FA Premiership
West Ham United 1 West Bromwich Albion 0

Saturday, 5th November 2005
by Gordon Thrower

Remember when we used to always look good value at home? Well whisper it but itís getting to be quite like old times at the Boleyn. A Saturday kick-off at 3.00pm (ok 3.10pm due to traffic on the A13), a near as makes no difference full-house and even an appearance of the legendary Mr Moon all added to the somewhat retro atmosphere on the day.

The team news was that Roy Carroll was deemed to be at least another week away from recovery from his knee injury whilst Bobby Zamora's hamstring had healed up enough for him to take up his position on the bench leaving us with a starting line-up of Hislop, Repka, Konchesky, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Benayoun, Reo-Coker, Mullins, Etherington, Harewood, Sheringham.

We enjoyed the proverbial bright start to the game and Sheringham might have gained an early penalty when running on to a Harewood header from the back. It appeared that Young Edward might have been the recipient of a bit of a shove from (I think) Davies but the veteran probably made a bit too much of it to convince ref Walton who waved play on.

A few minutes later a Harewood shot was blocked and from the resulting corner Ferdinand's flicked header was only just wide, eluding Harewood at the far post in the process. It's fair to say that we had much the better of the early part of the match, though, as usual, this didn't necessarily mean that the opposition were without chances. Kamara got the better of Repka but selfishly chose to shoot into the side netting with Earnshaw better placed. Kamara then went on a jinking run through the middle only to shoot wide. Such moments were the exception rather than the rule. Young Edward lobbed harmlessly wide when put through from a deflected pass.

There then followed one of those comedy moments. A Yossi foul on our right led to a free-kick which saw an obviously-rehearsed evacuation of the penalty-box by the home defence. This left at least four Albion players a country mile offside, something conveniently ignored by the visiting support who celebrated Watson's resulting "goal" as if it had won the FA Cup.

Returning back to the real world we continued to press forward. Teddy fed a clever ball down what some of us still refer to as "the inside right" channel and Yossi's shot brought a good save out of Kuszczak in the Albion goal. The resulting corner saw a Teddy header falling to Mullins just a little bit too sharply and Mullins might have done a bit better with his volley which ballooned high into the crowd.

With 25 on the clock West Brom then missed what was probably their best opportunity of the match. Ferdinand allowed Earnshaw far too much time on the ball and the Welsh international had time to get a cross in towards the unmarked Kamara whose header, whilst not straight at Hislop, was placed sufficiently close to the 'keeper so as to make the save down to his left a fairly comfortable affair.
Ten minutes before the interval we really should have gone one up. Harewood burst down the right and hit a shot across Kuszczak that, whilst powerful, the keeper might feel he ought to have done better with. The ball came out to Teddy whose touch took him a little too wide of goal to make a shot much of an option. Sheringham pulled the ball back to Yossi who probably had a little too much time in front of goal and, excellent though the defender's clearance off the line was, Yossi really ought to have buried the thing. He didn't and an entertaining 45 came to a close with the scores level.

One of my companions where I sit had tempted fate earlier in the day by pointing out that so far this season we had been lucky with injuries. It was therefore sadly inevitable that Reo-Coker's ankle, which had required significant attention from the physio in the first half, would preclude his appearing in the second half. NRC's replacement was Christian Dailly.

With Football Genius playing a similar holding role to that performed by Mullins, our rhythm was disrupted somewhat and it was the visitors who had the first opportunity of the second half. Shortly after the Chicken Run-side lino had requested a replacement flag, presumably having broken the first one in attempting to follow the advice from the fans in that part of the ground, Watson hit a low shot that Shaka gathered at the second attempt, receiving a kick in the head from Kanu for his trouble.

Shaka was clearly shaken by the incident and his resulting free-kick barely made it over the half way line. The ball was played down towards Konchesky who, being unwilling to put the 'keeper under further pressure elected to clear his lines down the left hand touchline. This ball turned out to be a cracker, releasing as it did Harewood who bore down on goal before unleashing a powerful effort agonisingly into the side netting.

Then came the goal. We won a free-kick on the right hand touchline just inside the Albion half. Repka played a long diagonal ball into the box which Football Genius won in the air. Young Edward had cleverly bought himself a bit of space which his first touch only improved. His second touch was to put the ball inside the right hand post with a neat finish off the outside of his right boot. Whilst most of the players celebrated with Teddy the funniest sight was to be found in front of the dug-out where Repka and Pardew were hugging eacother as I, well, we'd won the FA Cup.

