Sunday, January 22

We are top of the league (just)…

West Ham 2 Nottingham Forest 1

Matt says David Gold has been in Ken’s Café with a camera crew. Carol has declined to have her photo taken with him and remembers the times Gold was growing up as a young entrepreneur in Green Street. “The stories I could tell you about him…”

There’s a full house in Ken’s: Matt, Nigel, The Gav, Michael the Whovian, and Big Joe organizing Peterborough away tickets. My daughters Lola and Nell get in free today as they’re Academy members and announce the sausage, egg chips and beans plus a Coke and two slices up to par.

We’re strangely muted in the first half in front of 31,000 fans. Forest miss a good chance when Tudgay blazes over and have the better of the early stages. Collison forces a good save from Lee Camp and Diop pulls up with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Lansbury.

Faubert looks our most dangerous crosser but we achieve little. The best moment for Lola and Nell is when the ball gets lodged on the roof of the East Stand.

Right on 45 minutes we get a piece of luck. Lansbury’s cross hits Guy Moussi on the hand and Noble thumps home the penalty.

We play a little better in the second half, with Lansbury a more creative force than Diop.

Forest also threaten and look better than their league position suggests. Green produces a good save from a one-on-one chance and then the men in black have a corner cleared off the line.

After 63 minutes we get another penalty. No one at our end can see what it’s for, but the TV cameras later reveal a clear handball. Noble strokes this one home to seemingly make the game safe.

There’s a nice round of applause from the home fans for Forest’s Marlon Harewood when he’s taken off.

It would be nice to actually score from open play though. Camp makes a brilliant save from Lansbury’s snap volley. Mark Noble drags a shot wide. Jack Collison fails to shoot early enough, beats a couple of defenders and then allows Camp to pull off a fine tip-over. You can see why we need a new striker. Baldock is taken off and Carlton Cole heads wide when well placed and has a volley go out for a throw-in.

We’ve not played well and had some luck but at least we see the game out. Tomkins has been excellent at the back and wins the MOTM award, while Reid has played well too.

“I’m feeling quietly confident,” I tell Michael the Whovian in the third minute of added time. Immediately McGugan sweeps home a fine 20-yard volley for Forest.

Luckily the ref blows for full time almost immediately. Jeremy Nicholas plays Bubbles but there’s a bizarrely muted atmosphere for a team that has just reached the top of the league for the first time this season. It’s not been pretty, and we’ve relied on penalties and luck, but the side has at least shown a collective resolve to get a result when playing poorly.

As Allardyce says on The Football League Show, he’s shifted 22 players and brought in 12, so asking for flowing football at this stage may be a bit premature, though we do surely deserve better than our slow first half performance. Even though we need a new striker and winger we’re still top of the league, which has to be better than expected progress after the debacle of last season. Let’s hope Southampton drop points on Monday night.

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