FA Premiership
Derby County 0 West Ham United 5

Saturday, 10th November 2007
by East Stand Martin

Unlike most followers of the claret and blue, the game at Derby is a massive one for me due to the fact that ESM Junior and I have five mates who are big Rams fans. The windups start early and we turned up Friday night in the East Midlands to give it large over some unnecessary amounts of Chinese nosh.

Despite the diabolical start by Derby back in the Premiership, you just had this little niggling worry that they had half a chance given the treatment table woes of the Hammers. Have you ever known such a list of crocks? We ought to be signing more backroom staff to keep on top of it.

Confidence was not heightened on arrival at Pride Park (or the 'Rubbish Tip', as I call it) when the West Ham line-up was announced. The defence looked solid enough with the back four of Linda-Gabbs-Upson-Neill, but you did worry the midfield 5 of Matty-Boa-Spector-Bowyer-Nobby might not be up to scratch. Carlton Cole, the form player was on his own up front with Wright, Freddie, Pants, Camara and Ginge on the sidelines.

Street Party

As I have already promised, I will be throwing the biggest f*cking street party north London has ever seen if Ramar*e's sewer rats take the drop, and the travelling Irons suggested that Derby were indeed going down with the T*ttenham. Whilst we are on the subject of that shower of diarrhoea, I wish to make it crystal to the owner of our club that any ground share with the lillysh*te scum will lead to the spontaneous erection of street barricades. No expansive acne-ridden Spud ar*e is ever going to park itself on my seat. Fact.

Back to Pride Park, and only a minute in, West Ham's most consistent player, George McCartney looked like he was about to join the expansive and expensive injury list after he took a crunching tackle in the ankle. The game was stopped as he was strapped up like an Egyptian mummy.
The first real chance came to West Ham on five minutes as stand in central midfielder Spector burst through the middle after good work by Solano and Boa. However, the American looked scared to shoot as he advanced goalwards and the move broke down.

Derby began to see a little more of the ball and a nervy clearance by Gabbidon on 9 minutes allowed a ball to be put in over the top to the far post but it was overhit. The West Ham-linked Barnes also made a threatening run through the centre of midfield a minute later, but he fluffed a simple pass.

Linda Lost

McCartney took another hard tackle on 13 minutes and he limped off to be replaced by Pants who swapped positions with Lucas Neill.

There was some promising movement around the Derby box on 17 minutes, but Boa hit a very average shot over Bywater's bar. Pants was pants in his early contributions and you wondered whether George had been an injury too far.

The best move of the half to date came on 19 minutes as a great ball forward was picked up by Boa. The nearest Derby defender slipped, allowing a shot to be hit which was blocked back to the waiting Cole whose first time effort hit the legs of the well-spread Bywater.

Matty had not received much service and he was taken out by an appalling tackle on 20 minutes which led to Oakley getting a yellow.

Pants was still pants on 23 minutes as he ran forward, made a diabolical pass and then got booked for a poor late tackle.

Nobby's Style, Pants is Pants

A minute before the half hour, Boa made a great run towards the edge of the Derby box and he won a free kick after he was fouled trying to slot a ball out right. Just 19 yards out, Nobby sent an exquisite shot over the wall, only to see the ball spank off the frame of the goal just where the upright meets the crossbar. Bywater was totally stranded.

There were some signs of a threat from Derby, but they continually squandered promising positions in the final third, usually with awful overhit passes. Pants was pants again on 38 minutes as he sliced an easy pass into touch. Just after this ex-Hammer Tyrone Mears ran forward rapidly, but ice-cool Aussie Lucas Neill was on hand to cut out his pass into the box.

Just when you thought that the teams would go in level at half time, an excellent array of exchanges between Nobby, Boa, Cole and finally Bowyer saw West Ham capture the lead with four minutes of ordinary time left. It was a delayed celebration amongst the away fans as there were some furious protests from the Derby players and it wasn't clear that the goal had been allowed. Bowyer seemed to have acres of space and time to clinically finish from inside the penalty area.

