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Saturday, 22nd December 2001

Leicester City 1
West Ham United 1

by Liam Tyrell

After performing so well against Manchester United and Arsenal there was always the fear the we would slip up against lowly Leicester.

West Ham remain as inconsistent as ever but at least something stayed constant at Filbert Street. That was the performance of Joe Cole, outstanding for the third game in succession in the centre of midfield.

He was heavily involved from the off in what was a bright enough opening for the Hammers. However it soon became apparent that the Foxes felt the desire to win more than our boys. We were clearly a class above them in terms of skillfull moves but evidently second best in terms of effort. It was like watching Leicester's Ford Fiestas versus Roeder's Rollers, but the home side seemed to be the better runners on the day.

Bassett's boys were showing the type of application to the game the Foxes had under Martin O'Neill together with a few old Wimbledon traits. It's not pretty or effective - or Izzet?

Well Muzzy wasn't bothered as he fired the Foxes in front just 2 minutes before the break. The Hammers fans shot from the edge of the area somehow found it's way through the ruck of players,
past a frozen to the spot David James. Our keeper had initially flapped at a cross that resulted in the corner from which the goal resulted.

At the interval I could not see a way back unless we stepped up a gear or two. The away fans in the cowshed of a stand were strangely subdued but there was little on the pitch to give us any festive cheer.

Whatever was said in the warmth of the dressing room it did have some effect as at least we started to show a little more effort. Yet a dodgy David James continued to look uneasy whilst World Cup squad rival Walker barely had a shot to save.

How fitting it was though that Joe Cole helped warm the cockles of our frozen hearts. He was a constant threat with his tricky and
purposeful runs from midfield. Lilly Savage followed his every move but Joe was relishing the battle.

Another surge from Joe resulted in centre backs Elliott and Marshall blocking his route to goal. As he turned away though
Cole's calf was caught by the psuedo Scot Elliott. The Foxes skipper seemed none too pleased by the dramatic manner in which Joe hit the deck, so he kicked him while he was down.

Not so clever Trevor wanted a word with the fake sweaty sock and got a Glasow kiss for his troubles. Off he went , thankfully referee Wolstenholme spotted Matty's moment of madness whilst Sincs saw yellow.

A bit of gamesmanship ensued as we waited an age for Leicester to let us take the spot kick. Paolo stayed calm and even had the cheek to do his chip shot trick past Walker.

The drama didn't stop there however as Paolo ran to the gleeful away side. I was on the front row and just as we were embracing the goalscorer in celebration all hell was let loose.

The stewards went mental and dragged him away, Hutch and a few others were not happy. All manner of objects rained down on us and the players, including 50 pence pieces, and one over the top bouncer steward appeared to want to take on all challengers. Once it all had clamed down slightly the club stewards shared their anger with us at the outside firm of stewards, Showsec. By the look of them they were all ex Baby Squad members, time they grew up methinks.

The muppet home fans in the kop were annoying throughout, but it must also be said that old Hammer toes Impey didn't make a fuss of the balti pie that hit him from our side.

The goal on 74 minutes gave everyone a massive lift as we attempted to kill off the Foxes. The hunt for the winning goal proved fruitless though as we failed to create any real openings.

The ten men held on and, worryingly for us, had the better of the last 5 minutes. We clearly missed the power and presence of Fredi up front, we must hope he can make a difference against a Derby side that will be hard to break down on Boxing Day.

Many of us on leaving Leicester felt that although we should have gone on to win against ten men after the leveller, it was a point gained as we were so under par.

Player ratings:

David James (6) Jittery day for Jamo. A doubt before the game perhaps he was feeling the effects of his cold.

Seb Schemmel (7) Usual energetic display, no real telling input in advanced positions and fluffed a host of crosses.

Christian Dailly (7) Once again gave a sound enough display and he and Repka must be applauded for stopping Brian Deane grabbing his customary goal against us. The fact that Deano was substituted before the end showed how well our boys snuffed out his cumbersome threat.

Tomas Repka (7) Scowcroft and Deane kept him busy but battled manfully against the up and at 'em tactics.

Nigel Winterburn (6) Didn't get forward much as Leicester closed down well. Kept it simple when pressured.

Don Hutchison (7) Heavily involved in a lot of the neat midfield moves but unable to provide any killer passes. Frustrating again for much of the game.

Michael Carrick (7) Like Hutch saw plenty of the ball, got stuck in but wasted possession with too many loose long raking passes.

Joe Cole (8) Another influential display from Joe. Only matched by that of Muzzy Izzett. Lit up a dull game with some magical moments. One in particular where he appeared to bottle a challenge. He knew what he was doing though as he jumped up and played a deft flick whilst avoiding the tackle .Had the fire in his belly to fight the nuisance that was Savage. Man of the match.

Trevor Sinclair (6) Largely ineffective on the left. More effort went into the tussle with Elliott than during the entire game.

Paolo Di Canio (6) Is this our last sight of our Latin legend in the claret and blue? I hope not but despite his penalty trick it was far from one of his better displays. After being behind our better moves he seemed to lose interest as the game progressed.

Jermain Defoe (6) Didn't get much service, his shoot on site policy failed to work when he did get a sniff. At least we can relish the prospect of the JD and Fredi pairing for the Liverpool game.

Sub:

Paul Kitson (6) Leicester old boy had little time to make any sort of impression on the game.

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