Coca Cola Championship
West Ham United 1 Burnley 0

Saturday, 28th August 2004
by East Stand Martin

A big roar broke out as I was approaching the East Stand. It was the Burnley fans watching the in-stadium televisions and celebrating a last minute goal from Alan Smith against Blackburn. As it turned out, this was one of the more exciting moments in the Boleyn Ground today.

Although I had vowed to boycott the pre-match coffee since its inflation-busting rise to £1.30, the lack of queue was too much to resist. The second year in the lower league has had a big impact on the unglamourous part of our ground, and the lower attendances – today it was barely above 22,000 – leaves us rattling around in acres of space. I swore I saw a tumbleweed blowing down the East Stand upper concourse on the way to the toilet at half time.

A must win game

The match was one of those that we have to win if we are to emerge from these dark days. However, Burnley had made a reasonable start to the season and were yet to be defeated.

The West Ham team that turned out was pretty much as expected and was exactly the same as had started at Crewe the week before. The only real change was on the bench, with the return of Steve Lomas. Although he’s often criticised by the fans, I’m always pleased to see Stevie involved. It’s probably 50% because he is one of those who have remained amongst the carnage of player sales and 50% because he wears his heart on his sleeve, if you’ll forgive a classic football cliché.

In the opening exchanges, the first player to show was Tomas Repka, who did some effective tidying up at the back on three occasions within the first three minutes. The start was very scrappy though, and a sure sign of that was reinforced by a couple of rousing choruses of “Stand up if you want Brown out” from the Centenary Lower. Maybe this was fitting as next Tuesday marks 100 years of football at Boleyn Ground.

Burnley start brighter

Burnley undoubtedly got the better of us in the first ten minutes. On 8 minutes, a dangerous ball was sent over from the right and Hayden Mullins was forced to head the ball over the bar. Two minutes later, Chadwick handled the ball in a central position and the free kick from Robbie Blake just went wide of the left hand post, with Bywater rooted to the ground. Another Burnley opportunity followed on 12 minutes after the ball was gathered from the clearance of a West Ham corner. Luckily the finish was poor. Adam Nowland then gave Burnley another chance two minutes later after he committed a foul, but Bywater held the cross well from the free kick.

With a quarter of an hour gone, I noticed a very agitated Pardew on the touchline. He was gesticulating at Bywater to get the ball out quicker in an attempt to inject some urgency and pace into the West Ham game. This was not the only problem with our play, though. In a re-run of the Wigan performance, the quality of passing was poor yet again. Anton was one of the guilty parties when he made a terrible pass out of defence to a Wigan player on 16 minutes and then again eight minutes later when he punted an aimless overhit pass forward.

Hayden Mullins did not want to be outdone by Anton on 27 minutes when he wasted the opportunity of a ball out wide to Chadwick and made a hopeless pass through the middle instead. Only Tomas seemed to have half an inkling about passing out of defence, and a decent ball to Teddy resulted in a good flick on which Chadwick very nearly latched on to after 29 minutes.

Matty out of colour

A minute later Matty went on his first run of the game. He has looked pretty out of sorts so far this season and appears to be lacking pace. It’s pretty much like the beginning of last season when he started slowly and was receiving quite a lot of grief from certain sections of the West Ham support. Matty’s run ended with the ball luckily ending up centrally where Nowland picked it up and put in a shot which went harmlessly wide.

On 34 minutes, Burnley won a corner after Rufus gave the ball away from a West Ham throw in. The ball was not cleared properly from the set piece allowing a dangerous shot on goal from Richard Chaplow which just whistled by Bywater’s upright.

Nowland shines

A minute later finally saw the first West Ham shot on goal. Teddy showed more of his quality with a fine slanted pass to pick up Nowland running in on goal. His shot was unfortunately straight at Burnley keeper Danny Coyne. Nowland also featured on 36 minutes when he made a good pass to Teddy who got in a decent shot low to Coyne’s right, but he tipped it away.

Both Rufus and then Anton got skinned by the Burnley right winger Ian Moore on 39 minutes, who put in an excellent cross which bounced along the line of the 6 yard box. Fortunately there was no Burnley boot available to meet it for a tap in.

