West Ham United 1 Wolves 0
Saturday, 2nd October 2004
27,400 West Ham fans turned up for todays encounter, along with the 2,100 Wolves faithful. Even as both teams were warming up, I could sense a hostile atmosphere ready to verbally erupt in the direction of Mr Ince.As both line-ups were being called out on the PA, Mr Ince received what seemed to me to be a generous boo. Given that most of our fans direct more disapproval in the form of booing towards our own, I was disappointed. However the stadium was not full yet.
The one thing I was pleased with was Pardew finally dropping Teddy Sheringham. Harewood and Zamora were finally given the chance to perform. I was hoping both could make an impression on the game.
West Ham got the play underway, and all of a sudden, The entire Bobby Moore stand rose to their feet. "Stand up if you hate Paul Ince" echoed throughout Upton Park. Fifteen years on, still unforgiven. The atmosphere generated in the opening minutes was good, however the crowd focused on abusing Paul Ince, and I became frustrated at venting our anger at Ince, and not really getting behind the team as much as I would have liked, despite our individual efforts.
Harewood had the ball in the net after only three minutes, and given the space he had, I was curious about the Wolves defence who stood and stared. One look to the linesman confirmed that Marlon Harewood had strayed into an off-side position.
West Ham were using the wings well, and the width of the pitch being frequently used almost paid off several times. Zamora coming close a few times, forcing Michael Oakes to pull off a fantastic reflex save to deny Bobby, and Davenport clipped the top of the bar from a corner.
Paul Ince then hit a shot, reminiscent of that of Andy Reid's last Sunday. The ball fell to Ince, in a similar position to where Andy Reid had been, and in identical fashion, got underneath and volleyed harmlessly over.
Arguably best chance in the first half probably fell to Kenny Miller. As he turned, he hit a first time shot, which Bywater reacted to well, pushing the ball out, clipping the post on it's way out.
I say arguably, because as Harewood broke beyond the Wolves back line, he passed what looked to be a square ball to Zamora, who tucked it into the net with ease. When Zamora turned, he saw the assistant referee had flagged for offside. Zamora's livid reaction indicated that he may have been onside, especially with the protesting to both referee, and linesman. What irritated me was, in such situations, you should never be suspected offside, you should clearly remain square of the ball carrier. This was the first thing I was taught as a striker playing for my local side at a young tender age.
Seoul seemed to be causing Mullins a lot of problems on the flank, but the Asian's delivery were of poor quality, and drew routine aerial catches from Bywater. On corner, Bywater's reluctance to pick the ball from mid-air, resulted in him punching a corner clear. Etherington picked up the loose ball, Zamora and Reo-Coker broke at full speed, and Etherington's accurate pass found Zamora as they broke into the Wolves half. Reo-Coker called, received from Zamora in what could have been a better pass, and Reo-Coker failed to hit the target.
Both teams went into half time without a goal. It seemed to be one of those days. One where we had the ball in the net twice, and were not taking our chances, and Wolves going up the other end, and scoring out of the blue seemed predictable.
During the half-time break, I noticed Rebrov playing with his training top off, indicating he was going to play a part immediately. Lomas' top remained on, and I wondered what Pardew had in store. As the teams came out, Lomas went over to the bench, and removed his training top. Jeremy Nicholas then announced both Etherington, and Chadwick had been taken off. I was speechless. The wings seemed to be our main threat as we used them to our advantage in the first half. On came both Rebrov and Lomas for Chadders and Ethers.
We seemed to then shape-up as a diamond formation. Lomas the anchorman, Reo-Coker on the right-inside, Fletcher on the left-inside, and Rebrov given a free role in the hole. It proved to be an effective style of play.
Immediately, West Ham were attacking, and for the first fifteen minutes of the second half, had about five corner kicks. During this time, Zamora and Harewood had a lot of space and possession out on the wings when they got out there, however the final deliveries were shocking.
An aerial challenge then busted Paul Ince wide open. The elbow of Sergei Rebrov giving the Judas an eye-opener which caused some tension in the penalty box. As a result, Ince was sent off for treatment.
On the hour mark, Zamora made way for Sheringham. His first league-start of the campaign resulting in a disallowed goal, and a few poor headers which went astray.
Teddy immediately made an impact, winning plenty of aerial battles, and intricate little one-touch passes.
Midway through the second half, a cross into the box saw three West Ham players queuing up for the ball at the far post. From six-yards, Davenport seemed to have called it, and Harewood went up for the same ball, heading high and wide of goal. Davenport let his frustrations known to Harewood.
For the final twenty minutes, Harewood turned it on, combing with Reo-Coker down the right which Harewood seemed to have adopted as a wing-forward since the arrival of Sheringham, and it looked extremely effective. Harewood showed what he had been hiding most of the season, and running at Lee Naylor, and beating him, several times skinning the young left-back, before hitting the ball across the face of the goal at 100mph. He done the hard work, but was constantly finding it hard to finish with the easiest part with his passing.
With fifteen minutes to go, it was the substitute who managed to grab the winner. A battle thirty-yards out between Sheringham and Lescott saw Lescott fall to the floor and fail to clear the ball as he went down. Sheringham exposed his fault, and from twenty yards out, coolly slotted home past Michael Oakes, his 250th league goal of his career.
Then the heavens opened up, and the wings of the Bobby Moore disappeared to the back as it pissed down heavily for ten minutes or so. Whilst it was bucketing down, the supporters directed yet more abuse at Ince with, "Judas what's the score? Judas, Judas, what's the score?" chants.
Putting the game out of doubt
West Ham had other chances, but failed to take them. They were there for the taking, but the finishing let us down.
