Thursday, April 8

Drawing drawing West Ham!

Everton 2 West Ham 2

We never win at Goodison. And Matt, the Don Draper-like smooth operator of the East Stand, is taking Lisa on a romantic mini-break to Scouseland for the game. He’s had a dream that Collison scored a goal for us but there was a hole in the net and the ref disallowed it. As the psychiatrist said on Fawlty Towers: There's a whole conference in that.

I’m at my mother-in-law’s in Buntingford, fortified by champagne and wine over Easter lunch, looking for a pub. The Fox and Duck has a nice screen but the commentary is drowned out by the jukebox.

Behrami is missing having injured himself in the warm-up. Still, we appear to be competing in midfield and Parker is outstanding, wining tackles everywhere and even heading the ball while on the ground. Noble is playing well too and you wonder if the law of averages means we must get a point somewhere. Only Parker is booked by Howard Webb, wrongly as he won the ball, and will miss the next two games.

The jukebox accompanies the action with Walk This Way, possibly a tribute to Mido, and some country song, rather aptly about going down to the town of lonely hearts.

At this moment appalling defending does for us again. On 24 minutes Spector heads the ball up into the air, Da Costa loses the second header and Bilyaletdinov steps across Upson to score with a header. Oh for James Collins, or anyone who can head simple balls away from our box.

But at least we don’t fold, and right on half-time Cole is running at Distin in the box and is nudged over. Penalty! Distin was the last man but is inexplicably only booked not sent off.

Oh no, we have hope. There’s a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s Mido shaping up to take the penalty. Why oh why when Noble and Parker are on the pitch?

“He needs the money!” suggests one punter at the bar.

It’s like the Cup Final all over again when we watched Zamora run-up knowing he’d miss. There’s a terrible slow motion moment as Mido strokes the ball into the corner for Howard to make a fine save.

It’s a killer to miss a penalty before half-time and I move pubs to the Black Bull where there’s only about four customers but a nice pint of AK and Sky with sound.
We start the second half with purpose. The fans start a Claret and Blue army chant and it appears to galvanize the lads. Finally the players look angry. Mido puts over a cross and even finds our players with some of his lay-offs.

Mark Noble finds the ball rebounding off a defender into his path and he hits the bar with an exquisite lob.

Kovac wins a couple of tackles on the edge of the box, Billy Bonds-style, and finds Stanislas who plays in Cole only for the England man to shoot wide when well placed.

We’re taking the game to Everton and look the better side. We win a corner and amazingly Da Costa bundles the ball home with a chip over the keeper. Could this be where our season turns?

We survive a valid penalty appeal when Da Costa catches Saha late with his leg and David Moyes looks like someone’s spilt his pint. It gets very, very nervous from now on, but surely we can hold on for a point, if not three.

But no, we have the mark of a relegation side. On 85 minutes we fail to cope with Baines’ cross and sub Yakubu gets between Da Costa and Upson to head home. Sodding West Ham, another defeat we don’t deserve. Seven defeats in a row.

Everton will easily hold out now especially as there’s only Faubert on the right playing in a fantastic cross and substitute Ilan diving to power home an unstoppable header into the back of the net. YEEEES!!! I find myself jumping up with my fists in the air and shouting in n deserted pub. Buntingford hasn’t seen scenes like it since West Ham last got a point. What a cross from Gustav!

Somehow we hold out for three minutes of stoppage time to draw. “Plenty of fighting spirit and the fans were great,” texts Matt.

Iain Dowie in the Sky studio looks stunned. We’ve got a point, we’ve got a point, we’ve got one, West Ham’s got a point!


matt said...

It was a real shame Parker was booked, ruling him out of Sunderland and Liverpool, but Noble had a much better game than most of his recent ones, and hopefully Behrami should be available as well. I expect Ilan to start on Saturday, and I imagine Diamanti will come in for Stanislaus. I don't think Spector should play leftback again though, and if Ilunga's mysterious injury still hasn't cleared up then Daprela should come in.

I also hope our supporters do actually do some supporting, rather than being negative, as I am sure it makes a difference. In the spirit of this election, I pledge to be positive throughout...

Pete May said...

Yes, good to hear the away fans get behind the team even when we looked doomed to defeat.
Our defence still has to improve. Hopefully Clarke is working on Da Costa and Upson to ensure we don't lose so many headers in the box and Ilunga would help if he's ever fit.
At least Da Costa offers a goal threat at the other end though.
We'll miss Parker and we also have to hope Carlton stays fit and maybe give Ilan a run.