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West Ham Utd 2 Millwall 1

Filed: Saturday, 4th February 2012
By: Staff Writer

West Ham have moved five points clear at the top of the Championship thanks to a 2-1 win against neighbours Millwall in a scintillating derby at the Boleyn Ground this lunchtime.

Winston Reid's 69th minute strike - which followed an opener by Carlton Cole that was nullified by Liam Trotter's equaliser - was enough to win United all three points and give them their first home win over their bitter rivals in the league for 21 years.

However Sam Allardyce's men had to do it the hard way after losing Kevin Nolan with just eight minutes played. The West Ham captain was shown a straight red card by controversial referee Mike Jones for what he deemed to be a challenge worthy of an instant dismissal.

Jones - who went on to book six more, fail to issue second cautions to at least two Millwall players already carded for blatant fouls and play six minutes of added on time when there were no stoppages in the second half - is no stranger to controversy where United are concerned.

For he was the man in charge at the Britannia Stadium last March when West Ham were knocked out of the FA Cup by Stoke thanks to two hugely controversial goals, neither of which should have been allowed due to blatant fouls in the build up to each.

The inept Jones left the Boleyn Ground also feeling the ire of the away fans for allowing Winston Reid's winner to stand, despite a clear foul by Julian Faubert on goalkeeper David Forde in the build-up to the goal.

West Ham - who went into the game with what most considered to be an unnecessarily defensive formation against a side struggling at the foot of the table - looked at sixes and sevens in the opening exchanges.

And when the card-happy Jones pulled out a red for Nolan's late challenge on the Lions' Jack Smith after just eight minutes, West Ham's chances of producing their first home win over Millwall in the league since 1991 looked bleak.

But the Hammers, looking a far better side with ten men than they had prior to Nolan's early dismissal struck a killer blow at the perfect time to give themselves a massive psychological advantage to take into the second period.

Mark Noble's free kick - awarded two minutes into added-on time after the eventual goalscorer was felled whilst challenging for a long clearance by Rob Green - was aimed towards the far post where Winston Reid nodded it back towards goal.

Cole - showing the natural goalscoring instinct that often evades him - pounced to send his header firmly over the head of goalkeeper Forde and into the back of the net, seconds before the half time whistle was blown.

"They've given a high profile match requiring intelligence, honesty and integrity to an official noted for lacking any such qualities. Nice one."
- Preview Percy on referee Mike Jones, KUMB.com match preview

The second half was a far more cagey affair but the Hammers still looked good value for the lead until Liam Trotter - who else? - took advantage of indecision by Abdoulaye Faye to level the scores on 66 minutes.

The veteran centre half, restored to the starting line-up for the first time since the 3-0 defeat at Reading six weeks ago tried to usher the ball out for a goal kick.

However Faye's indecision allowed Millwall's Marcus Henderson to poke the ball back into the box where Trotter found the only area of the goal in which he could feasibly aim to make it one-apiece.

The joy of the travelling 1,500 supporters - situated neatly out of harms' way in the upper tier of the Trevor Brooking Stand - was to last for just three minutes before centre-half Reid struck the killer blow.

A long-ball aimed down the throat of Millwall's defence should have been meat and drink for 'keeper Forde, formerly of West Ham, but he bizarrely opted to punch the ball instead of catch it.

As he did so, flying Frenchman Faubert - who enjoyed one of his best ever games in claret and blue - clearly impeded him, leaving Forde in a crumpled heap on the floor.

However referee Jones amazingly allowed play to continue and Reid, positioned some 25 yards from goal hit a superb volley that flew into the back of the empty net. So annoyed was Forde that he was booked a good six minutes later for his persistent complaints.

Millwall proceeded to throw everything at the Hammers in a desperate bid for an equaliser but their lack of craft and class was clearly evident as Rob Green was tested just the once in the ensuing 25 minutes - that being when sub Ryan Mason blew a gilt-edged chance from just eight yards out after the ball had been worked wide of West Ham's defensive line.

Other than that, the visitors' only chance in the second half came on 77 minutes when a beautifully-struck 30-yard drive from Alan Dunne narrowly evaded Green's far post, with the England 'keeper scrambling to his right.

