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West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 0
Monday, 14th September 2015
Would the secretary please note that Mr Hyde has left the stadium.
Pre-match for this one was spent in the company with my Geordie pals as usual. Traditionally we indulge in what I suppose one might call "one-downmanship" - neither of us usually think our side is going to win. However, despite the recent disparity between our home and away form I was forced to admit to a most uncharacteristic pre-match mood.
Maybe it was the buzz from the Anfield win (silly grin still in place), maybe it was the excellent transfer window or maybe it was the indifferent form displayed to date by the visitors that affected my state of mind. I believe that the mood is referred to as "optimism".
Team news was that only one of the new boys was given a starting debut, with Moses given the nod over Obiang, lending a more attacking air to the midfield. Bilic resisted the temptation to bring Jenkinson back into the starting XI, allowing Tomkins to continue at right back, a position in which he's actually done quite well so far this season. Oh, and there was some guy called Carroll on the bench.
Randolph, Tomkins, Cresswell, Reid, Ogbonna, Noble, Kouyate, Payet, Moses, Lanzini, Sakho.
Well we didn't have to wait an awful long time for the optimism to be justified. Noble stole the ball from Wijnaldum and fed Sakho. Sakho backheeled a return to the skipper who had continued his run into the box. Cutting in on to his right foot it looked as if a shot to the far post was being teed up but Noble instead elected to square the ball into the path of Payet who opened up his body and placed a sublime first-time shot into the top right corner.
Dave and his son Michael had missed the goal unfortunately (or I suppose if you're them, fortunately) having decided that 30 minutes was ample time to get from Whitechapel to his seat. It isn't, even on a non-rush hour day when the tubes are running well. On a day when there is disruption there is no chance. Anyway Dave, to summarise: great build-up, great finish, great goal.
Now here's a funny thing. Over 40 years of attending matches at the Boleyn (I won't quite make the 50 when we move) have taught me that going a goal up doesn't always lead on to greater things. However, this time, for the first time in I don't know how long, I was sure this was a lead onto which we would hold.
The visitors weren't presenting much in the way of attacking threat and our counter-attacking play was swift and incisive. Moses and Cresswell were combining nicely on the left and Moses' clever reverse pass saw Sissoko clearing for a corner, the uncontrolled nature of the clearance taking it a lot closer to Krull's goal than I suspect Sissoko might have been happy with.
If there had to be one spot of nit-picking it would be that we weren't as effective from corners as one might have wished. I'm all for inventiveness at set pieces but we were guilty of a number of occasions of taking short corners that didn't seem to have been given an awful lot of thought. The example on the quarter-hour was a case in point with Cresswell being grateful that Colback's intervention went out for a throw rather than setting Newcastle up for a breakaway.
Moses was causing all sorts of problems on the left. A sublime turn left Janmaat looking as bewildered as a Scouser confronted with a job application form and a biro. Moses' low cross found Sakho who got it tied up between his feet. A combination of Coloccini and Lanzini (which sounds like one of those cocktails people drink in James Bond films) saw the ball feed through to Payet who got on the wrong side of it slightly, pulling his shot wide.
Talking of unemployment brings me to Randolph who had had nothing much to do all match. The one shot that Newcastle had been able to muster in the opening quarter of an hour had been blocked on the edge of the box by Tomkins.
However, the 'keeper had to be awake on 20 minutes as Janmaat went down a run on our left, a couple of pinball ricochets seeing him through one on one with Randolph, who had kept himself alert during the long spells of non-involvement and blocked Janmatt's shot which, possibly as a result of the somewhat fortuitous route the ball had taken to get into the box, lacked anything that you might remotely describe as "conviction". Wijnaldum got on the end of a Sissoko pull back a few minutes later only to give the good people at the back of the Bobby Moore some catching practice.
Meanwhile, Payet was continuing to impress, some of his trademark footwork bewildering his marker and enabling him to set up Lanzini whose shot gave the good people at the back of the Sir Trevor some catching practice, lest they feel left out of proceedings.