Shortly after the goal Shaka was substituted. Clearly still suffering the effects of having perpetrated a vicious assault on Kanu's boot using only his head as a weapon the 'keeper was replaced by Bywater whose first action was to hold on to a Wallwork shot low down.
For the closing period of the match Albion went back to basics, introducing Horsefield and Campbell to the proceedings - replacing Earnshaw and Kanu respectively. The football was as unsophisticated as the substitutions would suggest and the visitors' main tactic from that point was to launch an aerial assault. Thankfully the Gabbidon/Ferdinand partnership held firm. We picked up a couple of bookings during the latter stages. The one dished out to Dailly seemed harsh as he was clearly stretching for the ball and, from my angle anyway, it appeared that he'd actually got it. The yellow for Mullins late block was more clear cut however.
With four minutes to go Albion might have sneaked an equaliser. Walwork cleverly headed a Gabbidon clearance down to Kamara in space on the left of the box but the Albion man was a profligate as he had been throughout the rest of the match and he screwed his effort well wide and another three points were in the bag.
This was very much a living example of that old football clich? a game of two halves. The first 45 was full of flowing attacking football whilst the second period was one where we had to draw on what the pundits like to call "character". The one big worry was the injury to NRC who, were later informed, is rated highly doubtful for the forthcoming derby at Sp*rs and there is little doubt that the enforced half-time change disrupted the flow of the game as far as we were concerned. Time for the physios to earn their keep!

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Player Ratings

Shaka Hislop
Looked confident throughout up to the bang on the head. Looked groggy afterwards.

Tomas Repka
Apart from one early error when he dived in to let Kamara in, this was another fine home effort. Loved the celebration with Pardew for the goal!

Paul Konchesky
Yet another excellent run out for Konch. With a bit of luck he might have to miss out on the team's team bonding session in Spain due to being required by England in Geneva.

Danny Gabbidon
Nothing much seems to faze this guy. When the opposition plays the ball on the floor he's comfortable. When they throw it up in the air he's equally happy. Excellent match.

Anton Ferdinand
Like Repka he had one silly moment when he allowed Earnshaw to get a cross in. However he knuckled down after that and had another good match.

Hayden Mullins
Ran his legs off and performed that breaking up role in the middle superbly.

Nigel Reo-Coker
Was having a decent match until injury curtailed his afternoon. The way the match developed after he went spoke volumes for his influence.

Yossi Benayoun
Not as dominant as he can be he still played some nice touches and caused a few problems.

Teddy Sheringham
Well taken goal that, as ever, owed as much to Young Edward's speed of thought rather than his, er, legendary pace over the ground.

Matthew Etherington
A bright start but faded as the match wore on until disappearing from view in the second half.

Marlon Harewood
A lot of running but yet another frustrating afternoon in front of goal.


Christian Dailly
(Replaced Reo-Coker, 45) A fine performance in the middle - when we needed to get stuck in he was there and he played a major part in the goal.

Stephen Bywater
(Replaced Hislop, 60) We used to have a 'keeper called Bywater - this one looked a lot like him only this one can kick! Made a couple of useful saves when coming on for Hislop.

Shaun Newton
(Replaced Benayoun, 90) Given a few minutes at the end. Not really enough time to make an impression, though he may also have been confused by the fact that he had replaced Yossi rather than Etherington for once!

David Bellion
Did not play.

Bobby Zamora
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Shaka Hislop, Tomas Repka, Paul Konchesky, Danny Gabbidon, Anton Ferdinand, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Teddy Sheringham, Matthew Etherington, Marlon Harewood.

Goals: Teddy Sheringham 56                  .

Booked: Christian Dailly 88 Hayden Mullins 89        .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

West Bromwich Albion: Kuszczak, Albrechtsen, Wallwork, Davies, Clement, Watson, Greening, Inamoto, Earnshaw, Kamara, Kanu.

Subs not used: Hoult, Carter, Moore.

Goals: .

Booked: None booked..

Sent off: None.

Referee: U.Rennie.

Attendance: 34,325.

Man of the Match: Hayden Mullins.