Sunday, November 4

We hold the Champions...

West Ham 0 Man City 0

It's a quick dash from signing of The Joy of Essex at the Newham Bookshop — bit of a rush on the book at 5.20, literary Irons like to leave it late though Matt has been in early to brush up on Icelandic fiction and it's nice to meet John who reads this blog and buys a book. Then it's into the East Stand to see Carlos Tevez do his crossed hammers gesture. "He wants to come home!" suggests the Bobby Moore Stand. Fraser, Nigel, CQ, Michael and Matt are all present, reporting that Carol in Ken's Cafe is more irascible than usual over the 5.30 kick-off time, though Michael the Whovian has boosted her profits with a big breakfast as an early dinner.

There's a proper atmosphere under the lights too. We have the ball in the net early on as clucking Kevin Nolan swivels brilliantly to volley in Noble's free kick, only for the goal to be wrongly disallowed for offside. It's great technique to volley a ball coming from behind him too. City have a forward line of Dzeko, Tevez and Balotelli, which is ominous, but Collins blocks and the underrated Reid intervenes at vital times and WHU hold them well.

Diame shots just over and Carroll turns to put a left foot shot just wide. Balotelli volleys Nasri's free kick over when he should have headed it, and puts an overhead kick wide. He gets all petulant when he puts in a bad cross and plays with the sulky demeanour of a Gallagher brother at a family knees-up.

"We love Carlos more than you!" taunt the West Ham fans, along with "Where were you you when you were shit?" which is a little unfair as City attracted 30,000 in League One. West Ham's best move comes when Noble plays a great ball wide to Jarvis on the left. His perfect cross is met on the full volley by Yossi Benayoun and Hart tips it over, only for the ref to not even give a corner.

CQ produces a bag of aniseed balls at half time - not the first time we've  discussed a load of balls at Upton Park, but they prove lucky for the second half. City really come at the Irons in the second half. Apart from an overhead kick from Carroll and a tame header wide from Nolan, it's all City bombardment. Diame looks half-fit and is subbed and Nolan has a quiet game, but everyone else plays really well.

Benayoun launches into tackles, passes sensibly and works ferociously hard, while McCartney and O'Brien show determination at the back, Noble has a fine match and Ginger Collins is great too, subduing a strike force worth £150 million, before going off injured late on. Jussi makes a good low save from substitute Aguero. Even with Spence, O'Neil and Cole on we still survive, although Nigel counting counting down the seconds of added time surely tempts fate.

We hold on for a fine point, followed by dodgy karoake from a Mancunian in the Central (is it Liam or Noel?), where they're playing the game over again on some Middle Eastern channel. A point against the Champions from a newly promoted side is progress.

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