Premier League
West Ham United 1 Burnley 0

Saturday, 2nd May 2015
by Gordon Thrower

This was strangely sort of entertaining in a 'not really for the purists' sort of way.

There was much to ponder pre-match on the day the club honoured the Boys of '65. Firstly there was the news that some idiots had burgled Ken Brown. There had been calls for information that would lead to Ken being reunited with his medals. Those responsible had better hope that certain people don't get involved otherwise we might be hearing for calls that would see them being reunited with their legs.

Then there was the tragic news that Rio Ferdinand's wife had succumbed to breast cancer. Suddenly his absence from the QPR side for much of this season makes a bit more sense. All our thoughts are with Rio and his family at this time.

Team news was that, although he had recovered from the back problem that had kept him out of the trip to QPR, Song's return had made it only as far as the bench. Reece Burke had impressed enough to retain his place alongside Collin in the back 4 whilst Amafitano was given a start: Team: Adrian, Jenkinson, Cresswell, Collins, Burke, Noble, Kouyate, Amalfitano, Downing, Nolan Valencia.

The first clear chance of the afternoon came our way early on as some nice interplay on the left saw Nolan, Amalfitanoo combine for Cresswell to put over a dangerous cross. Valencia seemed well placed and any sort of touch would have given us the lead but Valencia seemed to misjudge the pace and or bounce and the ball flashed across the face of the goal.

In similar vein up the other end Ings got behind the defence and drove either a cross or a shot across the face of goal but unsupported by a colleague the ball went out for a goal kick. Ex-Hammer Matty Taylor also put in a dangerous cross but Barnes. Who had got inbetween Collins and Burke, couldn't get his head on it.

Tayor's crosses were beginning to cause a worry and another on 17 minutes found Ings escaping the marking of Burke, the striker's header thankfully coming at too much of a stretch for him to keep it down. It was a chance that the visitors were soon to regret missing,

On 21 minutes Cresswell fed Valencia whose clever change of pace left his man for dead. There was a sigh of disappointment as Valencia checked back instead of using the space his turn had bought himself. However Kouyate had started a run from behind. Valencia fed, Kouyate's clever step-over deceived Duff who upended Kouyate to give away the spot-kick.

Sadly for the visitors the award of the penalty was about the only thing that ref Moss got right in the incident. In deciding whether or not there is denial of goalscoring opportunity ("DOGSO") referees are instructed to consider four criteria all beginning with "D". If an incident fails on just one of those criteria there should be no red card. Certainly there was no problem either with distance or direction to goal or distance to the ball. However, there were clearly enough covering defenders to put the idea of DOGSO into serious doubt.

Mistakes are one thing but this particular official has a long history of ignorance and/or forgetting of the laws of the game at key moments and it's fair to say that just about everyone in the ground was surprised to see him brandishing a red card for the foul. It's not even as if Moss could claim that he'd not given himself time to think - there was a long gap between the incident and the card. Yes, just for once we benefited from a crap decision but it doesn't make it right.

Noble put the penalty away just to remind us what a penalty actually was and to put us in the lead while we were all trying to work out what the red card had been for.

We should have doubled the lead shortly after. Jenkinson's clever ball down the line was matched by Downing's equally clever run behind the full back. Downing pulled the ball back behind the defence where Valencia had stalled his run to put in a first-tie shot from which Heaton pulled off a marvellous one-handed reaction save to turn the ball over the bar. The applause from the crowd was given in recognition as much for the quality of the save as for the move.

Heaton was in action once again as Nolan's nod-on found Amalfitano whose near-post drive was pushed over by the 'keeper. A comfortable height maybe but a decent save nevertheless.

The visitors' best chance of an equaliser in the half came just after the half hour when Barnes got up at a corner and headed goalwards. Adrian's sharp save was all the more noteworthy given that Taylor was shielding the 'keeper from the action and he must have seen it late.

