FA Premiership
West Ham United 4 Blackburn Rovers 2

Saturday, 28th January 2006
by East Stand Martin

I just knew we had a good chance today in getting revenge against a Blackburn team that had Mike Riley on their side when we went up to Coronation Street just before Christmas.

You know why? Well, I visited KFC before the game with ESM Jnr and got given ?5.52 in change instead of ?2.52. Now that is what I call a blow against US imperialism, although ESM Jnr was less esoteric about it. "It's a sign. We are going to win the game", he said.

A quiet day out with Freddie

Oxford Fred turned up for this one, having met up for a pre-match Lancashire hot pot with some pals in Limehouse. Whatever possessed him to indulge in such blatantly northern cuisine escaped me, but he looked suitably refreshed to a degree that for one hallucinatory moment he swore he thought Poll was the ref. Most of the East Stand was grateful this was not the case, as Fred tends to foam at the mouth and bay like a hound when - to use Fred's word's - "that Chelscum c*nt" turns up to officiate at a West Ham game.

Tomless, with Marlon on the bench to make way for the returning Teddy, and Shaka in for the injured Carroll, the team lineup didn't look the strongest. This foreboding was not misplaced as 28 seconds in Blackburn took the lead. Konch looked like he got beaten a bit too easy by Stephen Reid who advanced and passed to Kuqi who put in a ball across the back line. No defender could get near it and there was Bentley waiting with the goal at his mercy.

Wake up call duly registered, West Ham tried to find a quick way back through a patient build up on 3 minutes. Mulins was lurking around the edge of the box and he managed to get a good shot away which Friedel did well to hold down low.

Matty, the familiar outlet down the left found some space on 7 minutes after a nice pass from Mullins. He put over a good cross but Friedel read it well and got there in front of Teddy.

Pay the f*cking bill

It was just after this that it was clear that all was not well in the Upton Park fuse box, as the lights went out in the East Stand. It seems that now Brown's pawned his caravan park to pay for Ashton, it looks like he's run out of change for the electricity meter. The lights spluttered on again just as Konch put over a terrific cross on 14 minutes which no-one got near.

Makeshift right back Christian Dailly arrived about a yard late in a tackle on 16 minutes which led to a yellow. A minute later we gave Blackburn far too much time and space down our right. Savage seemed to have an age to put his foot on the ball, look up and then put in a good cross which was met by a free header. Shaka did well to hold onto that one.

Dailly - who actually played well today - proved he was no slouch on 20 minutes as he made a Giggs-like run down the wing. He put over a dangerous cross which found the head of Zamora, but there was no power in it and Friedel took it easily.

A minute later and Matty got a real chance as a clearance ricochet bounced back towards the Blackburn goal. My money was on the Cornishman to latch onto it, but he seemed to be outwitted by Friedel who made a little dummy as he challenged. All Matty could do was toe poke it out of play.

Yossi Bishayoun

Konch and Matty combined well again on 26 minutes and yet another effective cross came over from Matty. Mulins ran in and got his head on it but he looped it over the crossbar. A minute later Yossi - who has had a new haircut which makes him the spitting image of Ian Bishop - went on a fantastic mazey run, beating about three Blackburn players. He reached the dead ball line and tried to jink the ball back, but hit a Blackburn defender on what looked like an arm. The Bobby Moore Lower went up as one for the penalty but referee Mr Atkinson was not interested.

On 31 minutes, Mr Atkinson took a different view after a ball was put into the box from a free kick. Even though it was close to us, it was not immediately obvious what the offence was, but it could only have been for a tug on Zamora by the Georgian central defender Zurab Khizanishvili.

Teddy stood up and decided to take a Paolo tribute penalty with a disguised chip. I am not an exponent of these rather self indulgent spot kicks, preferring the Ray Stewart/Julian Dicks netbuster approach, but the old master's trick worked.

Matty the Blackburn tormentor

Five minutes later and yet another West Ham comeback from a goal down was successfully pulled off as Zamora laid off a great ball from a central position to find Matty free just inside the box. He kept his nerve and slotted the ball home under the diving Friedel. It was his first goal since the opening game of the season against - you guessed it - Blackburn.

We were now in charge and another excellent exchange of passes between Konch and Matty on 38 minutes saw the winger deliver a ball which ended up at the feet of the advancing Dailly who got a not entirely convincing shot away which Friedel still did well to save to his left.

Matty was off again down the left on 42 minutes but Zamora was adjudged to have committed a foul going for the cross. Yossi hadn't heard the whistle as he had come steaming in and unleashed a rocket of a shot which Friedel saved.

A minute later, Zamora broke free centrally and should have taken on the shot. Unwisely he elected to try the pass out wide to Matty who was unable to return the favour.

Blackburn finished the half the strongest after they won three consecutive corners. One of these required Shaka to make a great save from a header.

We were all quite relieved to hear the whistle go for half time in the end and quite delighted to be leading after conceding such a soft early goal.

Z-man fires wide

The first real chance of the second half fell to Zamora on 52 minutes as Reo Coker won a tackle and passed the ball to him. He burst forward with good pace, but he rather wastefully shot wide of the left hand post.