Harewood broke, one on one with a final defender to beat, similar to the Southend brace, and he managed to gain that yard, and when he pulled the trigger, a last gasp lunge saw Harewood's shot go out for a corner.
Not from the resulting corner, but one in the dying stages, Harewood and Reo-Coker went to take the corner. Two Wolves players ran over, anticipating a short corner, however the ball came out to Rebrov on the edge of the eighteen yard box, who whipped in a brilliant cross, and Sheringham's diving which he failed to latch onto rolled wide. It was definitely from the training ground, and a move which surprised all the Wolves players.
Wolverhampton pressed on, looking to salvage a point, and in the dying stages, were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous area. The resulting free-kick however came straight at Bywater head-height, which was tipped over.
The full-time whistle was blown, and West Ham had picked up the three points they heavily sought after.
It was a match dominated by West Ham, and the margin of victory perhaps should have been larger.
The man of the day for me though was Alan Pardew. I've criticised him in recent weeks for failing to apply changes to the team, and not experiment with new tactics. Today he answered many of our calls for change. The changes at half time to take off both wingers who provide natural width saw Harewood come alive. We looked a lot more sturdy, although with no width, balance was never an issue, and we heavily dominated, despite the scoreline suggesting otherwise. He got it spot on today, as did his brave subs - hopefully the first of many positive changes.
I thought Wolves were poor, and are currently in a false position, and come May, they'll be around the top eight somewhere. More importantly, it was three points we needed, and results went our way today once more.
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Player RatingsStephen Bywater
I thought he had a solid game. Fumbled an Ince shot in the second half, but got down to the ball before Carl Cort pounced. His distribution looked better, despite one poor free-kick which went down the line before going out.
He should be playing his heart out as Mackay has his spot when he comes back. He's sh*t. My Dad can tackle harder. Just some of Paddy's pre-match comments which had me chuckling away as it was clear he was never going to agree with fellow KUMBer Upton O'Good's view of Mullins' game. I thought he wasn't great, but done his job. Definitely not a full-back though.
Overlapped with Etherington at times during the first half, some of his passing was outrageously poor during the spell where we found it hard to keep possession. Looked a lot more solid in the second-half.
Definitely not the same Repka I see as a full-back. He seems a lot more aggressive as a centre-back, and still has that persistency to climb over a defender, and ended up giving away free-kicks in dangerous positions, ala play-off final style. He said something which offended a Wolves midfielder early on, and Repka coolly walked away after the confrontation.
The guy really is a breathe of fresh air. If we can secure the services of this young lad for the entire season, then I feel we should. Unlucky not to score today, the woodwork and Harewood's late arrival stopping him in his tracks. However that goal from a cross is inevitable. He even showed some trickery down in the corner in the second half beating his man. Was solid throughout.
His passing seemed a bit better today. He was willing to get stuck in, as always. At times when defending, seemed to panic in the air giving away needless corners and throw-ins deep in our own half. Also tried to be clever in the second half with a back heel which failed miserably. A decent game overall, and did a good job on the inside-left.
Same old, same old with today's young captain. I can't recall much dribbling with the ball, as he beats a man, but there certainly were some energising runs, and he enjoyed getting stuck in. However, once again, his final product was poor. A promising sign was though, as he was on the inside-right, and Harewood went to wing-forward, both combined extremely well, which is always a good sign.
He was willing to run at defenders which made a hell of a lot of difference. Lee Naylow is considered to be a good tackler of the ball, and he got himself into plenty of crossing positions which is a good sign. He could have broke quicker at times on counter attacks. Mullins seemed to know where he was, as he would often come deep to pick up the ball.
According to Hatter, was taking off at half-time due to him struggling before the match. In the forty-five minutes he featured though, he seemed to play well. Especially on counter attacks, and played several good balls. Beating his man at times as he entered the box, however, closed down quickly upon entry, and a chance was squandered. Looked good whilst he was on.
Just never seemed to work for him today. The linesman seemed to have a vendetta against him at times, and he was clearly frustrated. It will be interesting to see if the goal was offside, as if he managed to stray into such a position, I think it could easily be classed as a school boy error.
Produced a display above most today. Quick feet, willing to run, unselfish (disregarding the header he robbed Calum of), and was beating his man on a regular basis, and breaking into he box in a similar manner he done against Wigan on his home debut. Had chances to score, and the best probably came with a header which he sent wide in the second half. A very good performance all in all, and looked much more effective in the second half.
(Replaced Chadwick, 45) Kept it simple today, and provided adequate cover for the defence today, without recklessly diving in. He didn't have a great game, but far from a terrible game. Better than average.
(Replaced Etherington, 45) I thought he was superb. He sat in the hole, and hit some superb passes. His corners were dangerous, his crossing was great, and it was superb to see such a move from a set-piece. It was unfortunate Teddy Sheringham never connected properly, as it would have capped off a fine move.
His introduction had a positive impact on the game. Some intellectual passing, the goal, and playing as more of a striker today with Harewood going out wide. This seemed a lot more effective, and combining the work winning aerial challenges, and the goal, he had a good game.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Stephen Bywater, Hayden Mullins, Chris Powell, Tomas Repka, Calum Davenport, Carl Fletcher, Nigel Reo-Coker, Luke Chadwick, Matthew Etherington, Bobby Zamora, Marlon Harewood.
Goals: Teddy Sheringham 75 .
Booked: None booked. .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Wolves: Oakes, Clyde, Naylor, Lescott, Craddock, Newton, Olofinjana, Ince, Seol, Miller, Cor.
Subs not used: Jones, Bischoff.
Booked: None booked..
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: Calum Davenport.