Saturday, February 25

Drawing drawing West Ham

West Ham 0 Crystal Palace 0

“It all seems too promising, the sun’s shining, we’re all expecting a thrashing,” opines Matt with the eye of a seasoned West Ham watcher.

In Ken’s Café there’s time for a quick cup of tea and KitKat with Big Phill, Big Joe, Matt, Michael and Iain Dale, fresh from his Sullivan exclusive making the red-tops and the Guardian, before rushing for the 12.45 kick off. Though Michael does have time to lean across the counter and give Carol a kiss.

In the stadium Palace fire a shot wide in the first minute when they should have scored and it’s clear we’re out of sorts. Palace could be 3-0 up at half-time.

Super Robert Green makes two good saves from long range strikes by Martin and then from Jedinak and surpasses himself with a great tip over of Zaha’s deflected shot. We try to get down to the usual ten men. Tomkins gets a knock on the head goes off briefly and returns looking groggy.

Matt normally doesn’t swear until the 70th minute but he’s seen too much after half an hour here. “How can we not take a f***ing throw-in? Jesus! Vaz Te can’t control it! Take him off! Collison!! What’s Reid doing? He’s worse than Faubert!”

We know the real cause. Nigel has deserted his chums to take up a position in an executive box with one of his non-brawling MP mates. We remember him when he was just a poor kid in the East End of Brentwood. And he’s probably predicted a cricket score over white wine and canapés.

On the left Vaz Te looks like one of those flair players who are either brilliant or terrible, but nothing in between. Reid has a nightmare and gets everything wrong for the first 45 minutes, McCartney is being outpaced by Zaha, Tomkins isn’t mobile enough for midfield at home, Faubert is isolated out wide while Maynard has no service. Only Faye saves us with some great last-ditch challenges.

We improve a little in the second half as Cole replaces Faubert. Later O’Neil replaces the foundering Vaz Te and Baldock, on for Maynard, almost scores with his first shot, a low shot saved by Speroni’s legs. Cole scuffs another good chance wide. Our best chance comes from a great Cole layoff that Baldock strikes low again only to bring out another fine save from the Palace keeper.

McCartney plays Zaha quite well in the second half but Palace still look dangerous on the break and we agree that we should take the point as we’ve played so poorly. We might even be missing the captain’s influence of Nolan, dare it be said.

Despite some late corners and muffed crosses we never really look like scoring though it’s good the crowd stay with the Hammers even as we pump hopeful balls towards Cole. Collison can't pass it straight after a good first ten minutes. The Palace fans are more concerned with chanting about Millwall than us. Maybe these early kick-offs are just bad for our bio-rhythms. Might Ravel Morrison provide the creativity Noble and Tomkins lack in midfield? 

The whole side looks terribly jaded after Blackpool and afterwards Allardyce tries to put it down to tiredness, though as someone points out Birmingham have already played 43 games and aren’t tired at all. Yet we're so tired it's unbelievable. 

“The unbeaten run continues,” says Fraser as the whistle blows.

Best part of the day is a trip to the Newham Bookshop to buy Jeremy Nicholas’s Mr Moon Has Left the Stadium and then a trip to the Black Lion, where there’s Captain Bob from the cask in the back bar. And there's Phil Whelans the man quoted on the back of Jeremy's book.

Nigel and CQ arrive at the Black Lion, possibly by helicopter, and say the massage and grape-feeding are top notch in the corporate sections.

“At least we got in the box…” sighs Nigel. 

“Which is more than West Ham did,” comes my retort, as we prepare for the inevitable Southampton win at Watford and second place.


James Hunt said...

Weird game yesterday, never really got going and despite feeling optimistic on the way there, once we kicked off I felt it was going to be one of those frustrating afternoons.

Maynard was isolated in the first half although Carlton made a difference when he came on but the biggest problem was the ref who did us no favours by not sending anyone off.

Pete May said...

Agree about the ref! Cole made a difference and at least Baldock got in scoring positions. And we need Taylor's crosses too..

Phil Nichols said...

It did look like a tired performance. Poor old Noble looked dead on his feet. Interesting 'Screen Break' back page of todays Guardian Sport section. Mentioning how Noble is following the new penchant for hairstyles inspired by 1950's footballers. Still, you couldnt pigeon hole it as 'dodgy'. What about a new sub-category of players who need (ed) to be more imaginative about their barnets? I digress. Baldock should have done better with his 2 chances. I think Big Samuel is rapidly going to lose confidence in him. Although I am sad to say it, perhaps it was game when we needed Nolan.

Pete May said...

Yes, maybe Nolan gees up the side even though he does go missing sometimes, and he has a knack for scoring. Baldock just needs some confidence from a goal I think, he should have got the second. Maybe Nobes is following Scotty Parker in 1950s hairstyles? I'm all in favour of the 1950s manly handshake after a goal too rather than all this chicken clucking business....