Referee Moss seemed intent on proving just how laughable his appointment to the forthcoming Cup Final was by issuing two completely incomprehensible tallow cards in three minutes. Firstly Valencia collided with Ings with both players looking up in the air at the ball. A foul? Possibly. A yellow card? Never in a million years.

A few minutes later Noble challenged Arfield for the ball. Both players got a good full-blooded block on the ball. No foul either way. Well unless you happen to be Jon Moss who considered Noble to have somehow committed a yellow card offence. Watching the rerun of the match Tony Gale suggested that the referee had "lost the plot." I disagree. I don't believe he ever had the plot in the first place. Thankfully Trippier stuck the ball over the top from the resulting free-kick as Mr Moon's arrival was announced.

There was just time for Cresswell to try a speculative 35 yarder that didn't dip anywhere near enough to worry the 'keeper and that was about it or the half.

Half Time: West Ham United 1 Burnley 0

After the interval in which several members of the '65 Cup Winners Cup team were honoured on the pitch and in which everybody in our area of the ground seemed to have turned up with the complete annual output of a Kit Kat factory we recommenced proceedings.

We started getting the ball wider quicker and Nolan just failed to convert Jenkinson's low cross at the near post. Burnley responded by nearly catching us out on the break as an out of position Cresswell was given the slip by Ings. However, the striker showed exactly why his lean spell is now approaching ten games with a near post finish that was tame and which would have been comfortably saved by Adrian had it been on target, which it wasn't.

Burnley had more cause to be angry with Moss as Jenkinson's - admittedly accidental - clip sent Ings to the floor but expecting competency from such an official would have been optimistic in the extreme. After all he's never shown much indication of having a clue throughout his career why would anyone expect him to start doing so now?

We should have added to the lead on 56 minutes. An Adrian free-kick found its way through to Nolan whose clever little ball found Amalfitano whose ought to have curled his shot inside rather than outside the far post.

Whilst we were dominating there was always that nagging feeling that the missed chances might cost us and shortly after Amalfitano's miss the point was emphasised by Adrian's save from Taylor in the box. The 'keeper saved with his feet and the ball seemed from our angle to come back off the pot, though later viewing suggested that it had just spun away. Thankfully that was to be the last scare of any significance.

Jenkinson got wide and his cross found Amalfitano whose backheel found Cresswell. The full-back's cross found Nolan who hit it straight at Heaton, Valencia's effort o the rebound was deflected or a corner so Moss gave a goal-kick. Ovbiously.

Moss's decision making was reaching farcial proportions and the booking of Downing for diving when hurdling Mee's late challenge was, in a league that contains Liverpool, quite simply an insult to the intelligence of everyone who had paid to watch the match. The only possible appeal against a yellow card for the club would be for mistaken identity. Perhaps an appeal could be lodged on the grounds that Moss had mistaken Downing for Steve Gerrard?

Well we'd had one "blue moon" moment with the award of a penalty in our favour so it was time for another. We brought Nene on. Yes Nene. You know. Brazilian lad. Arrived as a free agent in February. Yup him. He came on for Nolan on 78 minutes. Shortly after for the visitors Taylor was replaced by Wallace, a substitution notable only for the generous applause given to the ex-Hammer in recognition of past services.

The merry-go-round was complete a few minutes later with the arrival of Cole for Valencia and Cole ought to have scored with his first touch. Amalfitano fed Downing who sent over a teasing cross with the outside of his boot, Cole's header sailing harmlessly over the top when it ought to have gone down and in.

Nene then got pulled back as he broke out of midfield and fed Cole in promising position but Cole ran into traffic and ended up going nowhere. When the ball finally went out Moss got something right for once and cautioned Wallace for the tug back on Nene.

We continued to press for a second Downing fed Cole whose powerful drive was saved, inevitably, by Heaton. Downing's first time shot from the rebound was blocked by a defender before Nene's teasing far post cross towards Cole was headed out for a corner. From the resulting corner from Nene Collins had peeled off the back. His initial header was blocked and Ginge got under the follow up shot which went over the top.

