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Saturday, 22nd December 2001

Leicester City 1
West Ham United 1

by Vinny Ryan

I had been trying to work out whether I should go to this one, as West Ham being West Ham it might just ruin my Christmas. Still, I decided to go and support the team at the freezing cold dump that is Filbert Street.

I had never really looked around Filbert Street before but as the match was, on the whole, dire, my eyes started to wander. It amazed me how a stadium like that is still standing; it's as bad as the old Dell. Thankfully they're getting a new stadium next year. Shame we won't be going there.

Anyway - on to the match.

Well it wasn't great and er.... not much of a match. But still we were treated to some great Andy Impey tricks...! The first 20 minutes were ours; I felt if we could up the tempo we could win. But it just never happened. We won a few corners, but as usual they came to nothing.

Leicester started to get more confident and more pressure was being put on our defence - which is not a good thing. The Leicester crowd were getting on James' back (I don't mean they were all jumping on him!) and it looked as if it was affecting him as he started to slice his kicks, and fumble a few. You could say he was having a Shaka.

Just before half time Leicester scored through a deflected Muzzy Izzet shot. I felt the two players running out to try and close him down (I can't remember who they were) should have done better. Izzet got his shot in far too easily.

So half time, 1-0 down. Not what a lot of us had expected after the excellent performances against Manchester United and Arsenal.

Our crowd were very quiet - which was unusual. I don't know if a lot of 'regular' away supporters didn't get tickets as usual, as there were only 1,200 of us.

The Leicester fans were the gobbiest lot of supporters I have witnessed all season. They seem to have this hatred of West Ham, which I found surprising. But they were going to be silenced later on in the second half.

As in the first half, we started brightly and we were in and around
their box - but nothing was really going on. It didn't look like we were going to score until the 72nd minute when Joe Cole raced into the box only to be bundled over by Matt Elliott; the result, a penalty given.

Elliott went a little mad after that. He pushed Joey Cole to the floor which incensed our wantaway winger Trevor Sinclair. Trevor raced in at Elliott who headbutted him so clearly that it was inevitable that he would see red - and he did. Sinclair got a yellow for his troubles.

So we had a penalty. And up stepped the main man - Paolo Di Canio. He had missed one against Villa a few games ago and I could sense that the crowd didn't want him to take this. But he did - and did he try something different? Nope, he went for that same little chip again and Ian Walker just could not get to it. 1-1.

I went straight over to the Leicester crowd to have a look at their faces - it was a great sight. Something seem to happen between Di Canio and a steward after he scored. I don't know if the steward went to hit Paolo or what, but I'm sure something occurred.

So we had about 15 minutes left - surely we would put on some pressure?

Well this is West Ham, and we never do things in a straightforward way! We put on hardly any pressure with only Defoe having a few shots.

So it ended 1-1; we are now unbeaten in our last four games - but with only one win in seven.

Today we should have done better, but in the end a draw was okay. Derby next - we have to start to work our way up the table

Player ratings:

David James (6) His kicking was awful and he spilled it a few times. I think the Leicester fans getting on his back didn't help.

Seb Schemmel (6) He was sound at the back. Didn't do much wrong but several of his crosses were awful.

Tomas Repka (6) Gave away too many free kicks - but apart from that he was solid.

Christian Dailly (6) Much the same as Repka, but let down at times by his distribution.

Nigel Winterburn (6) He was largely anonymous. Which isn't a bad thing.

Trevor Sinclair (6) Worked hard down the left and tried hard to run at the opposition - but was ineffective for the most.

Michael Carrick (6) He looked very good in the opening 20 minutes, but much like the entire team it got worse from there. He faded out of the game in the second half.

Joe Cole (6) He put in some good tackles and won the penalty but there was just not enough room to spread the passes.

Don Hutchison (6) Tried in vain to make something happen. He looked as if he was being marked tightly; it seemed to work.

Paolo Di Canio (6) Paolo worked very hard and most of our attacks were through him. But Leicester seemed to push him out to the wing where he got lost half way through the first half, and for the majority of the second half. Took the penalty and scored.

Jermain Defoe (6) There was no supply for Jermain and nothing he did came off.

Sub:

Paul Kitson (6) Only on for a few minutes.

Overall, a decent result - even though I feel we should be beating Leicester. Four games without defeat now!

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