Coca Cola Championship
West Ham United 2 Stoke City 0

Tuesday, 19th October 2004
by East Stand Martin

Tonight was Caledonian night down the Boleyn Ground. My mate Celtic Ryan was joining me for one of his occasional visits and quite coincidentally I bumped into another sweaty sock at the Priory Road ticket office.

This geezer had quite a gallows mentality. “I’m West Ham, Hibs and Scotland, which means I’m really f*cked”, he said. This only goes to show that there’s always someone worse off than you.

The West Ham lineup saw the welcome return of a couple of players that had missed the QPR game. Back came Malky in the centre of defence, Rufus in for the injured Powell and Matty down the left. We started upfront with the Zamora/Harewood combination, leaving Teddy and Sergei on the bench. Clearly Pardew had decided to give Z-man the opportunity to show what he was made of after his implied criticism of the player earlier in the week.

We started brightly enough and it was Zamora who got a shot in as early as the first minute following a run down the left by Rufus. However the effort was easily taken by Ed de Goey. Four minutes later Marlon showed real pace piling forward into the box with intent, but a last ditch tackle thwarted him just before he was able to unleash a shot. You wondered why he took so long about it.

A miserable jock speaks out

Ryan, who does a brilliant impression of Alan Hansen was able to come out with some classic clichés in the style of the dour porridge-gobbler (“diabolical”, “rushed”, “casual”, “no control”) following a series of poor clearances by our central defence. On 10 minutes Malky made a dreadful pass to a Stoke player and then a couple of minutes later Tom gave the ball away twice in quick succession.

Marlon found himself in a good position on 14 minutes but he shot tamely wide. Most immediately the ball came down the other end and Tom made a horrible mistake which allowed Stoke to gather the ball. Fortunately the shot that followed was taken down low comfortably by Bywater.

On 20 minutes Chadders put in some good work down the right and then made a nicely angled pass into the right hand side of the box which Marlon picked up. His shot was poor and dragged wide of the post.

Z-man shows

Two minutes after that Zamora brought the ball down well on the edge of the boxas it floated over the head of the stout defender. He found some space well but his shot was also blasted wide. Z-man featured again on 28 minutes when he made an excellent layoff to Chadders who hit a low powerful shot through a sea of legs. De Goey made a fine save down low when a goal looked certain.

Matty delivered his first surely penetrating run of the night on the half hour through the centre rather than down the right. A gap opened up just in front of the back four who looked far too deep allowing Matty to send in exactly the ball that Marlon requires – to feet. Marlon made a great swivel and shot powerfully into the bottom corner.

Mullins, not to be outdone by some of the dodgy passing out of defence in the first 15 minutes then decided to feed a Stoke player almost from the kick off and we were lucky that they could not capitalise on his error.

Lack of quality and then quality restored

That was about it for the first half – we had the advantage, although there was not a lot of quality on show, with the exception of Reo Coker who was having one of his typical bustling and competitive games. Matty took what looked like a bad knock to his foot just before the break and Chadders got a yellow card in added time for kicking the ball away after a free kick had been awarded.

The Matty injury was bad enough for him to be replaced just three minutes into the second half. On came Teddy to the usual acclamation and almost immediately he started to show his class with some deft touches. The arrival of Teddy though almost seemed to have a mesmorising effect on Z-man who just seemed incapable of getting his foot on the ball in the opening exchanges.

On 58 minutes the game effectively came to an end when a rather average cross from the left hand side by Zamora surprised the Stoke defence. A slight deflection saw the ball arrive to the waiting Harewood deep in the box down the right. He did exactly the right thing with an early delivery back in which Teddy met with a terrific little back flick a la Thierry Henry. De Goey was totally foxed and we were 2-0 up.

Stoke roll of the dice

Stoke tried to rescue something with a double change on 63 minutes, but the damage was already done and they just didn’t look at the races at all tonight. A couple of minutes later, Lomas had a good chance to volley home after a West Ham free kick bounced out to find him well placed centrally just outside the box. He couldn’t find the target.

The remaining 20 minutes of the match was about West Ham largely holding possession and depriving the ineffectual Stoke of the ball. We just controlled proceedings – not overly exciting to watch but professional in execution. Chadders did manage a howler of a pass after a series of West Ham exchanges before suffering his almost habitual substitution for Fletch on 76 minutes.

