time in which to do it!
And that was about it. The points were well-deserved against a team who, even before the sending-off, had looked poor. 40+ years of supporting this team have led me to adopt a cautious view of things at the start of the season – I’ve seen enough false dawns in my time. However, I was pleased with the professional way the side went about its business and there were some spells of excellent football.
I returned to the Wakefield post-match in time to hear Bonehead’s latest rant about the South West Trains timetable and to partake in a few shots of some unidentified liquid (thanks whoever kept buying me those). I returned home armed with a Lamb Biriyani for ‘er indoors. Yeah I know I spoil that woman!
By the way pet – I’m at Watford on Tuesday and Liverpool next weekend if you’re reading this!
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A good save from the freak 45-yard effort but was not really tested by a Charlton side who barely mustered any attacks worthy of the name.
A good half defensively and possibly unlucky to be replaced at half time. Looks to have a bit of a shot on him. Promising.
Spared defensive duties by Charlton’s lack of attacking he thoroughly enjoyed himself bombing forward.
Looked comfortable against the fat Eddie Murphy and thankfully showed no reaction to the hamstring injury that messed up his pre-season.
Recovered from a shaky start but really shouldn’t have been waving his arm anywhere near the ball irrespective of whether or not he made contact.
Did his usual quietly effective job. Win the ball, lay it off. Doesn’t stand out but performed an important role nevertheless.
A quiet afternoon for the skipper. Not a bad game but not as influential as he can normally be.
Did more in 90 minutes than in the whole of his previous West Ham career to date. Desperately unlucky not to get on the scoresheet at the end of the move of the match.
A good match – seems to have recovered well from his various injury problems.
Improved as the game wore on and his confidence grew. Good, if simple finish for the first and the wicked spin he put on for the second bamboozled the Charlton defence. Probably.
Gave the opposition defence a hard time without quite frightening them to death in the way we know he can. Unluckily booked.
(Replaced Mears, 45) Linked up well with Bowyer in the second half – another one who had little to do defensively.
(Replaced Zamora, 82) Became the oldest player etc etc. Gave the ball away a couple of times.
(Replaced Harewood, 90+2) Can’t really argue with that start!
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Lee Bowyer.
West Ham United
Roy Carroll, Tyrone Mears, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Lee Bowyer, Yossi Benayoun, Bobby Zamora, Marlon Harewood.
Goals: Bobby Zamora 52 Bobby Zamora 66 Carlton Cole 90 .
Booked: Marlon Harewood 35 Paul Konchesky 65 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Traore, Ambrose, Holland, Faye, Hughes, Hasselbaink, D.Bent..
Substitutes: Sorondo (Ambrose 29), M.Bent (Hasselbaink 64), Reid (Hughes 71).
Subs not used: Myhre, Rommedahl.
Goals: D.Bent (15 pen).
Booked: Traore (23), Young (47)..
Sent Off: Traore (26)..