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Sunday, 28th October 2001

Ipwich Town 2
West Ham United 3

by Richard Osborne

Got to the ground 2 hours early, so easily found a space. My Ipswich buddy (Neil) and his young son (Michael) soon turned up and we hit a nice pub not far from the ground. I joked with Michael saying that it must be a treat for him to see a real team for a change and to watch out for Paulo and Jermain if he comes on, because they are very special talents. In retrospect I feel terrible, but who was to know the delights in store?

We started with a very strange line up. Shaka Hislop was between the sticks although the young pretender James got his first bench place as a Hammer. Schemmel, Foxe and Dailly took up their usual positions.

Strangely Winterburn and Minto were played so I can only assume that we were going for a 5-3-2 wingback formation. The middle was complemented with Carrick, Hutch and Tricky whilst up front Freddie and the captain/genious/maestro Di Canio took the helm.

We closed them down early on in a very fast paced game. We started very brightly again with some nice touches and passing. I shot out from my seat a number of times thinking we had scored only to be denied thanks to parallax (an illusion created by angles, not Ipswich's goalkeeper).

We were playing 5 at the back with Winterburn breaking into the
middle of the park to aid the midfield. Five minutes or so of sustained pressure from the Tractor Boys in the first half was suddenly subdued by abeautifully taken goal by our Captain from an inch perfect ball by Hutch which sliced open their defence.

At this point we took control of the game and never really lost it. An amazing piece of skill from PDC saw a ball cleared from our penalty area, the ball flew the length of the field. Di Canio not only controlled the ball which had travelled 70 or so yards with one touch, but laid it off at the same time - incredible (sorry Michael).

The referee it had to be said, had a terrible game. The first half saw Winterburn receive a card for supposedly standing in front of a free kick. He was in fact moving away from the incident with his back to the ball and would have needed to move at light speed to be clear by the time the Blues player had taken the kick.

Another incident saw a back pass by an Ipswich player from inside our half. Chased by Kanoute, Sereni picked the ball up - only to be waved on by the ref. Other incidents which saw Carrick unnecessarily booked and hand balls not given in the penalty area for both sides (thankfully Foxe was surrounded by 15 players at the time of his).

By the end of the first half, 1-0 up, all the play, Ipswich denied by the amazing Shaka, we were in full control.

The second half started well for us; breaking down their attacks and Kanoute playing the best I have ever seen him up front.

We started to sit back slightly and of course, the inevitable happened. A short spate of opposing corners and free kicks the ball was planted into the back of Shaka's net.

Roeder stood up and started to lift the team. Everyone was still up for it even though the Tractor Boys had drawn level. We started to push forward again and the order of the game resumed.

Hutch dribbled from the half way line to inside their 6 yard box and amazed everyone by not putting it in the back of the net himself. Instead he selflessly laid the ball behind Kanoute who had to turn 360 degrees to lash the ball home and score with a wicked defelection.

Paulo continued to be outstanding along with Kanoute (both of whom were very deep at times) but Hutch and Tricky took up the forward roles to fill the gaps. PDC taunted their defence with jaw dropping skill; beating 3 players at a time amongst other minor miracles.

A special word has to go to Schemmel and Carrick. They were both everywhere the whole time making important challenges and showing great distribution of the ball. Brilliant to see Carrick back on form and Schemmel just goes from strength to strength - take note Harry Redknapp.

Paulo, our only sub was taken off with 10 minutes to go for his own applause. Defoe came on and whilst still holding the captains armband in his right hand got onto the end of a wonderful pass, beat the last defender to the ball and slotted it past Sereni with ease - what a striker!

3-1 with seconds to go saw the ex-Hammer Matty Holland, who was their only threat throughout the game strike an incredible 30 yard shot to beat Shaka.

We were for the whole game the more talented squad showing better team play than Ipswich. The last part of that statement fills me with the most pride and optimism for the future.

I met my friend Neil and his son Michael on our way out. It was very difficult finding any words of comfort for them especially in the joyous mood I was in.

We were of course in the same state of depression only a couple of weeks ago, but our season has now taken off with a bang.

Surprises:

No Courtois - is he injured?

No Song - obviously no future for him at WHU

No McCann - also absent (please don't be too down about the og.)

Included Pottsy - made the bench

Included James - warming up at Half Time - is that an afro he is now sporting?

Rich Osborne


Player ratings:

Hislop (9) Outstanding. We could have been 3 or 4 goals down if it wasn't for Shaka.

Schemmel (10) By a narrow margin, the best player on the park.

Dailly (7) A few shakey moments but actually played ok.

Foxe (8) A really good game from him, must start with Repka on Saturday.

Winterburn (8) Don't know what position he played, but as usual was giving his all.

Minto (8) The biggest surprise inclusion; had a good game.

Carrick (9) In on every tackle, showed good distribution, back on form.

Hutchison (7) Despite his run he still lacks the form we know he is capable of. He is still settling into a side which plays football, not just barging players and hoofing the long ball like he did for his former club.

Sinclair (7) No boos this time which is a refreshing change. Still felt the crowds lack of warmth towards him, but I guess that will come. Constant threat down the right.

Kanoute (9) The best I have ever seen him play. Back in our own half getting the ball, taking players on left right and centre, heading every opposing corner away, shots galore (the list is endless)

Di Canio (10) One of those games where he controlled 22 players on the park. A pleasure to watch and gifts us with a beautiful goal.

Subs:

Defoe (9) Can't argue with his contribution.

Bring on Fulham ...

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