A minute later Reo-Coker then made one of his classic penetrating runs on goal which he spoilt by poor finishing, failing to hit the target. If Nigel could improve this part of his game, then he really would be a force with which to reckon.

On 42 minutes, Nowland showed that the loss of Michael Carrick does not mean that we do not have any classy crossfield playmakers left in our squad, when he found Matty out wide with a great ball over the top. Matty fired in a quality cross but no-one could get on the end of it. Matty then had a half chance a minute later when a ball was sent over to him in the left side of the box. His volley was screwed badly wide.

The final action of the first half nearly resulted in a Burnley goal. It would have been hardly merited, but we had created a paucity of decent chances as well. We all held our breath as a volley by Micah Hyde from the right looked like it was looping in to the top right hand corner.

Damp squib

This was another uninspiring first half performance from West Ham at home. It was a damp squib. With two wingers, we hardly created any opportunities down either flank, in stark contrast to the play at Crewe seven days before. Passing out of defence was poor, and combined with the lack of width, meant very poor service to our strikers who hardly had a look in. The long ball was also creeping in again, and delivering nothing.

My humour was not helped at half time as I learnt that three separate ex-Irons had netted in the Premiership: Sinclair, Defoe and Lampard. We all know that we have to move on from what we once had and that we cannot look back if we are to move forward. The problem is that this is easier said than done.

No change at half time

There were no changes in either side at half time, and the quality of the football did not change in the opening minutes. Marlon managed to find some space in the first minute but his cross was very poor. Then three minutes later, Mullins made yet another poor pass and then allowed himself to get mugged as he let the ball bounce in front of him. We were fortunate to see the Burnley attack break down.

On 51 minutes, Marlon nearly stole in and scored after there was a mix-up at in the Burnley defence. Coyne beat Marlon to it and his clearance hit the advancing striker, rebounding wide.

Four minutes later Teddy chipped over an inch-perfect cross to find the unmarked Matty in the box. To prove it wasn’t going to be his day, the winger failed to control the ball on his chest and just knocked it out of play. A minute later, Matty failed again as Marlon won a ball in the centre and made a good pass to him as he was running in on goal. Matty’s first touch was horrible and he just knocked it forward to the Burnley defender.

Lomas rallies

On 58 minutes, Steve Lomas came on to replace Chadwick, who had hardly featured at all in the game. Some of the fans were unhappy about that change, but it looked the right one. Stevie certainly appeared to rally the team with his arrival.

Two minutes later, West Ham won a corner which was delivered dangerously from the right. Marlon rose well and made a good header on goal which somehow ended up being scrambled away in a packed goalmouth. In the immediate aftermath of this panic in the defence, Hayden sent over a poor cross to the far post. The clearing header came out to Nowland in a central position twenty yards out and he got a good strike on the ball. It hit the ground at speed and bounced high above the keeper into the net for his debut goal for the club.

We had raised our game in the second half, but this was hardly difficult given the lack of quality in the first half. We had barely justified the lead, but Nowland had deserved to score as he was certainly one of the better players on the pitch. Only given four starts since his transfer from Wimbledon and not rated by many fans, it was pleasing to see him show that he has the ability to pass creatively. We certainly need that quality and creativity with the departure of Carrick.

Steve Lomas then made a good pass on 64 minutes to Matty who made a much better run and goal and unleashed a powerful shot which the keeper could only parry. Unfortunately Marlon couldn’t get onto the rebound and score. Five minutes later Matty cut inside and got another shot in but the keeper saved it and Marlon was ruled offside.

On 75 minutes, Teddy had the ball in the back of the net with a header but he was ruled offside. He was none too impressed with that decision.

Burnley were largely unable to make any forward progress at all during this period and it was only West Ham who looked threatening coming forward. With nine minutes to go, Reo-Coker won the ball after some good industry down the left and he fed the ball to Nowland who was once again advancing on goal in a central position. Unfortunately, this time he couldn’t keep the ball down and blasted high and wide.

Game ends in farce

On 86 minutes, a spent-looking Teddy was replaced by Chris Cohen and nothing much more happened of note until the game ended in farce on the verge of the final whistle. After Marlon had been fouled with his back to goal, a fracas ensued which involved just about every player on the pitch. Marlon appeared to react to something that was said to him by the defender that fouled him. In the chaos, referee Robinson – who had a fussy game throughout – lost control and it ended up with all officials having a lengthy referee’s union meeting which went on for about 5 minutes. Clearly, the ref hadn’t got the slightest clue what had gone on, but it ended up with three bookings, including Marlon and Anton.