West Ham seemed to have learnt something from the previous game against Bolton and decided to run the clock down through possession to make it to the interval in the lead.

1977 is not that long ago

Half time and what glorious entertainment was on offer from the Pride Park DJ. An inspired mixture of Madness, The Undertones, The Jam and The Clash. OK, I admit that I am a middle-aged punk.

Derby had held their own for about half an hour but the threat in the final third was non-existent. You do wonder - and this was expressed somewhat forcibly by my mate Derby Mick after the game - why Billy Davies had set up 4-5-1 at home against a weakened opposition. With two strikers on the bench it looked as if they had started with the mentality that they could not win the game.

No sign, too, of any change in tactics from the home side at the start of the second half. Bywater did get a rousing round of applause as he took his place in the goal in front of the away support. Although he didn't know it, I was cheering him for the inspired faux pas of spelling out a rather rude word on live TV a few weeks earlier. Outstanding stuff.

Fatal Words Not So Fatal

Only a minute in and we should have made it 2-0 as Cole did very well to beat a defender to the ball and then Boa had an almost point blank shot saved from inside the six yard box. The resulting corner saw Upson make the goal vibrate and it was hard to see how someone couldn't have turned the ball in from the rebound. ESM Junior then uttered the fatal words "I hope we don't regret that later."

Hardly had he spoken, when up the other end Derby should have equalised as Miller had a free head at a cross lifted from the right hand side of the goal. Inexplicably, he nodded lamentably wide.

Thankfully, we were all celebrating again on 50 minutes as we got a vital early goal. Pants was not pants as he sent in a useful ball to feet in the box. Matty passed to Bowyer who returned the favour and the Cornishman smacked an unstoppable shot into the net. It was an excellent move.

The Nag Was Long Gone

The response from Billy Davies was at last to introduce a second striker in the shape of Howard on 51 minutes, but it all looked like trying to shut the stable door after the horse had bolted. This was underlined just a minute after this change as Matty made a great run down the left and sent over a wicked cross which just missed the head of Cole. The ball was cleared from almost under the crossbar and from the corner which followed the ball fell loose to Spector who fired in a low shot. It looked as it had been cleared off the line by Lewis but he seemed to fall on the ball and squeeze it out of his ar*e cheeks over the line.

This third goal sparked another too little too late move by Billy Davies as Lewis was replaced by Earnshaw to ironic cheers from the Derby fans.

Everything He Touches Turns To Sh*t

The reverse Midas touch of the Derby manager worked again as barely two minutes after the player swap, West Ham scored their fourth. This time it was a brilliant chest down by Cole who then got fed a pass on the right hand side of the box. His pass was ideal and Bowyer just cut through the middle unchallenged to slide the ball home.

4-0 and it was a party atmosphere with a succession of ol?s as West Ham made every pass. There was no way back for Derby who had collapsed into a shambles. Upson nearly made it five on 63 minutes but he was just beaten to a header at the far post following a 30-yard free kick. The coup de grace followed on 67 minutes after Boa won a free kick on the left hand side of the box. The set piece Peruvian maestro stepped up and he struck a superb shot into the right hand corner of the goal with Bywater a hopeless bystander.

At this point, I could not resist reminding Ryan the Jock that he had told me earlier that the game had "0-0 written all over it".

Eat Your Words And Your Curry

The ineffectual Miller was taken off on 74 minutes for Fagan, and the latter did make a good run and shot a couple of minutes later which Green held well down low. The rest of the half was really uneventful apart from Fagan fouling Matty and Neill and getting away with it. The match fizzled out with the travelling fans taunting Billy Davies with a chorus of "You're getting sacked in the morning". It took a time to get out and we saw a few West Ham players do their 'warm-down'. Limping along in slow motion was a spent Nobby Solano who had played a highly influential role in the game along with the tireless Carlton Cole. I now ask all those who were berating this player just a few weeks ago to send in their apologies c/o Chadwell Heath. You know who you are.

