Ipswich Town 0 West Ham United 2
Wednesday, 18th May 2005
by East Stand Martin
Ever been bear hugged by a fellow West Ham high on adrenalin and lager?If you have, I can tell that you need to experience it Romford-style. I only met the geezer for the first time at Portman Road but my ribs are still f*cked now as well as my vocal chords. Pardew decided a different approach to this game, bringing in Fletch and playing a 4-5-1 line up. Newton was unlucky to be dropped to the bench, but you could see the logic of the approach as we needed to do something about Magilton. Twice – last Saturday, and the first leg of last year’s play off semi final – that bloke has been at the heart of our problems.
Amongst raucous singing and a carnival atmosphere, the game began with Marlon trying a snatch shot in the first minute but thus went harmlessly wide.
A throw in on two minutes saw Miller hit a vicious shot from just outside the area, but Fletch was in the way to block the goal-bound shot. Almost immediately after, my heart was in my mouth as Jimmy came careering out of his area to clear a ball, which he judged perfectly.
Miller tried another shot on three minutes after a pass from Currie, but this was ballooned miles over.
Matty looked like he was carrying on where he left off on Saturday with a great pass to send Z-man on his way. The defender stood off and a good cross was put over but the excellent Kelvin Davis grabbed the ball easily.
Ipswich got their first corner on 5 minutes and a half clearance fell to Westlake, but like Miller before him, the shot was poor and wide of Jimmy’s left hand post.
Solid and cultured
Ward who was looking solid as a rock at the back managed a weird half control of a ball put over the top on ten minutes and this followed by him hitting a ball against Bent to stop him getting it a minute later. Elliott is one of the most cultured centre backs I have seen for his age and always seems to just do enough to put off strikers. It seems a long time ago that we were mourning the loss of Carl Davenport. Who needs him when we’ve got pure class in the form of Elliott. What a find.
The first real chance came for Ipswich on 11 minutes when a long throw was defended but ended up at the feet of Currie. He side footed a volley first time, but it went straight into Walker’s arms who was positioned well.
Powell won a great header on 13 minutes which sent Matty away down the left. He left the defence for dead and cut into the box, but his low shot was blocked and then put behind by a defender. From the resulting corner Fletch headed in from outside the box to find Ward waiting but he was offside.
Almost immediately afterwards, Z-man, who was looking very lively, made a nice pass out to find Powell. He put in a good cross, but Zamora could not get the ball down quick enough and a stubbed shot was easily gathered by the ‘keeper.
The pattern of the game was confirmed again as Ipswich were confined to yet another long range shot way off target, due to good organisation at the back by West Ham.
Bent found space down the right on 17 minutes and whipped in a dangerous cross which Anton just managed to get to first and put behind for a corner.
Matty got free again on 21 minutes and shot off down the wing. He put in a great ball into the box which nearly found Marlon, but the Ipswich defence just managed to get the ball away.
Unlike the dire performance of Rennie at Upton Park, ref Steve Dunn was quick to punish bad tackles on Matty, and Westlake went in his book on 25 minutes after he raked his studs down Matty’s shin. The problem with poor officials like Rennie is that not only do they make bad decisions, but they lose control of the game, as players think that they can take liberties.
Fletch, who seemed to be everywhere in the centre of the park stroked a terrific ball out wide to find Tom on 31 minutes and he went on a great run into the box. Unfortunately his cross couldn’t find Zamora and the keeper punched it away. A corner followed where Anton seemed to nick the ball off the head of Ward who was in a good position to score.
Matty received a nice ball and found Zamora who in turn made a measured lay off to Fletch in space out right on 35 minutes, but he put over a poor cross which was easily dealt with.
Jimmy spills it and Tom decks Davis
Immediately after this move, Ipswich went forward, and Currie found himself with acres of room about 35 yards out. Maybe Royle had ordered him to shoot on sight, because he let loose with a wickedly curling shot that almost completely fooled Walker. He went to catch it but only managed to get part of his arm around the ball which then loped over the cross bar. It was one of those goalkeeping errors we have all seen result in a goal. A corner followed where the rattled Jimmy didn’t deal with the ball again and hit it against an Ipswich player. We’ve all seen those go in as well, but it didn’t.
With a minute of ordinary time left, Matty fed a ball down the left flank to Zamora who managed to get to the by line and put a ball over which found the advancing Tom. In a quest for that elusive goal before he probably departs the club, Tom ran in and gave us the comedy moment of the night as he drilled in a shot which looked like it KO’ed Davis who took it right in the mush.
Half time came with the game deadlocked, although we definitely shaded it. One of the good features of Portman Road is that you can peer through the windows of the boxes and have a gander at the televisions in there. I found myself looking back there during the interval and a few more times as the game unfolded.
The first action of note in the second half was one of those trademark runs by Reo-Coker. He just seemed to run into a load of space with defenders backing off. He hit a decent shot from outside the area but this was held down low comfortably by Davis. One of these days, he’s going to score after one of those runs.
On 54 minutes, a mistake by Wilnis allowed Z-man to win the ball just inside the Ipswich half, and once again the Ipswich defence backed off allowing Zamora to shoot. Davis gathered that one almost as comfortably as the shot before.
Marlon the predator
It was a long throw in on 60 minutes which started the move that led to sheer unbridled jubilation amongst the travelling support. A series of passes were exchanged, Fletch picked up the ball centrally and laid off a lovely pass to the edge of the box. This is where Marlon the predator likes to find the ball at his feet as he can always use his strength to roll off defenders. He made for the by line and then rolled a devastating cross into the 6 yard box to find the waiting Z-man who sidefooted into the net.