A minute later, Savage, who looked suspiciously offside ran forward and sent over a dangerous looking ball which Dailly did well to head away.

The 56th minute saw the save of the match as Mokoena hit a fantastic 30 yard shot which Shaka managed to tip over. If that had gone in, the game might have taken an entirely different direction.

Goal from nowhere

Just as Blackburn seemed to getting into gear, we got a third goal from nowhere on 58 minutes. A move began with some good work in midfield by Reo Coker. The ball was sent forward to Teddy who made a lovely reverse pass to the rapidly advancing Konch. He fired in low cross into the six yard box with Yossi running in, but Khizanshivili slid in and put into his own net.

Mark Hughes reacted to this by a double change with Emerton and Johnson introduced to replace Bentley and Kuqi.

Five minutes after the substitutions, Blackburn clawed back the deficit to one goal again following a great one-two just outside the box. Lucas Neil hit a great curling shot which bent around the stranded Shaka and into the top left hand corner.

Out of the darkness into the light

Then the lights went out - literally - on 68 minutes. It was all rather surreal as the floodlights failed at the Booby Moore end but they stayed on at the Centenary end. For reasons best known to himself, the ref decided that the twilight zone of the West Ham half was still acceptable for play, although I have to say people around me had their doubts.

Marlon came on for Teddy on 70 minutes and with his first touch two minutes later he unleashed a great shot from just outside the box which was too hot to handle for Friedel who could only parry to the waiting Zamora who slotted home his first goal at the Boleyn Ground this season. It was deserved reward for an accomplished performance.

To be honest the game pretty much fizzled out after this with the lights slowly coming back on and a couple of further substitutions by Pardew - Katan for Zamora and Fletch for Yossi - to run the clock down.

Three games against Blackburn this season and we have seen 15 goals. Both home games were pretty convincing and the defeat away was a bit harsh. I think we all know who is the happiest tonight out of Mark Hughes and Alan Pardew. Who says we can't go all the way in the Cup? Another home draw would be nice on Monday but I'm now getting worried that I'll be in India when the 6th round is played. I'll have to cross that bridge if and when it comes. Anybody know any sports bars in Mumbai?

(Player ratings by Gordon Thrower)

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Player Ratings

Shaka Hislop
Early on when we were far from our best he seemed to be very reluctant to leave his line. However he pulled of three really good saves to keep us in the match at crucial moments.

Christian Dailly
Started of a little shakily, possibly not helped by the attitude of those who insisted on jeering his every move during the early exchanges. Happily he settled down and turned in a fine performance and it was noticeable that the applause at his efforts was drowning out the less content elements of the crowd.

Paul Konchesky
Hasn't been at his best of late and his part in the early goal suggested that this run of form might continue. Happily, like Dailly, he recovered from his start to put in a decent show.

Danny Gabbidon
Another fine effort. Best buy of the season in my opinion.

Anton Ferdinand
Another one who might be deemed culpable when backing off for the first goal. Played well after that.

Hayden Mullins
A typical Mullins performance. Came in. got his foot in, laid it off. Time and time again. Unfortunate to see Friedel save his early shot and his interception led to the fourth.

Nigel Reo-Coker
Took a while after the early shock to get into things but improved no end as the game wore on.

Matthew Etherington
Probably his best run out of the season. As his confidence grew during the match he became more and more adventurous - the goal gave him a big boost as well.

Yossi Benayoun
Some good touches from the freshly-shorn Israeli, whose ball into Zamora for the second goal was the very personification of intelligence. Worked hard off the ball as well.

Teddy Sheringham
Played a useful part in the team's link play throughout the match. Lovely penalty though I may have to up the blood pressure prescription if he's going to do that too many times this season.

Bobby Zamora
Outstanding run out for one of those who must be looking over his shoulder at the arrival of Ashton. Led the line excellently, set up Matty's goal, won the penalty for the first, and capped an all-round fine effort with his first home goal of the season.


Marlon Harewood
(Replaced Sheringham, 71) Looked like a man with a big point to prove during his 20 minute run out. Ashton may find it difficult to break into the side if he has his way.

Yaniv Katan
(Replaced Zamora, 78) Not really on for long enough to contribute to proceedings in a game that was effectively dead by time he got on.

Carl Fletcher
(Replaced Benayoun, 82) Fletch's introduction appeared to be more of an exercise in running the clock down than anything else - no real time to affect the result.

Stephen Bywater
Did not play.

Shaun Newton
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Shaka Hislop, Christian Dailly, Paul Konchesky, Danny Gabbidon, Anton Ferdinand, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Matthew Etherington, Yossi Benayoun, Teddy Sheringham, Bobby Zamora.

Goals: Teddy Sheringham 33 Matthew Etherington 37 Zura Khizanishvili og 59 Bobby Zamora 73            .

Booked: Christian Dailly 17          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Blackburn Rovers: Friedel; Neill, Todd, Khizanishvili, Gray; Mokoena, Reid, Savage, Pedersen; Bentley, Kuqi.

Subs not used: Enckleman, Nelsen.

Goals: Bentley (1), Neill (65).

Booked: None booked..

Sent off: None.

Referee: M. Atkinson.

Attendance: 23,700.

Man of the Match: Bobby Zamora.