Tuesday, April 13

We are staying up?

West Ham 1 Sunderland 0

You’d think there was an election on. Jo and Iain are Twittering and discussing Blackberry apps, politicos and spin doctors in Ken’s Café.

An uneasy thought occurs. What if David Sullivan had Twitter? Think of the instant abuse the side might receive. At least the Club Landlord’s been safely shut away in the build-up to today’s game and Nice Guy Gold is doing the programme column.

Meanwhile, Nigel’s musing on who will be the Independent’s new editor, while Carol informs us that Ken Livingstone says she does the best bacon sandwich in London to confirm that Ken’s is the political salon de nos jours.

It’s replica shirts and sunshine at a balmy Upton Park. Bubbles is played at the kick-off and then taken up acapella around the stadium. The spring sun seems to engender a mood of optimism and the weather is reminiscent of the day we beat Bolton to secure survival n the Tevez Season.

Except we don’t go 3-0 up this time. The sides appear evenly matched. Sunderland are a compact unit and hard to break down.

Early doors Malbranque’s corner whips across our six yard box and Bent lobs just over Green. Behrami plays a one-two with Ilan and fires in a low shot that Gordon spills.

The Sunderland keeper then handles outside the box after Noble has sprayed a pass out to Cole. Stanislas messes up the free kick.

But it’s encouraging, with Noble making a great tackle and finding Cole, whose pass to Ilan is blocked at the last by one Anton Ferdinand.

Da Costa fire up a long ball and Cole appears to challenge Gordon fairly. The Scottish custodian drops the ball and rugby tackles Cole. A penalty and a red card? No, the ref gives a free kick to the over-protected goalkeeper.

At half-time Hull and Burnley are drawing 1-1 and we still have it all to do. One goal might well win it.

“Ilan hasn’t done much,” muses Nigel.

“He’s the sort of player who doesn’t do much until he scores,” replies Mystic May.

Sure enough, 30 seconds later Da Costa fires in a high free kick, Cole nods it on and Ilan shows great sharpness to latch on to the ball and prod home before the Bobby Moore Stand and release an outpouring of relief

Oh no, we have something to lose. It’s gong to be a long last 39 minutes.

Cattermole fires just wide after a flowing Sunderland move. Then Jones comes on, which looks ominous, as Sunderland go with three strikers. Jones’ first move is to play in Bent, who stumbles in the box.

Bubbles echoes around the stadium, but you can feel the tension as the fans try to sing the lads home. We bring on Franco for Stanislas and withdraw Ilan to midfield, which appears a bizarre move.

“Best keep the cigars in their box,” I tell Fraser.

“I’ve got ten, just in case,” he replies.

We give a free kick away on the left side of our box after hesitation between Behrami and Spector, but Green makes a fine stop from Henderson’s shot.

Spector makes a great run up the left flank, only to fall over and, bizarrely, win a free kick on the edge of the box. The US defender then plays through Carlton Cole who fires narrowly wide on 90 minutes. Hull are 3-1 down. Bloody hell, this feels like Old Trafford again.

Faubert plays another long ball into their box, Franco controls with his arm and fires home. Midfield general Franco and most of the side rush away to celebrate in the corner, Guillermo does some embarrassing badge clasping and no-one seems to realise it’s been disallowed.

The Sunderland players want to take the free kick but the ref rules it’ would be unsporting, thank goodness.

But in the fourth minute of added time there’s still time for Sunderland to win a corner, Gordon to come up, and there’s one last mighty attempt to block and clear from the Irons before the whistle blows.

“We are staying up! I said we are staying up!”” comes the chant. Our first win since February 20. Hull have lost 4-1. Anton Ferdinand runs to the corner flag to applaud the West Ham fans. A great day.

“We never win with that Scott Parker in the side,” says Nigel.

An encouraging performance. There’s been crowd pleasing tackles and a willingness to play from Noble, some gutsy defending from Da Costa and co and Ilan is proving a match winner.

We retreat to the Central thinking that one more win might do it. Although in this season, you suspect there might be a few more twists yet.


matt said...

Luis Boa Morte played a half for the reserves last night. Perhaps his legendary goalscoring talents will play a part in the final couple of games...

Pete May said...

Maybe Luis is the man we really missed all season!

He should up our yellow cad rate a least.Presumably he still has a year left on his contract? I should think Sullivan and Gold will try to shift his wages pretty quickly...

Meanwhile the Mail claims we're after Jamie O'Hara.