The game's first yellow came on the half-hour. Kouyate's break out from defence was cynically brought to a halt by Colback, the caution proving that even someone as stupid as Anthony Taylor can get the odd decision right on occasion. There again a broken clock still tells the correct time twice a day. Unless it's digital and using the 24 hour clock method of course. As if to prove the analogy Talyor then proceeded to ignore Anita's subsequent foul on Payet.
The one down side of the half was the injury to Ogbonns shortly before half time. A hamstring pull was diagnosed as the defender gave away a corner and Bilic elected to bring on Jenkinson, moving Tomkins over into his more familiar central defensive role. The corner was cleared to Moses who fed Lanzini who, in turn, fed Payet. Payet carried the ball forward and played in Moses who slightly got caught between two feet, pulling his shot wide. Good break though.
Payet was also involved just before the break, keeping an over-hit cross alive and playing the ball back into the box. Noble's attempted volley was as ambitious as it was wayward (i.e. a lot) and more catching practice was delivered to the away section of support.
Half time West Ham United 1 Newcastle United 0
The interval saw the "Boys Of '86" introduced to the crowd - particularly good to see Phil Pwrkes out there after his recent health issues. Little mention was made on the pitch at that point of the corresponding fixture that season - though Dave and I reminisced over the legendary drinking session that had taken place post-match. I vaguely recall a lock in at a pub near a hospital that had been full of nurses but to this day neither Dave nor I can remember who had given me a lift home when I finally decided to call it a day at 4:30am.
Meanwhile your infinitely-more sober correspondent of these days settled himself down to the matter of the second half. Like the first we started off well and the lead was doubled within three minutes of the restart.
Newcastle won a free-kick on our left and 30 seconds later we were two up. Kouyate's header from the box fell nicely for moses who outpowered, outpaced and, ultimately, outthought the two defenders who were desperately trying to keep up with him. feigning a shot, Moses cut onto his rigt foot before curling a powerful shot that beat Krul, but not the bar. The ball came out at an awkward height for Payet who, nevertheless, finished the rebound first time to cue celebrations all round.
The terrace wit of old came to the fore, with the visiting support informed that their team might be joining the current Premier League champions in relegation at the end of the season. There was also a bit of banter with Ginge warming up and being told that he isn't ginger anymore. His response - to check down the front of his shorts to confirm the actual position - was amusing, as long as no jobsworth from the FA saw it.
Yellow no.2 came on 55 minutes, Janmaat left his foot in slightly late on Kouyate. However the incident was notable to these eyes for slightly different reasons. The foul occurred as Kouyate was mopping up a Newcastle breakaway as one of our (short) corners had broken down. It was noticeable that as Newcastle moved forward there was a swarm of claret and blue all busting a gut to get back so that by the time Kouyate made his clearance there were no fewer than 8 players in defensive covering positions. There was hard work going on in there as well as all the pleasing to the eye stuff.
A couple of minutes shy of the hour we made our second change of the evening. The hard working if unspectacular Lanzini was replaced by Obiang. The visitors made their own changes shortly after. Anita was finally relieved of the task of trying to keep tabs on Payet who would probably have even lost his marker during the post-match handshake. The "vaguely reminiscent of Marco Boogers" form of DeJong came on as replacement. The much vaunted but very disappointing Thauvin was also replaced by Perez at the same time.
As the game moved towards its final quarter we had the rarity of a Newcastle shot as the ball worked a tortuous rout out wide to their right. Janmaat was the player over but his shot displayed a degree of optimism exceeding the reality of the position by one hellofa lot. Randolph got down well at his near post to turn the shot out for a corner from which nothing came, despite Obiang's untimely slip.
With 20 left a promising burst into the box from Noble was ended prematurely by Perez's trip, the foul coming only a matter of inches outside the box. Cresswell attempted a cheeky drive at the near post but the angle was against him and the ball fizzed past the post for a goal-kick. Moses and Jenkinson then combined on the right with Sakho not quite getting the header angle right on Jenkinson's driven cross.
The visitors best spell of the match came with about ten left to play, DeJong's off-target effort taking a deflection off Tomkins' rump to require a decent tip over from Randolph. But it all lacked a sense of self-belief from Newcastle and our counter attacking always looked the more likely to produce a goal.