West Ham could have put the game to bed well before then had either of Julien Faubert's (a glancing header that clipped the bar and rebounded to safety) or James Tomkins' (a goal bound header from a corner cleared off the line shortly after the Lions' equaliser) second half efforts found the net.

As it was, United clung on to take all three points - even though they had to fend off their opponents for six additional minutes; quite why they came from, no-one but referee Jones will know.

You have to go back to 26th November to find the last time Sam Allardyce's side won by more than a single goal (3-1 against Derby) - although that will be of little concern tonight after a fantastic performance, against the odds, by ten brave men - a performance that leaves West Ham five points clear at the top of the Championship.

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by Chris
12:33PM 6th Feb 2012
''I agree with the fact Faubert fouled David Forde in the lead up to the winning goal, but Mike Jones's decision sums up the real reason why fans get so frustrated with referees.

Earlier in the game, the referee had found in favour of Forde after he was put under pressure during a corner kick, something which we see all the time with the 'keeper given the benefit of the doubt if they make any mistakes. Then, when the goalkeeper is actually blatantly fouled the referee allows the goal to stand.

Obviously I am happy that it did as it gave as the winning goal, but it's just this inconsistency in applying the rules that will eventually cause a decision to go against us in another game.''

by J-Mo
12:06PM 5th Feb 2012
''All things considered this was a great result in the end, to go a man down so early in the game and still grind out the win (which could have been more comfortable had Faubert brought his shooting boots) on a day when the teams below us all struggled.

The ref was terrible and missed at least one sending off for them but I honestly think that was playing on his mind when he allowed our winner to stand, so will let him off for that! ''

by gportugal
09:12PM 4th Feb 2012
''Best performance of season. Says a lot that it happened without Nolan. You're right - the referee was appalling.''

by 50pence
05:09PM 4th Feb 2012
''Easy-peasy for ten man West Ham! We'd NEVER have won that in the past. Tactics were spot on and it was great to see Cole and Reid on the scoresheet.

"No one likes you, no one likes you, you are Millwall and you're cr@p!"''

by Mike
04:51PM 4th Feb 2012
''A sweet victory. Not because it was Millwall; unlike many Hammers' fans, I am utterly indifferent to the Lions, my rivalry lies with Spurs; but because it was a perfect answer to Tuesday's no-show, and all the better for being a near perfect performance from the eleven.

Eleven? Well, yes! Nolan displaying his usual idiocy got himself sent off. That's fine, as far as I'm concerned, because not even BFS can pick Teacher's Pet, if Teacher's Pet has got himself stupidly suspended. A player not fit to pull on the claret & blue, in my opinion. As for the other 10, did we really only have 10 on the pitch? It didn't look like it.

Millwall are, admittedly, a limited side, but they are industrious. Yet you would hardly have known the Irons were playing with only 10 men for 80+ minutes. It's only a pity that commitment was lacking on Tuesday. Apart from Faye's silly error that gave Millwall their equaliser, it was an excellent performance.

Special mentions must go to Faubert & Tomkins. I was delighted with the well-merited ovation that Julian received when he was substituted. Another player of whom Zola might have said "It's like there are two of him on the pitch". He never stopped working, and a super performance was capped with a a gorgeously delicate header, that deserved to find the net instead of the crossbar, and the endless work that created the chance for that belting winner from Reid.

Is Tomkins the new Billy Bonds? Pushed forward from central defence, he broke up just about everything that the opposition tried to create, and still found time to cover the occasional error in the back four. You can go to bigger clubs (sadly, yes, they do exist!) and win medals, but you can't buy the adulation and reverence that has been won by the likes of Moore, Bonds, and Brooking. One hopes that our very own Mr T will stay at Upton Park for many years to come. You could build a team around him & Noble. We can but hope!

I've only one quibble about the match report - I think you're being unfair on the ref. There's no doubt that Nolan's challenge, in this day and age, deserved the red card that it got (let's remember, he got away with a yellow for a much nastier one a few matches back). As for the winner, I confess on first sight I couldn't see how a foul wasn't given on Forde. But watch it again on the replays - you'll see that Julian, who had every right to be going for the ball, took one quick glance, then immediately pulled up and ducked out of the challenge when he realised he wasn't quite going to be quick enough. I think that's what the ref saw, and bravely decided there was no foul. Forde made a hash of things, and don't we all complain that keepers receive too much protection these days?''

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