Thursday, December 30

The changing men

West Ham 1 Everton 1

Thanks to the 5.30 kick off Ken’s Café is a twilight zone of customers wondering if they can stomach a fry-up at five. All I can face is a mug of tea from a Christmas Carol. Big Joe’s down from Shropshire, Mike’s been to Blackburn and back and Littler Jo has taken in Whitstable versus Ramsgate in the snow.

Inside the stadium Nigel, Matt and Fraser have returned from their festivities only to be bemused by Grant’s selection. It seems most of the team can’t play two games in three days. Cole is on the bench and Ben Haim, Gabbidon and Stanislas are omitted, while Kieran Dyer is presumably at Lourdes. So much for not changing a winning team.

Matt is happy though. In the spirit of Half Man half Biscuit all he wanted for Christmas was a Dukla Prague away kit, and his brother has sent him one over from Australia which he's now wearing.

We discuss the club’s threat of legal action against the Daily Mirror after the paper alleged that several stars could only train two days a week.

“Training for as much as two days a week? Now that is libellous!” quips Matt.

We start off reasonably brightly and young Freddie Sears impresses with his energy, winning a corner. From Parker’s corner Tim Howard saves from Tomkins’ header, Kovac hooks the ball back in to the box and it takes a fortunate spin off Hibbert and into the back of the net. One-nil.

“Our season could have turned. We never used o get lucky goals,” suggests Nigel, before being shouted down by a superstitious triumvirate not wanting to tempt providence.

Everton slowly come back into the game. Ilunga is taken off after 20 minutes and Spector comes on as left back. “He’s the worst left back I’ve ever seen!” says the Vicar’s Son.

True to form, Cahill crosses and Coleman ghosts past the missing Specs to slide the ball home.

In the second half Everton are the better team. That Fellaini can play a bit as well as make films and Matt suggests awarding him Eight and a Half out of ten.

We are fading after two festive games, whereas Everton are much fresher, without creating too many chances. Cole comes on for the limping Piquionne.

When we do get a free kick on the edge of the box, Obinna places the ball like he’s Tiger Woods. “Victor’s taking all that time just to blast it onto the wall…” sighs Matt. Sure enough, he blasts it into the wall. Victor has one of those games where he doesn’t play anywhere near the other striker and you’re not sure if he’s a striker or a winger.

But his one good moment comes with a sweeping ball out to Freddie Sears on the right. He plays a great first time ball low into the path of Carlton Cole who fluffs the chance with a weak left-footed shot wide of the target.

Green makes a good save from Fellaini’s header, the Scousers have a goal correctly disallowed and that’s about it. Boa looks knackered by the end, but let’s give Radoslav Kovac some credit, who at Fulham and again today has held things together, making some good interceptions alongside Parker.

We’d take a point against a good Everton side considering we have a writer and record producer as full backs in Faubert and Spector, plus numerous injuries.

At the finish Jeremy Nicholas plays Highway to Hell — let’s hope it’s not Hull next season. A decent festive return. We are unbeaten for three games and surely Wolves and Wigan will lose tomorrow against Liverpool and Arsenal.

Now all we have to do to escape the bottom three is win the next SOS game against Wolves on Saturday.

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