Hardly had the ex Cherry joined the game when Mullins failed to deal with a high ball allowing Stoke substitute Carl Asaba to get in a good shot at close range which Bywater did well to parry.

West Ham won a corner on 78 minutes which led to Malky challenging in the air and pressurising the Stoke defence with the ball coming back across the goal. Teddy was waiting there and looked certain to score, but he could only poke the ball wide of the upright.

The ten minute Ukrainian

Predictably again, Sergei was given his ten minutes on the pitch, replacing Zamora, who got an almost sympathetic round of applause as he went off. Rebrov looked immediately lively, leading Ryan to comment, “Looks like he’s been hanging out with that Mutu”.

The song of the night then came from the Bobby Moore Lower – directed at de Goey: “You’re just a gay porn actor”. This taunt was encouraged by some scuffling down the Centenary end. From where I was sitting it looked like there was some banter going on which led to the police piling in and chucking a few fans out from both sides of the divide.

With three minutes to go, probably the best passing movement of the night happened between Teddy and Sergei which in turn led to a beautifully weighted pass from Marlon through to Fletch in the box. He fired in a shot from an acute angle against the keeper’s legs when a slanted ball back may well have seen a tap in for 3-0.

That was about it. Not a great spectacle and Stoke put in a pretty lacklustre performance. After we got the second goal, the game was killed off by long periods of West Ham possession. We could have been there all day and Stoke wouldn’t have scored and on this evidence it seems hard to believe that they will be up challenging at the top. They did look very much like a team that hadn’t won in six.

As you all probably know by now, I don’t do player ratings but Celtic Ryan fancied a stab at this. As I rarely agree with people north of Hadrian’s Wall, I’ll leave it to others to slag off his opinions.

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Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater
Wasn?EUR(TM)t asked to do much, but when called upon, he did well.

Hayden Mullins
Pretty solid but his distribution looked suspect

Rufus Brevett
Nothing spectacular but hardly troubled.

Tomas Repka
Also made early errors but settled into a controlled performance.

Malky Mackay
Shaky start, probably due to not having played for a while. Improved as game went on and looked pretty untroubled.

Steve Lomas
Put himself about but not particularly creative in his play. Relatively error free.

Nigel Reo-Coker
Until Teddy came on he was probably the best player on the pitch. I like the way he surges forward and battles hard for the ball. Looks like a Premiership quality player.

Luke Chadwick
This bloke just does not fancy putting the tackles in, and he bottled it on more than one occasion. Never seems to take defenders on and get by them.

Matthew Etherington
Looked pretty sharp until he got crocked.

Bobby Zamora
Simply isn?EUR(TM)t cutting it around the box. Never looked like he thought he could win the ball. Doesn?EUR(TM)t hunt the ball down and makes it his. For a big bloke he just looks lightweight.

Marlon Harewood
Strong on the ball and went looking for it. Looks a bit isolated up front as Zamora?EUR(TM)s not helping.


Teddy Sheringham
(Replaced Etherington, 49) As soon as he came on the quality showed. He just has a lot of craft.

Carl Fletcher
(Replaced Chadwick, 77) Looked quite good for the short time he was on ?EUR" injected a bit of creativity into midfield.

Sergei Rebrov
(Replaced Zamora, 80) Busy and industrious during his brief display. You felt like you would have liked to have seen more to make a better judgement.

Jimmy Walker
Did not play.

Anton Ferdinand
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Stephen Bywater, Hayden Mullins, Rufus Brevett, Tomas Repka, Malky Mackay, Steve Lomas, Nigel Reo-Coker, Luke Chadwick, Matthew Etherington, Bobby Zamora, Marlon Harewood.

Goals: Marlon Harewood 31 Teddy Sheringham 59                .

Booked: Steve Lomas 45          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Stoke City: De Goey, Halls, Duberry, Thomas, Hill, Henry, Clarke, Russell, Hall, Noel-Williams, Akinbiyi.

Subs not used: Simonsen, Neal.

Goals: .

Booked: Akinbiyi (57), Thomas (80).

Sent off: None.

Referee: L.Probert.

Attendance: 29,808.

Man of the Match: Nigel Reo-Coker.