Wednesday, September 28

Rolled over by the Tractor Boys

West Ham 0 Ipswich 1

“I am sure we will only get better and better,” announces Big Sam in the programme. At which point I can see Fortune being tied up in claret and blue ribbons and held hostage by Somalian pirates.

It’s down to Fraser, Lisa and myself tonight as Matt and Nigel are in Liverpool admiring Ed Balls' dribbling skills.

The game starts in a similar fashion to Saturday’s, with Green giving to make another fantastic reaction save to deny Chopra. Paul Jewell’s Ipswich play some fine passing football in the middle, orchestrated by the deep-lying Jimmy Bullard.

“Lee Bowyer is bound to score against us,” I tell Fraser with the ingrained pessimism of the Upton Park regular.

Bowyer has a lobbed shot tipped on to the post by Green and another volley from Leadbitter goes just over.

We never really get going. Baldock has a scuffed half-chance and Lansbury fires wide, but for all our work we fail to create chances and overhit crosses. Nolan is not scoring and generally we lack spark.

The Irons improve in a more evenly-contested second half. Bentley has a lot of the ball and strikes up a decent understanding with McCartney, but too few of his crosses find a man. A great low cross from O’Brien flies across the goal with no one at the back post. We come closest when Bentley’s cross is almost met by Nolan, only to be thwarted by a great defensive interception. Cole has one of those games where the ball deflects from his head at every angle but the right one. Tomkins’ legs give way with cramp as he tries to make a header in the opposition box.

The big screen announces 20 per cent off season tickets. “It will be 25 per cent in five minutes time,” suggests Lisa.

Baldock shows great space in one run down the wing and does some nice inter-linking with Carew, who has replaced Carlton. But the team desperately needs someone who can dribble past defences and play a through ball, a Berkovic or Benayoun figure.

Her Indoors texts to tell me that the dog has eaten the butter and we need more Earl Gray tea.

Maybe we’re missing Matt’s swearing at the ref, we muse as the second half drifts on. Green has to make a good save from Leadbitter’s free kick. At least the defence has looked solid with Faye having another good game. And a point is better than nothing.

Only it’s the 89th minute and Ipswich press. Jimmy Bullard’s corner hits the post and our old friend from Canning Town Lee Bowyer, fires home hard and low from the rebound. Another sodding late goal.

“One nil to the Tractor Boys!” holler the yokel heroes in the away end.

Substitute Jack Collison at least tests Stockdale before the whistle blows. Jeremy Nicholas plays Since You’ve Been Gone, possibly as a lament for Scott Parker

“I thought Big Sam said he’d identified the reason we keep losing at Upton Park,” says Lisa.

“Only he’s forgotten to tell the players,” I suggest.

We need a drink, possibly absinthe. “The Central will struggle with absinthe, they can’t even find real ale,” suggests Fraser.

So we visit the Black Lion for some Kew Gold in memory of absent Kew Gardens’ Iron Nigel. Some bloke called Tevez has refused to come on as a sub for Man City in something called the Champions League, claims Sky Sports News.

We would have gone top had we won, but this team is not good enough yet.

Allardyce has a point in that other sides have had longer to gel, but we have to improve at Palace. We’ve missed Taylor’s early season crosses and we desperately need a playmaker and Cole or Carew to start scoring regularly. It could be a long season.


matt said...

I am not sure how this squares with your claim it was "the best first-half in 10 years"?

Pete May said...

This was a thinly-veiled attempt to convince you Part-time Percys that you had missed a classic.
Though for the neutral it was quite a good end to end game in the second half - and at West Ham you always get to see a late goal.