The reward for that convincing win was not only bragging rights, but a pre-arranged wager with the Derby boys saw yours truly and ESM Junior tucking into a free curry at the superb Anoki restaurant. This has just been rated by The Times as the 10th best Indian restaurant in the UK and I heartily recommend it. As I said to Derby Mick, "this curry is fantastic but it tastes even sweeter as you're paying for it."

It was a tremendous win by our ravaged team, but Derby were truly hopeless. The game that really matters comes next when those lillysh*te tossers visit the ground which they will only share over my dead body. It is payback time for that sickening injury time defeat last season. That still hurts to this day, but as I have said to many Spuds fans since, it was that defeat that ironically sparked our revival and escape to victory. Thanks very much, you tw*ts, for saving our bacon.

There was no consolation, however, the year before when we p*ssed on the Spuds' Champion's League bonfire and handed their place to their bitterest rivals. That game cost the evil empire millions. It was like Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star. We still have the upper hand, my friends, and don't ever forget it.

(Player ratings by Gordon Thrower)

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Player Ratings

Robert Green
Didn't put a foot wrong mainly due to the fact that, easy crosses apart, he had little to do. Probably had time to start a McClaren-out petition - and sign the first 10,000 signatures himself.

Lucas Neill
Another competent performance although he needed to be more clinical in forward positions.

George McCartney
Injured on two minutes, off by 14. Battled gamely in the intervening period before he joined the waiting list outside the treatment room.

Danny Gabbidon
Will take a lot of confidence from a decent run-out in which he easily snuffed out the early threat from the home side.

Matthew Upson
Strong at the back and was unlucky not to score when he probably caught Solano's corner a bit too well. Is it me or with that beard does he look like David Cross from a distance?

Jonathan Spector
If you have Spector playing the centre of your midfield you know you have injury problems. To his credit he did well and this was possibly his best performance in claret and blue to date. I'll give him the goal as well.

Lee Bowyer
A fine performance and his goals from runs from the deep were echoes of his heyday. A performance made even more remarkable following the revelation that he is yet another of the injured with the oh-so-in-fashion groin operation (this season's "metatarsal"?) due this week.

Nobby Solano
A class act. It's nice to see someone who can deliver a dead ball so well - not just the free-kicks but corners too. Now if we can get him out of the habit of needing a sighter first...!

Matthew Etherington
Got kicked early on with a rotten challenge from I think Oakley and he did go a bit quiet for a few minutes. However he stepped things up in the second half and thoroughly deserved his goal. Nice to see him enjoying the game a bit more this season.

Luis Boa Morte
Another who had a better match than of late. Denied a goal only by Bywater's legs in the second half though there were a couple of occasions when the odd pass went astray.

Carlton Cole
Superb. Being the only fit striker in the club has meant him operating as a lone striker out of necessity. This match saw how he has grown into the role in recent weeks. Another Bywater save denied him the goal that his movement and effort deserved.


John Paintsil
(replaced McCartney, 14) A bit of an unsteady start but as the Derby threat faded he was able to settle down a bit and push forward as evidence by his part in Etherington's goal.

James Collins
(replaced Bowyer, 72) On for a few minutes at the end. Good to see him a) play and b) not get injured in the few minutes he was on.

Richard Wright
Did not play.

Freddie Ljungberg
Did not play.

Henri Camara
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Robert Green, Lucas Neill, George McCartney, Danny Gabbidon, Matthew Upson, Jonathan Spector, Lee Bowyer, Nobby Solano, Matthew Etherington, Luis Boa Morte, Carlton Cole.

Goals: Lee Bowyer 42 Matthew Ethehrington 50 Jonathan Spector 54 Lee Bowyer 59 Nobby Solano 69          .

Booked: John Paintsil 24  0 34       .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Derby County: Bywater, Mears, Moore, Edworthy, Griffin, Oakley, Pearson, Teale, Barnes, Lewis, Miller.

Subs not used: Jones, McEveley.

Goals: .

Booked: Oakley (21), Fagan (89).

Sent off: None.

Referee: M.Clattenburg.

Attendance: 32,440.

Man of the Match: Lee Bowyer.