Coca Cola Championship
Coventry City 2 West Ham United 1

Monday, 30th August 2004
by East Stand Martin

There’s something not quite right about an evening game on a Bank Holiday Monday. Apart from the fact that West Ham rarely perform well at such fixtures – and I’m thinking of that match away at Palace on Easter Monday last – this should be a time for getting your head together for a return to work.

Oxford Fred was engaging with the fifth pint of that final recuperation process when we picked him up en route to the game. Don’t worry, I promised, I know a pub in Coventry right next to the ground. Perhaps it was sign of things to come when we arrived to find that pub demolished and then not a drop of beer on sale inside Highfield Road. Fred was not at all amused, although I suspect that he’ll have a clearer head on the way into work as a result.

A test for the Irons

This was always going to be a testing game, after Coventry’s 4-1 away demolition of Forest on Saturday and our rather unconvincing performance against Burnley. Love him or hate him, you also know that Peter Reid can get his teams to perform.

Although I was expecting an unchanged team from Saturday, the surprise for me was that Pardew elected to give a start to Rebrov in place of Chadwick. Although Chadwick had a distinctly average game on Saturday, the insertion of the Ukrainian is always going to create system problems. So it proved, as what looked like a 4-4-1-1 setup began the match with Marlon back out on the right wing again. Nowland was also preferred over Lomas, although this had to be merited given Adam’s contribution on Saturday.

High tempo start

The game began at quite a high tempo, although rather scrappily. Teddy was nearly gifted a goal on 5 minutes after Coventry keeper Shearer kicked a clearance straight at him. More surprised than anything else, Teddy made a weak chip back to goal.

Two minutes later, Nowland showed once again that he has great vision with an excellent crossfield pass out to Marlon on the wing, but the move came to nothing. This was followed with another fine ball to Rebrov on 11 minutes who then found Teddy on the right. Once again, the move broke down.

A minute later, the Coventry fans were celebrating as Davenport met a free kick from the right and fired home past Bywater. This was disallowed for a foul, but did not stop the PA announcer (who sounded like Jack Duckworth off Coronation Street) from celebrating it. Incidentally, Davenport looks a fine central defender and I was not at all pleased to hear that he is on his way to Sp*rs, although Coventry may well rue the day that they parted with him.

Pot calling kettle black

While we’re on matters to do with Sh*te Hart Lane, I have to say I found the Hammers’ chants of “Yiddo” towards Tim Sherwood very unconvincing considering we have three ex-Sp*rs players in our team. I much preferred the rather hilarious rendition of “Has Wayne Rooney f*cked your mum?” although I’m not sure of the precise relevance of that to the West Midlands. I know the primate featured wunderkind has been putting it about recently, but does this extend to knocking shops in Coventry as well?

Marlon was doing his best out on the flank and on 16 minutes, he managed to rescue a ball down the right and get in a good cross, but there was no-one there to take advantage. Five minutes later, Bywater made a bad decision and came far too late to gather a ball. He was bypassed, but the Coventry player was forced wide at speed and the cross was headed to safety by Hayden.

Reo-Coker, who had been putting himself about in and around the centre circle then got booked on 22 minutes after kicking the ball away. This was a stupid move, and had the consequence of forcing him to play more cautiously for the rest of the match.

A minute later, Morrell, who looked threatening throughout the game, got a decent shot on goal. Marlon then made a strong run on 28 minutes, cutting into the box from the right after beating three defenders. He cracked in a low drive which the Coventry defence managed to kick away for a corner. Three minutes later, Hayden put in a good cross, but Shearer snatched it off the head of the advancing Matty.

On 33 minutes, Bywater got it wrong again as he got in a terrible tangle with Mullins. The ball ran free, but Staunton failed to capitalise. Matty was taken out by Carey on 38 minutes who received a warranted yellow card. He seemed OK after receiving treatment to his ankle.

Reo does it again

The individual move of the night then came on 42 minutes as Reo-Coker made a superb battling run across the right hand side of the Coventry box. He appeared to beat four defenders and then found Teddy waiting at the far post for a simple side foot into the net. To say that Nigel was ecstatic would be an understatement as he ran back like a man possessed to receive the plaudits of the excellent Irons travelling support.

Unfortunately the jubilation was only short-lived as Morrell was brought down in a very dangerous position just outside the box in a central position. It looked like Brevett clipped the Coventry player as he was going by him and was the last thing we needed on the stroke of half time. After receiving a booking for the offence, Doyle hit a terrific Beckham-like free kick which curled into the top right hand corner. It was an unstoppable shot at the worst possible time.

Double booking

The second half started with no changes to either side and the first event of note was the double booking of Teddy and Doyle for an off the ball incident on 48 minutes.

A minute later, a ball over the top of the West ham defence nearly let in Neil Wood, but Bywater made a good stop.

Four minutes later, Marlon picked up a loose ball and ran menacingly on goal. He let loose with a powerful low shot but this hit the keeper’s legs and bounced away harmlessly. Then Teddy made a great take in the box on 58 minutes, but his shot was blocked out for a corner.

Tactical changes

Pardew decided to make the change on the hour and replaced Nowland with Lomas. Reid responded five minutes later with a double change, bringing on the stocky frontman Suffo and Irish international Barrett.

Rebrov in yet another largely ineffectual game managed to get his head on a Matty cross on 66 minutes, but Shearer made a good save. This was Rebrov’s last contribution to the game as he was then replaced by Chadwick.

