Sunday, November 27

We need to talk about Kevin's goal

West Ham 3 Derby County 1

To eat or not to eat? My daughters have free Academy member tickets for the game, so we solve the iffy kick-off time eating dilemma by purchasing two plates of chips, some bread and butter and a cheeseburger from Ken’s Cafe. Nigel, Matt and Big Joe are all there, as we learn that Southampton have lost. Nigel has just knocked off his 91st league ground and claims that “only a nuclear holocaust” will prevent him visiting Barnsley on April 7 and completing his set of all 92.

Inside Upton Park, after a bright start West Ham’s progress is hampered when the lively Baldock goes off with an injured hamstring, to be replaced by Piquionne after 20 minutes.

Our first real shot comes after 30 minutes when Fielding fails to hold Collison’s shot and Faubert just fails to get to the rebound. But Derby take the lead on 34 minutes. Ward dispossesses Collison on the half way line and the ball is played through to Priskin, The otherwise excellent Tomkins loses his man and the on-loan striker finishes crisply. 

Ten-year-old Nell contents herself by writing “stinky Derby” in her programme.

We’re wondering what the anonymous Nolan is doing as WHU continue to struggle, though the skipper does come to life to produce a low cross. Matt says his mate, who’s a Bolton fan, says he “a real Match of the Day player” player who will always make the highlights but not have done much else.

Thankfully we look livened up by the goal and when a free kick is cleared O’Brien crosses first time and Carlton Cole gets a good head on it to send the ball past a despairing defender on the line.

Half-time is spent eating isotonic Jaffa Cakes. We’re a different team in the second half as we revert to 4-3-3. Faubert plays Piquionne through with a great ball. Freddie shows great control to cushion it and shoot but Fielding makes a fine stop. The floodlights help as the crowd get behind the team with Bubbles and the Claret and Blue Army chant.

Mystic Morris and Mystic Matt are just saying what does Nolan contribute and why does he never shoot first-time as Collison lobs the ball back to him on the edge of the box. Nolan waits for the ball to drop and strikes an exquisite volley into the bottom corner. Guess that’s what we bought him for. It’s a great goal, his fifth of the season, and will hopefully increase Nolan’s confidence in home games.

We start to really dominate and play some good football on the ground. Lola looks up from her copy of Harry Potter to observe a series of corners. Faubert wins the ball on the half way line plays the ball into Collison whose first time ball releases Piquionne only for the striker to be pulled down at the edge of the box. Penalty. Mark Noble does the rest.

It’s good to see Piquionne gaining in belief too and he nearly scores a fourth when his header is cleared off the line.

Derby have long since gone home. For the five minutes of stoppage time we play keep-ball to cries of “Ole!” from the crowd. Makes a change from the normal anxiety. Gustave Faubert even gets Man of the Match instead of Scott Parker. We’re now two points behind Southampton.

“Couldn’t we always play in the Championship?” asks 13-year-old Lola, still shocked by witnessing three home wins this season.

Big Sam has clearly been irked by some the criticism he's received this season. He uses the win to tell the BBC that West Ham  played some fine football to nail "all this Allardyce long ball rubbish” and give "a proper performance getting the ball down and playing as we have done all season".

As the Newham Bookshop is shut at this late hour we retreat to Westfield and W H Smith where Lola gets Startled by His Furry Shorts by Louise Rennison to celebrate. This might be tempting fate terribly, but if we win at Middlesbrough and Saints lose on Tuesday we could go top… 


Phil Nichols said...

It was yet another weird match. As poor a first half performance as Ive seen all season. Second half was obviously much better, but come on Derby, are a really, really poor side. We won... But there was no atmosphere, empty seats, we just literally battered them into submission. We're 2nd but it all seems so, so, how can I put it? Dull. Solid performances all round. I'd have gone for Tomkins as MOTM. I'll perk up I'm sure......Maybe its the dark evenings.

matt said...

On the same day after our last relegation we were ninth, after a draw at Wimbledon, and had not won in nine games. With the likes of Mellor, Nowland, Quinn, Deane and Horlock in the team. Think we are in better shape now.

Pete May said...

Glass half full, Phil? Yes, Derby did look poor, but I remember the likes of Zamora, Reo-Coker, Ferdinand, Harewood, Mullins and co struggling against the likes of Crewe, before having a fine season in the Premier League.
At least we are beating average teams now.
We're always going to have empty seats for TV games in this league, but thought the atmosphere was better than usual in the second half. As Matt said, I think fielding Adam Nowland and 'Gerd' Mellor was the low point of recent seasons..

Phil Nichols said...

All fair comment. I promise to lighten up. Seeing Malcy Mackay trotting out in 2003-04 always seemed something of a nadir for me.

matt said...

Mackay, yes I had forgotten him. Looks like he is shaping up to be a much better manager than player.

Also, Andy Melville, signed just after his legs had gone.