Tuesday, April 24

2-1 to the Cockney Boys!

Leicester City 1 West Ham 2
It’s off to the Lucky Pub somewhere in central London for this one, with Nigel, Gavin, Matt and Lisa and Nigel’s mate Tom. The very pub where various Irons have seen WHU beat Arsenal at Highbury, win a play-off semi-final at Ipswich and achieve several other notable away victories. There’s some debate if we should be wasting the pub’s karma on this game and if a draw would still count as lucky as we haven’t actually lost but have blown any hope of the top two, or whether it would destroy the aura of the Lucky Pub – Matt thinks it would.

We discover in the Standard that shouty professor Ruud Boffin has left the club and that Matt, possibly drunk on blackcurrant and soda, announces that he has seen two thirds of his Hammers' appearances. It’s a surprise that Lansbury is dropped but his replacement Collison looks fresh. While Carlton Cole is playing while still suffering from his “troublesome knee”. Collison goes close with a hard low shot that Schmeichel saves and Cole is put clear by Noble but CC is not exactly pacey these days and is robbed by a last-ditch tackle. Nolan flashes a volley just wide but then Leicester fire a warning, a good headed chance being glanced wide.

We go behind when Taylor sells himself and the unmarked Beckford heads home Marshall’s cross on 34 minutes and any hope of automatic promotion looks to have gone. “Taylor’s having a nightmare!” rages Matt. Almost inevitably Noble finds Taylor who plays in a great low cross that is bundled into the net by Winston Reid. We press before the break and Vaz Te has a shot deflected wide and fires a free kick past the post.

In the second half we know we have to win. Nolan fires a great chance over when he could have controlled out and shot. Matt wonders what has gone wrong with Collison this season, and his anti-Midas football punditry works brilliantly. We score a second when O’Neil’s shot is blocked and Collison shoots home a great 20-yarder that Schmeichel gets a hand to but can’t keep out. We can hear Bubbles around the ground and despite ourselves start to get quite nervous.

We try hard to boost our goal difference. Vaz Te and Collison try to pass to each other instead of shooting, Collison has a good effort deflected wide by Bamba and Nolan should score a third when he inexplicably dawdles in the box and hits the keeper.

Cole goes off to be replaced by Collins and there’s a late header that is straight at Green and we see the game out for our 13th away win of the season – the best away record in the club’s history.

“Well, we’ve prolonged the agony,” says Nigel, before he, Gav and myself head off to the non-lucky Harp pub for some post-match analysis over Hopback ale. If Southampton draw at home to Coventry and we win by 4-0 we go up, or if the Saints lose and we win we go up. Easy. All we have to do is ensure that Ricky Lambert injures himself by dropping a salad cream bottle on his toe Dave Beasant-style, Southampton are laid low by an outbreak of bubonic plague and that Coventry relax and play like footballing demi-gods and we’re there. Possibly.

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