Coca Cola Championship
Derby County 1 West Ham United 1

Wednesday, 29th September 2004
by East Stand Martin

What’s the most circuitous route you have ever made to watch a football match?

Today mine involved going to Derby from London via Exeter. Not exactly the most direct way to Pride Park, but I am now familiar with Mr Branson’s cross country service. Unlike 99% of West Ham fans, the game against the Rams is always a big one for me as I have some very good mates who are long-standing supporters. We have an arrangement which involves the bill being picked up on a post-match meal depending on the outcome. Let’s just say that I haven’t had to shell out for some time (11 games), although I have to admit that it came very close last season at Upton Park when they had a perfectly good goal disallowed towards the end.

Mugged but unabashed

After getting mugged (to use our manager’s exact words) by Derby’s hated rivals a few days earlier, tonight’s game took on added importance, especially in the light of a few drawn games between our closest rivals in the Championship.

The starting lineup was pretty familiar – the only change was that Hayden started for the injured Malky, although I was a little surprised to see Teddy start as he looked in need of a rest at the end of the Forest game.

As if to continue the way we ended at the City Ground, West Ham started this game looking like they had their minds on something completely different to football. Derby were really up for it and could have scored as early as the second minute when Marco Reich seemed to glide past a lacklustre Mullins and fire in a shot which Bywater held well down low. Then a minute later a shot by Adam Bolder was deflected and seemed to take an age coming down. It was going in and Bywater was called on again to get back under his bar and tip over. On 3 minutes Derby won a free kick down the right, but the ball ended up being headed harmlessly over.

Down but not out

It was no surprise given this early Rams domination that a goal came with just 5 minutes on the clock. Davenport failed to clear his lines and Derby won a corner which was delivered dangerously by the Basque Idiakez. Waiting at the far post was Michael Johnson who headed downwards past Bywater.

Conceding the goal didn’t create much urgency in the West Ham ranks and Derby nearly made it 2-0 on 7 minutes when a shot was fired in outside the box which Bywater nearly spilled as he took it high up.

Games can inexplicably turn, and so it proved on 10 minutes. Good work down the right by Teddy led to a ball out wide to Chadders who put over a good cross. The ball sailed over the head of Marlon but came out to the waiting Matty. Fortunately his shot took a nice deflection off Kenna, wrong footing Derby’s keeper.

The next period saw West Ham finally waking up to the task, although Carl Fletcher gave the ball away three times in quick succession around the quarter hour mark. On 21 minutes, Teddy made one of his trademark flicked headers to find Chadwick advancing on goal, but his left foot volley was skewed horribly wide. Chadders, though, was having a competitive and energetic game down the right flank.


24 minutes saw the most fluid passing movement of the half when there was a quick exchange of passes between Teddy, Powell and Matty. The cross found Chadders on the right hand side of the box but his lay off to Teddy ended up with the ball being wastefully blasted over.

Calum Davenport, who had another good game for the Irons, then put in a tremendous blocking tackle on 32 minutes to stop a Derby attack in its tracks. Reo-Coker gathered the loose ball and went on a blistering run through the centre. He found Matty with and inch-perfect pass and he delivered a really dangerous ball into the six yard box. Unfortunately a Derby boot got there first to put the ball over the bar.

It was encouraging to see some pace coming out of defence, and another quick attack followed two minutes later after a Derby free kick was cleared. Teddy found Matty he then delivered another great cross, but Marlon couldn’t get on the end of it.

The Irons defence looked bemused on 38 minutes as a sky high ball dropped down in the box to find the waiting Rasiak. Fortunately he didn’t have the guile to bring the ball under control and Bywater was able to leap and gather.

What Marlon needs

Three minutes later, Chadders made another useful run down the right and put over a useful ball which went to Marlon’s feet for a change. This is where Marlon is at his most dangerous – I’ll come back to this later – and he used his strength to turn the defender. Unfortunately he scooped his shot over.

With two minutes to go before the break, Reo-Coker made a penetrating run down the right and he found Chadwick with a nice pass. Chadders delivered a threatening cross and the Derby clearance found Fletch in a central position. He fired in a powerful low shot which beat the left hand post. The keeper must have got a touch on it as a corner followed which ended up coming out to Teddy who put in a poor shot wide.

At half time, my feeling was that the team had been able to recover from a dire start and that the game was for the taking in the second half.

Appalling dive

After the half time entertainment which consisted of a steward falling a*se over t*t trying to navigate a chain barrier, West Ham began much more positively. On 49 minutes, Teddy made a superb header to find Marlon but his shot was a wasted effort wide.

Three minutes later I found myself with about 1,999 other Hammers’ fans willing a ball over the line. After a fantastic run and determined work in the box by Reo-Coker, he managed to get a shot in which was only partially blocked by Camp. Unluckily for Nigel – who had a really effective game throughout – veteran defender Jeff Kenna was on hand to clear off the line.

Almost immediately after Matty was sent on his way again and he made a brilliant run to the dead ball line, but his cross was blocked out at the very last second by some good Derby defending.

On 54 minutes, Teddy found Chadders standing on the six yard line, but he couldn’t bring the ball under control. A minute later, Marlon made a great take and turn foxing the Derby defence. He delivered a dangerous cross, but Teddy could only head the ball at Camp.

Put a sock in it

It was at this point that a few numbskulls were abusing Marlon. I’m really getting sick of this and I joined a few neighbouring fans in telling one so-called fan to “shut the f*ck up”. After the game I had a chat with one of the boys that had come up to the game for the crack. He’s an Arsenal fan, but his take on the Marlon situation is that the service to him was not good. He’s right. Where Marlon excels is when the ball comes to his feet and he is able to hold off challenges and turn defenders. That’s what needs to happen with the final ball to get the best out of Marlon.