Payet continued to pull the strings and after Sakho had won a corner his pull-back to the edge of the box found Reid lurking. The Kiwi's shot was partially blocked and Sakho tried to toe-poke the ball home only to find Krul well-placed to make the save.
With 4 left a promising Moses run was brought to an end by a block. That was to be Moses' last involvement in proceedings as Carroll came on for his first appearance since, well the phrase "since Moses was a lad" is one that comes to mind but I guess I'll have to steer clear of that one for a while.
Carroll's first involvement was to reintroduce himself to his former team-mate Krul, catching the 'keeper slightly from the free-kick that had resulted from the Block on Moses.
Taylor added a slightly stingy three minutes of stoppage before what turned out to be a win as comfortable as my favourite pair of trainers was complete.
Full Time: West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 0
The post-match cocktails (I'll have a Lanzini, shaken not stirred please) were spent with Dave and pals bemoaning that their team had been "woeful" (there were a few qualifying adjectives placed in front of the word "woeful" as well but you get the drift). That was indeed true - Newcastle had all the air of a team that might have been playing to a plan if only any of them could have remembered what that plan had been in the first place.
However, the paucity of opposition shouldn't be allowed to detract from what was a decent performance - we seem to be getting stronger in defence and the talent available to us sees us attacking with a pace and intelligence that is becoming increasingly good to watch.
The fact that the likes of Souness moan that they have no idea what the "West Ham Way" is says more about how thick they are than anything about our club and, whilst it may be a bit early for our match announcer to be making on-air comments about the "boys of 2016" there's certainly good reason for supporters to be looking to the future with something less than the usual apprehension.
I believe it's called "optimism"!
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Well I'll admit concern when Adrian's disgraceful ban was upheld by the money grabbing charlatans at the FA (no offence Greg mate!). My worry was based on what I'd seen of Randolph in close season. However, when required he has not been found wanting and has proven a worthy replacement even if he's not been overly taxed in his last two matches.
Looked quite comfortable at right back. I was a bit concerned that the enforced move across to the centre might disrupt his concentration. That concern proved to be misplaced.
Another good runout. The combination with Moses on that side looks interesting as well.
Just looks better and better to me with each passing match.
Was doing ok before his hamstring gave out.
Wile-E is rapidly becoming one of my favourite players in this side. The amount of hard work he gets through is breathtaking.
Mixed some excellent moments with the odd casual/sloppy pass but overall had a good match.
A fine debut which only the crossbar prevented him from capping with a goal. His pace and power will cause better teams than Newcastle problems. Tired towards the end but having spent so much time figuring only as an entry on the asset side of Chelsea's balance sheet he will only get fitter with more time on the pitch.
A quieter game for him this evening - thugh he wasn't shy of putting in what I believe we are supposed to refer to as "a shift".
Dear Sky. What is the point in me writing about how rubbish he is every week to keep other clubs off the scent if you go and televise our matches and show how bloody good he is? Apart from the excellent goals, the passing, the link-up play and the unheralded donkey work in tracking back and helping to break down any opposition attacks, the MOTM did nothing worthy of note and I'd certainly look elsewhere if I were French manager Didier Deschamps.
Another hard-working performance in which he held the ball up superbly and did well bringing others into the game.
(Replaced Ogbonna) Much better - not given much of a test defensively admittedly but wasn't afraid to get forward when the occasion demanded.
(Replaced Lanzini) Did that disrupting and laying off role as well as we are beginning to expect from him in his time on the pitch.
(Replaced Sakho) Not really on for long enough to register bit it was good to see him back nevertheless.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
West Ham United:
Darren Randolph, James Tomkins, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Victor Moses, Manuel Lanzini, Dimitri Payet, Diafra Sakho.
Dimitri Payet 9 Dimitri Payet 48 .
Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Jack Colback, Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Sissoko, Vurnon Anita, Papiss Cisse, Chancel Mbemba, Massadio Haidara, Florian Thauvin, Daryl Janmaat.
Subs not used:
Karl Darlow, Yoan Gouffran, Gabriel Obertan, Jamaal Lascelles.
Jack Colback, Daryl Janmaat.
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