Coca Cola Championship
West Ham United 1 Cardiff City 0

Monday, 7th February 2005
by Chris Scull

This was a goalless draw with a West Ham goal in it. That doesn't make sense, but neither did the applause that greeted Marlon Harewood's 68th minute drive into the Bobby Moore/East Stand corner.

Jimmy Greaves once said "football's a funny old game"; he's right. I spent in the region of 70 minutes of today's game laughing, but the sort of maniacal laugh that crazed psychopaths let out after they've chopped off their own arm or something. We were fairly rubbish today, but we've won.

Carl Fletcher's magnificent header on the end of a delicious Chris Powell cross on the 89th minute triggered old Premiership memories of enjoyment within Upton Park. It would be all too easy to forget about the other 88 minutes, but in a match report, I think the rest of play is worth a mention.

West Ham were, over the course of 90 minutes, tremendously lucky to escape with all three points. Cardiff were arguably the brighter of the two sides in the first half; Junichi Inamoto in particular, firing shots into the chest of Bywater as well as providing Peter Thorne with a good chance only for Thorne to blaze his effort over the bar.

West Ham, much to my own frustration, continued to play a strange new breed of football whereby we pass it to the defence, who then lump it to the strikers who in turn lose the header leaving our midfield to pick it up to mount an attack. Needless to say this doesn't work - hence our recent defeats - but the fact we have decent enough players sometimes means we can do something dissimilar to this. Mark Noble especially continues to look an outstanding prospect. The midfield dynamo outperformed both Fletcher and Reo-Coker. His substitution on 84 minutes drew criticism from various areas of the ground, but mysteriously Pardew's harshest critics were in the away end.

Various chants from "we want Pardew out" to "you'll be sacked in the morning" rang out from the Cardiff supporters, even drawing relatively muted applause from the Bobby Moore lower. It was speculated that even they had had enough of the droll, boring football we were playing, yet this criticism had a strange effect on the frustrated yawning Upton Park faithful.

For some reason, even though it was not an overt statement of support for the manager, Cardiff's suggestion struck a resolve from West Ham fans to get behind the team; a few rousing choruses of 'Bubbles' later and we were playing good football, putting a bit of pressure on Cardif. But inevitably the inability to create anything worthy of a cheer led to fans manifesting their frustration in boos.

Yet to say anything worthy of note happened outside the last five minutes would be more or less a lie. Up until the last few moments it was the view of those sitting around me that this was the most boring match ever witnessed at Upton Park (though not necessarily the worst). Carl Fletcher's last gasp strike went someway to mask this fact. But as my Arsenal supporting flatmate Pete said on the way home, "it was one of those games that you'd rather have watched on Teletext".

In fact I could have watched the match on Teletext and probably have written a similar match report. We won, we won ugly, but we're still not playing well. It would be a complete denial to say there is plenty to talk about with regards to today's incredibly mind-numbing encounter, aside from Pete's modernisation of 'Bubbles' to coincide with how he felt watching the game, that went something like "I'm forever smoking crack, it helps take away the pain".

Pardew mentioned his distaste at Neil Warnock's earlier comments about Mark Noble in his programme notes today. Perhaps this motivation to destroy Sheffield United next week will lead to a good run of wins and a new found belief. There is hope, little of it, that maybe; just maybe, we may be able to pull ourselves out of this mess. After today it does seem a little more possible.

But to present some finer detail to this lunchtimes game; I had a cup of coke at half time, the Hammerettes were distinctly adventurous in their choice of outfit, the PA system kept failing, oh and did I mention Carl Fletcher scored in the 89th minute? I did? In that case I've run out of stuff to write about.

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Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater
Comments to follow.

Hayden Mullins
Comments to follow.

Chris Powell
Comments to follow.

Anton Ferdinand
Comments to follow.

Malky Mackay
Comments to follow.

Carl Fletcher
Comments to follow.

Mark Noble
Comments to follow.

Nigel Reo-Coker
Comments to follow.

Bobby Zamora
Comments to follow.

Teddy Sheringham
Comments to follow.

Marlon Harewood
Comments to follow.


Luke Chadwick
(Replaced Zamora, 61) Comments to follow.

Sergei Rebrov
(Replaced Noble, 84) Comments to follow.

Jimmy Walker
Did not play.

Rufus Brevett
Did not play.

Trent McClenahan
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Stephen Bywater, Hayden Mullins, Chris Powell, Anton Ferdinand, Malky Mackay, Carl Fletcher, Mark Noble, Nigel Reo-Coker, Bobby Zamora, Teddy Sheringham, Marlon Harewood.

Goals: Carl Fletcher 89                  .

Booked: None booked.           .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Cardiff City: Alexander, Weston, Gabbidon, Lee, Langley, Barker, Collins, Kavanagh, McAnuff, Thorne, Inamoto.

Subs not used: Warner, Bullock, Fleetwood.

Goals: .

Booked: Gabbidon (73).

Sent off: None.

Referee: M.Stroud.

Attendance: 23,716.

Man of the Match: tbc.