Head tennis took place in the West Ham box on 67 minutes but Anton did well to shin away a powerful low cross, although it looked like it hurt him.
Marlon had been given a job of defensive duties in the 4-5-1 formation and he made a real striker’s tackle on 70 minutes. Fletch gave away a free kick a minute later, and when the ball was cleared from this, Marlon tidied up deep in his own half. He nutmegged an opponent and then slipped the ball to Reo-Coker who gave him the ball back. He looked up and sent over a great ball towards Zamora. What happened next was absolutely beautiful. It was sublime. It was South American in execution. It was a controlled, quality volley that rivalled the great Italian master’s goal against Wimbledon.
I had to join in. I’ve never liked the song, but it had to be done. “He comes from Shite Hart Lane, he’s better than Jermain…” We have waited 15 long months to see that match winning quality from Z-man, but it was almost worth waiting for. Although Teddy may be fit for the final, Zamora surely must start
The match felt won when Magilton the play maker came off and then Dailly came on for the excellent Tom who looked like he’d tweaked a hamstring. Dailly looked like he’d even done something about the Leo Sayer barnet.
Bowditch nearly brought down a fine ball on 77 minutes but he lost control of the ball just in front of goal.
Another tactical change happened on 78 minutes when Newton came on for Z-man. I would have loved to have seen a hattrick but it was the right decision.
No ideas left
Ipswich looked bereft of ideas and every time they tried to hoist it forward to Kuqi or Bent, the central defence was absolutely solid. It was marvellous to watch – two twenty year olds taking on and coping with two of the most dangerous strikers in the league.
Wilnis got into a great position on 85 minutes and put a ball into the danger area, but there was Ward immediately into challenge and block.
Mark Noble came on for the last couple of minutes of extra time for Matty and the rest of the game was comfortably played out by West Ham apart from a moment when Bent got a free header in added time from one of the few decent crosses put over in the second half. There was a funny moment when Marlon had a bit of scrap down by the corner flag. The keeper trod on his foot and Marlon went down like he’d been shot. He got booked for simulation.
The final whistle went and we all went mental. The support was superb and Romford was absolutely right when he said that the promised Ipswich “cauldron” hadn’t turned up. We were the f*cking cauldron and we are going back to Cardiff.
ALAN PARDEW’S CLARET & BLUE ARMY
The one thing where I thought the support was ungenerous was in the continued non-recognition of the manager’s contribution. We slagged him badly (and rightly) for the tactics in Cardiff last year, but he got it absolutely right tonight. Credit where credit is due. He has come through a pile of sh*t this year where at some points he seemed always to be 90 minutes away from the sack. The media was on his case, we were on his case. Sure, mistakes were made earlier in the season, but he stuck relentlessly to the task under intense pressure. That takes a lot of bottle. I take my hat off to you, Alan, let’s now go and do it in Wales.
(Player ratings by Graeme Howlett)
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Player RatingsJimmy Walker
A clean sheet for Mansfield-fan Jimmy, although he had a fair bit of luck with one shot that squirmed loose and could have gone anywhere - and on another night probably would have done.
Despite being linked with several clubs in recent weeks Repka has continued to give 100% for the Hammers. Plus he gave us the most entertaining moment of the night when he almost lifted Kelvin Davis' head from his shoulders with a point blank shot.
Not as forward thinking as on Saturday but stuck to the task and did a good job. Obviously enjoying his football at West Ham; the irony being that promotion could see the end of his career at Upton Park.
It's hard to find fault with Elliott tonight, this was a good old-fashioned performance - ie if the ball comes anywhere near me, I'm going to hoof it clear. Simple but very, very effective.
Excellent again, and looking like a Premiership footballer. More of the same in the final please.
Playing alongside two defensive midfileders Nigel was given license to roam forward whenever necessary, and had a great game. His best in some time, actually.
Probably one of the quietest on the field, but did his job. Reverted to right-back after Repka left the field late in the second half.
Targeted yet again by the Ipswich hatchet men, but definitely got the better of them despite one or two very dodgy tackles. Like the team, Matty is hitting form at exactly the right moment.
Brought in to add a bit of steel in midfield, Fletcher had probably his best ever game in a West Ham shirt. His work in front of the back four ensured the Ipswich midfield didn't get a sniff all night.
Beginning to prove his doubters wrong - and we're all delighted for him. Two goals - the second absolutely sublime in execution - making it three out of the four we scored in the two legs. Deserves a start in the final regardless of the situation with Teddy Sheringham.
Despite professing to hate it he does play awfulyl well on the flank. Topped off his game with the 90-yard run which made our second goal - and if we've scored a better one since leaving the Premiership I haven't seen it.
(Replaced Repka, 76) A decent run-out for the football genius who is unlikely to be involved in the final due to the emergence of Ward and Ferdinand.
(Replaced Zamora, 79) Brought in to ensure there were no last minute hiccups. Unlucky to be dropped in the tactical shake-up after a good performance on Saturday.
(Replaced Etherington, 89) Brought on to kill off the last few seconds. Did considerably more running in the post-match celebrations.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Jimmy Walker, Tomas Repka, Chris Powell, Elliott Ward, Anton Ferdinand, Nigel Reo-Coker, Hayden Mullins, Matthew Etherington, Carl Fletcher, Bobby Zamora, Marlon Harewood.
Goals: Bobby Zamora 61 Bobby Zamora 72 .
Booked: Marlon Harewood 90 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Ipswich Town: Davis, Wilonis, Diallo, De Vos, Naylor, Miller, Magilton, Horlock, Westlake, Kuqi, Bent.
Subs not used: Price, Bowditch, Counago.
Booked: Wilnis (59), Naylor (85).
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: Carl Fletcher.