The free kick was then taken by Marlon who got a good shot on goal, which was held well down low and to his right by the keeper.

The controversy was not yet over though as Chris Cohen got red carded with seconds left after he made a very late two-footed tackle over the top just on the left hand corner of the box. Although it looked like this dismissal was merited, the ref had allowed the game to get out of control.

These three points were very important to the cause, but once again, the performance was hardly convincing. The hope is that if we can still win when not playing well, then this is a good sign for when we can actually really get our act together.

(Following player ratings by Gordon Thrower)

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Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater
Competent enough in his shot-stopping duties but his distribution was not at its best today. The quick throw out to Etherington is potentially a dangerous weapon but all too often the good idea was spoilt by inaccurate throwing.

Tomas Repka
Another good run out for Tomas who, by and large, kept it simple and wasn't afraid to find the upper tier of the West Stand when merited. Constantly chatting with Anton, he kept the youngster in check (or should that be Czech) when required. Strangely absent from the handbags that followed the McGreal-Harewood incident.

Rufus Brevett
A solid enough display from Rufus who was a bit lucky to escape sanction in the McGreal-Harewood when he steamed in like a man possessed.

Hayden Mullins
Another player whose passing was not at it's most accurate. Good interceptions were let down by wayward passes, though there was some improvement in the second half.

Anton Ferdinand
Looks a lot more happy in the centre of defence than at right back and you can see his confidence growing the more he plays there.

Adam Nowland
Continues to improve and is obviously benefiting from the increased confidence that an extended run in the midfield will bring. Deserved his goal for the hard work he put in.

Nigel Reo-Coker
Another one who is finding his feet this season as the result of regular first team action. I like the way he can bring the ball out from the deep with those powerful runs ?EUR" we saw another of these yesterday and if he can improve on his decision making at the end of those runs he has the potential to be a hell of a player.

Luke Chadwick
Not his best performance, he didn't really register on the radar against the club with whom he spent time on loan last season.

Matthew Etherington
Had a busy match but still not up to the standards he set last year. Caused his marker problems but didn't vary his approach enough in my opinion.

Teddy Sheringham
I wasn't keen on this signing to be honest ?EUR" not because of his past club associations but because I thought that it was another example of us bringing in a player who was past it. I was wrong. His intelligence stands out a mile in this division and he was again a class act all round in this match.

Marlon Harewood
Less of a goal threat than in the previous couple of games a fact that can be put down to a lack of service to the front two in general. Marlon nevertheless got through a lot of hard work and chasing that sometimes went un-noticed perhaps because of his languid running style. Certainly the Burnley back four knew they had been in a game ?EUR" especially McGreal!


Steve Lomas
(Replaced Chadwick, 59) Good to see him back. His introduction provided the lift that led to our best spell of the game and, ultimately the goal. Nice to see him pick up the armband after Teddy's substitution.

Chris Cohen
(Replaced Sheringham, 86) Came on for Sheringham and got an early bath following what apppeared to have been a rush of blood to the head following his challenge on Grant. Will now miss the away matches at Coventry and Sheffield United and the home match against Rotherham for his sins.

Jimmy Walker
Did not play.

Trent McClenahan
Did not play.

Sergei Rebrov
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Stephen Bywater, Tomas Repka, Rufus Brevett, Hayden Mullins, Anton Ferdinand, Adam Nowland, Nigel Reo-Coker, Luke Chadwick, Matthew Etherington, Teddy Sheringham, Marlon Harewood.

Goals: Adam Nowland 62                  .

Booked: Rufus Brevett 45 Anton Ferdinand 90 Marlon Harewood 90      .

Sent Off: Chris Cohen 90    .

Burnley: Coyne, McGreal, Sinclair, Camara, Chaplow, Branch, Grant, Hyde, Duff, Blake, Moore.

Subs not used: Jensen, O'Neill, Townsend, Pilkington.

Goals: .

Booked: Sinclair (15), Duff (90).

Sent off: None.

Referee: J.Robinson.

Attendance: 22,119.

Man of the Match: Adam Nowland.