Luke almost made an instant impact following a move between Hayden and Lomas which resulted in a corner. The ball was headed across the goal to find Chadwick in the box, but he could not deal with the bounce of the ball with the goal at his mercy.

Not our night

Despite significant possession in the second half, this was not to be the Hammers’ night, and with 14 minutes left, the best move of the half resulted in a Coventry goal. Doyle had a say in this as he managed to exploit some space on the right side of West Ham’s central defence. His ball over was met brilliantly by a scissors kick by Morrell, leaving Bywater no chance.

The remaining time was largely played out with Coventry frustrating West Ham by retaining possession. Suffo was particularly effective in holding the ball up, using his strength to fend off tackles. Pardew tried one last roll of the dice by replacing Brevett with Garcia, but the need for urgency led to a number of wayward passes including two howlers from Lomas and Matty.

Chadwick had the last real chance to earn a draw – which would have probably been a fair result in this game – when Lomas got behind the Coventry defence. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the right connection on his volley and the shot was saved.

Lomas loses plot

Finally, for the second time in a row, a West Ham player saw red in second half injury time. It was difficult to see what happened as the incident was on the other side of the pitch, but Lomas looked like he got into a dispute over the precise location of a throw in. His dissent was pure frustration at the outcome of the game, but he should have known better, and I'm less inclined to forgive him than Cohen. This leaves Pardew with little option other than to play Nowland for the next three games.

Although we lost the game and Pardew’s post-match comments were pretty dismissive of the team’s performance, I reckon that there was some improvement compared to Burnley and Southend. Pardew may not see it that way, as he is clearly focused on points. Quite right too, but maybe we were due a defeat we probably didn’t deserve after two wins that were pretty unconvincing. It is always disappointing though when you take the lead in an away match and end up losing. The pressure is certainly mounting on the manager.

There were some plus points here – Reo-Coker in the first half (but it worries me that he is not turning in 90 minute performances), Repka looking solid (strangely controlled – has he been on an anger management course?) and Marlon looking dangerous. On the downside, Matty looks still far way below par, Hayden’s passing leaves much to be desired, Rebrov is still showing very little and Bywater is looking rather less assured.

(Following player comments by Fishbone)

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Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater
Collected a few good crosses and generally showed safe hands when dealing with shots. Only weakness was his distribution (yet again!!). Trouble with his kicking and threw away possession quite a few times.

Tomas Repka
Once again Tommy had a commanding game at the back and seems to be showing some good form. Radio on the way back said he had a poor game, but from where I was sitting he looked very good.

Rufus Brevett
Another disappointing game from 'the Roof'. Hasn't really got going this season and I still don't think he is match fit from the injury he had last season. Gave away the free kick for their first goal.

Hayden Mullins
Looked solid throughout and contributed to the attack well. Probably his best game so far this season. Unfortunately the second goal came from the (his) left wing.

Anton Ferdinand
Didn't really do much wrong. A few wayward passes though and still looks like the shoulder is hurting him.

Adam Nowland
Sat back in front of the defence and again ran his socks off. Some lovely long range passing but has trouble with the easy stuff. The goal on Saturday appears to have gone to his head as he had several attempts on goal from outside of the area that went well wide!

Nigel Reo-Coker
NRC is going to be a big talent for West Ham (and then whoever Brown sells him to). A good engine, and has lightening pace when he needs to. Battles hard and was brilliant for the goal. Definitely (hopefully) a future captain for the club. Silly booking for kicking the ball away was the only fault to his performance.

Sergei Rebrov
Showed some nice touches and won a few headers considering his main opponent, the Spurs-bound Davenport was about seven foot tall. Still looks a yard away from match fitness but will come good.

Matthew Etherington
Slow start to the season again for Matty. I think he is definitely being targeted by clubs as West Ham's main threat, as he seems to have someone shadowing him most of the game (and gets hacked down at any opportunity). Needs to be a little less predictable. Took set pieces well.

Teddy Sheringham
Wasn't as effective with his flick-on's due mainly to top defending by Davenport (who was awesome). Tap in for the goal but wasn't too effective overall; not one of his best games.

Marlon Harewood
Seemed to be playing out on the right until Chadwick came on. Showed a few good touches and maybe should have won a penalty in the first half. Still getting stick from the supporters whether its his fault or not, which is really annoying.


Steve Lomas
(Replaced Nowland, 61) I thought that Lomas would change the game when he came on. However he didn't do much - and then got sent off for abusive language. Should be setting an example to the youngsters, but instead he should look at NRC.

Luke Chadwick
(Replaced Rebrov, 67) Cameo really for Chadwick although he missed a very good chance but the ball wouldn't sit and he blasted over.

Richard Garcia
(Replaced Brevett, 84) I thought we had already got rid of this guy but it seems he is still about. Thought I would give him a chance after he banged a few goals in for the ressies - but unfortunately he is about as effective as an ashtray on a motorbike.

Jimmy Walker
Did not play.

Elliott Ward
Did not play.

Match Facts

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

Goals: Teddy Sheringham 42                  .

Booked: Nigel Reo-Coker 23 Rufus Brevett 45 Teddy Sheringham 48      .

Sent Off: Steve Lomas 90    .

Coventry City: Shearer, Staunton, Davenport, Carey, Shaw, Sherwood, Hughes, Doyle, Wood, Morrell, Johnson.

Subs not used: Marriot, Whing.

Goals: Doyle (45), Morrell (76).

Booked: Carey (39), Doyle (48).

Sent off: None.

Referee: C.Webster.

Attendance: 17,404.

Man of the Match: Nigel Reo-Coker.