Cole and Nene combined well again and Nene's dangerous ball into the box was cleared for a corner which was taken short to Nene. The Brazilian's cross was parried out to Kouyate whose first time effort had Heaton beaten for once, only for Shackell to head clear just in front of the goal line.

In stoppage time Mee finally picked up a 30 minute late yellow for downing Downing and Nene fashioned some space for himself pulling yet another fine save out of Heaton with what turned out to be the last kick of the game as Moss called for time.

Full Time: West Ham United 1 Burnley 0

A bit more luck in front of goal (or a little less Heaton) would have seen us leave with a slightly more realistic scoreline but it made a pleasant change for us to dominate proceedings so much. The caveat being that by not scoring as many as we ought to it would only have taken Burnley to have converted one of the few chances they created.

Sadly Burnley look likely to go down - I say sadly as there are a number of teams down there who I'd rather see go down. However, their problems seem to stem from a lack of quality up front - a legacy of not having tuppence hapenny to rub together I guess.

As for the referee, well I'm afraid that that's the kind of unacceptable quality you will end up with if you continue to let them decide how good they are for themselves. I'm almost hoping that Moss performs to his usual low standard in the Cup Final - if the FA see their showcase ruined by incompetency it might just provoke them into doing something to improve matters. Like asking Mike Riley why he feels able to defend the rubbish we are fed week after week.

Meanwhile Allardyce away to old club Newcastle at the end of the season is looking a bit juicy isn't it..?

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Player Ratings

Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
It would not be right to say that we'd have lost were it not for... I'm sure Jussi would have done equally as well. But the man between the sticks has to stay alert through dullish periods, and do his job when the time comes. Adrian did. And he saved the penalty and so nearly got to the rebound. Dammit!

Carl Jenkinson
Got forward well on numerous occasions.

Aaron Cresswell
Not quite as prominent as Jenkinson in the attacking stakes but still contributed well.

Reece Burke
Decent home league debut. Lost his man a couple of times but was sensible enough to keep it simple. Won't let anyone down if we need him to play all the way through to the end of the season.

James Collins
As the boss (whose seat is a little closer to the action than mine is) pointed out he spent the whole match talking to young Burke. Solid defensively.

Morgan Amalfitano
Another who had some bright spells - in his case married to a lot of hard work off the ball.

Cheikhou Kouyate
Good showing. Is it me or does he come out of his shell more when Song isn't there? Ok it's probably me but he gets my MOTM anyway.

Mark Noble
Lot of hard work in the engine room and did well to remember what a penalty was when the time came. Mark if the ref ever explains that booking to you could you let us know? I could do with a laugh.

Stewart Downing
Good in spells - some nice crosses but did drift in and out of the game. Another victim of refereeing incompetence.

Kevin Nolan
A few nice touches and a fair bit of off ball running but his ability to influence matches is not what it was.

Enner Valencia
Again some good moments but these became fewer and further between as the game progressed.


(Replaced Nolan) A lively little cameo that suggests he might be worth more of a runout sometime?

Carlton Cole
(Replaced Valencia) Caused problems but ought to have added to his goals tally against a side against whom he has a decent record.

Jussi Jaaskelainen
Did not play.

Joey O Brien
Did not play.

Reece Oxford
Did not play.

Alex Song
Did not play.

Matt Jarvis
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Reece Burke, James Collins, Morgan Amalfitano, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Stewart Downing, Kevin Nolan, Enner Valencia.

Goals: Mark Noble 24                  .

Booked: Enner Valencia 41 Mark Noble 44 Stewart Downing 60      .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Ben Mee, Jason Shackell, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, George Boyd (Michael Keane 46), Matthew Taylor (Ross Wallace 81), Scott Arfield, David Jones, Ashley Barnes (Marvin Sordell 79), Danny Ings.

Subs not used: Matthew Gilks, Steven Reid, Michael Kightly, Lukas Jutkiewicz.

Goals: n/a.

Booked: n/a.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Jonathan Moss.

Attendance: 34,946.

Man of the Match: Cheikhou Kouyate.