Coventry City 2 West Ham United 1
Monday, 30th August 2004
by Matt Helm
Coventry earned a battling 2-1 home win over West Ham tonight in a game where the Sky Blues making the most of their chances proved the difference between the two teams.West Ham started the game with what could be described as a 4-2-3-1 formation. Reo-Coker and Nowland playing in front of a back four, with Sheringham playing as the target man in front of Etherington, Rebrov and Harewood.
Although both teams enjoyed a bright start, things looked a little disjointed for The Hammers. Rebrov, for one, appeared to be having trouble working out quite where he fitted in - being largely bypassed with balls from Nowland and Reo-Coker being played through to Teddy.
After a few minutes, pressure on the defence led to Coventry's keeper kicking the ball straight to Sheringham's feet on the edge of the box. He had time and space, but instead of driving nearer to goal and unleashing a shot he attempted to chip Shearer, who was already back on his line.
The visitors created two clear openings soon after, but neither led to a worthwhile effort on goal. Then, a Coventry headed 'goal' from a free-kick was celebrated with enthusiasm by the home fans. However, it was immediately ruled out for pushing - much to our relief.
Referee Mr C.Webster wanted to stamp his mark on the game, so booked Reo-Coker early on for daring to tackle somebody. This set the pattern of his officialdom for the rest of the game.
Neither Mullins, nor Brevett looked entirely comfortable at the back; this was evident with several mix-ups that allowed Coventry to apply their own periods of pressure as a result.
With no goals forthcoming, a tabby cat decided to enter the fray and made an 80-yard dash down the right hand side - all to no avail however, so he/she skulked off to look for alternative reward.
Neither team took control for any period, but West Ham were settling into some kind of rhythm in patches. Nowland and Reo-Coker were looking busy and on 42 minutes the latter managed to break through the Coventry defence and square the ball for Sheringham to tap into an empty net. Mandatory celebrations ensued.
The celebrations were short lived though, as Coventry were awarded yet another free-kick which Michael Doyle effortlessly dispatched into the right hand top corner. I haven't a West Ham player knock in a free-kick like that for quite some years. Although maybe I missed an example of the once in a blue moon event, somewhere along the line.
The second half started with no changes to either line up. The game continued in a similar vein with patches of pressure from both teams - punctuated with Brevett falling over every few minutes.
Despite not managing much in the way of goal-bound efforts from the chances created, West Ham were actually looking reasonably comfortable when on the ball. This changed after about 60 minutes or so when several substitutions were made.
Lomas came on for West Ham and produced several of his trademark hospital balls and little else. Now West Ham tended to ponder when in possession, for even longer than they had before.
Coventry were capitalising and closing us down quickly. When our men did the same to them, it brought dividends - but it was all too infrequent. The home team carved out a couple of good chances and one of them ended in the back of Bywater's net, with a clever scissor kick finish from Andrew Morrell.
After this, all West Ham seemed to achieve was to pass the ball up to the half-way line and back to the keeper again. The game was clearly lost - the shape of the team that had awkwardly formed into something half reasonable, during the first half, had completely gone.
It's not all bad - until the last 20 minutes, the football being played was an improvement on the two previous games. We could be winning comfortably in a couple of months if the trend continues!
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Player RatingsStephen Bywater
Flapped at a few crosses and his distribution was awful. A few good saves to somewhat make amends.
Reasonably solid - strong head on the ball .
Fell over a lot and gave away several free-kicks.
Made a few mistakes, also made a few telling contributions .
West Ham's Man of the Match.
Looked a bit lost at times but also showed some good touches.
Showed some good form, but clever flick-on's don't really work if there are bodies in the way .
Looked good when he tried.
(Replaced Nowland, 61) Just awful.
(Replaced Rebrov, 67) Only he and NRC were prepared to take people on.
(Replaced Brevett, 84) Wasn't on long enough to do anything.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest 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.
Man of the Match: Nigel Reo-Coker.