Derby introduced Peschisolido on 56 minutes for the disappointing Reich and three minutes later, Smith went off on a fine run down the left with Mullins looking unable to cope. The cross was good, but the header was not.

Then on 72 minutes, Derby nearly pulled off a goal with a piece of individual skill from Peschisolido. His expert overhead kick looked very dangerous for a second, but Bywater saved well.

Teddy denied

From the clearance that followed, I thought we had scored again, when a great run from Marlon led to the ball being cut back to Teddy with the keeper floundering. He had the goal at his mercy, but Konjic, one of three Derby defenders on the line, managed to block and clear his goal-bound shot.

Burley changed it again with the introduction of Taylor for the largely anonymous Idiakez on 74 minutes. A minute later, Smith made another fine run down the right followed by an inch-perfect cross. Bywater made an excellent block of the resulting header without looking like he knew too much about it.

Z-man took the field on 76 minutes for the tired-looking Teddy, although some numbskulls near me were baying for the substitution of Marlon. I remarked that I was surprised that Lomas was not coming on, although maybe Pardew had learnt something and made a positive move to try and win the match, rather than settling for the draw.

It all then became a bit scrappy. Reo-Coker won the ball again in midfield for about the tenth time and then West Ham fans’ favourite ref Mr G Poll blew up for a foul on Fletch with Reo-Coker in possession of the ball and going forward. It reminded me of that FA Cup game at Fulham when he stopped the game in similar fashion just as we were clear through on goal.

Z-man stamps his mark on the game

Z-man scuffed a poor shot wide with eight minutes left after he had been picked out by a Fletch pass, and then followed the main moment of controversy in the game. Z-man was battling for the ball down the right with Derby left back Jason Talbot when Poll blew up for a foul, penalising Zamora. The Derby fans then went spare as Z-man appeared to stamp on Talbot. Derby head-case Konjic went running over to barge Zamora on the touchline and Poll decided to sort that one out with a yellow card for both of them. A half-eaten pie was thrown from the crowd at Zamora as well, but no doubt video evidence will be looked at to see whether Poll got that one right.

That incident was about the only thing of note involving Z-man after he had joined the game and I personally would have liked to have seen the Ukrainian brought on instead as lately he has looked a lot sharper and able to win balls in dangerous positions.

Aside from an awful free kick from Matty and a comedy tumble from Z-man during the two minutes added time, the game fizzled out to a draw.

The curry was magnificent, the performance wasn’t

I joined up with the Derby boys to visit an excellent Indian restaurant called Anoki on London Road. The draw meant that the costs were split, but if you ever find yourself in Derby, it’s a top notch curry emporium. Acknowledging the fact that it’s an ex-cinema, they project fantastic excerpts from Bollywood movies on the wall.

This game marked the end of a disappointing mini-tour of the East Midlands which left us with just one point. Although Derby are struggling away from home, it is important to recognise that they have beaten Ipswich and Reading at Pride Park and now held us and Wigan to a draw. On the other hand I really do take issue with Pardew’s description of the performance as “magnificent”.

Alan, I’m a West Ham fan and I know what magnificent is. Magnificent is going to Old Trafford and seeing Paolo or Defoe score and win the match. Magnificent is going to Stamford Bridge and turning over the blue scum. Going to Derby in the Championship and getting a draw on a Wednesday night after losing to another team that hadn’t won at home all season is…..well…you tell me.

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Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater
Is looking the business. A few wayward kicks, straight from the Ludo book of kicking. Else a very good performance.

Hayden Mullins
Our worst player last night. Lost on pace, tackles and can't remember him completing a pass. Is he wearing the wrong size boots this season?

Chris Powell
A really good performance. Great tackles, got forward, crossed the ball, was dangerous and solid all night.

Tomas Repka
Solid, but for the first time in a while looked shaky.

Calum Davenport
We can only dream of owning him.

Carl Fletcher
Looked shaky to start then found his rhythm. Solid performance.

Nigel Reo-Coker
So nearly scored, a mazy run from a Marlon Harewood pull-back. Turned and shot, shot deflected, agonisingly trickled towards the goal. After 15 minutes they cleared the line.

Luke Chadwick
Industrious and was being a real handful. Links up with Teddy so well. Lost his puff on 60 minutes, and should have been replaced.

Matthew Etherington
What can I say ... he's back. (and not just for the goal).

Teddy Sheringham
Was everywhere, made everything, only thing he didn't do was score.

Marlon Harewood
He is simply not scoring. Looks threatening when he gets the ball, but that won't win us games.


Bobby Zamora
(Replaced Sheringham, 77) On for Teddy, impressed and looked like the only player that was going to score.

Jimmy Walker
Did not play.

Andy Melville
Did not play.

Steve Lomas
Did not play.

Sergei Rebrov
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Stephen Bywater, Hayden Mullins, Chris Powell, Tomas Repka, Calum Davenport, Carl Fletcher, Nigel Reo-Coker, Luke Chadwick, Matthew Etherington, Teddy Sheringham, Marlon Harewood.

Goals: Matthew Etherington 11                  .

Booked: Tomas Repka 84 Bobby Zamora 84        .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Derby County: Camp, Konjic, Kenna, Johnson, Talbot, Bolder, Huddlestone, Idiakez, Reich, Smith, Rasiak.

Subs not used: Grant, Vincent, Junior.

Goals: Johnson (6).

Booked: Konjic (84).

Sent off: None.

Referee: G.Poll.

Attendance: 23,112.

Man of the Match: Matthew Etherington.