Sunday, January 20

Always believe in Joey Cole

West Ham 1 Queen’s Park Rangers 1

A brave bloke with ‘QPR’ etched in his hair is sitting in Ken’s Café as my daughters and their dad take refuge from the snows of Green Street. We’ve spent the morning tobogganing. Wonder if the players were doing the same? Matt’s still wearing his lucky CCCP Russian top, while Nigel’s sat through three hours of Les Miserables with CQ, though perhaps he’s enjoyed his seventh viewing of We Will Rock You more. For once there’s a major system error on the chip delivery at Ken’s Café as Carol’s 30 minutes becomes 45 and we don’t receive our egg chips beans and sausages and bread and butter until 2.50pm. I reassure Lola and Nell that nothing will happen in the first five minutes while crossing my fingers and wolfing down chips.

By the time we enter the East Stand, a mazy dribble from Diame on the left has seen the ball fizz across the face of goal and then Reid connects with a corner and Nolan ‘s effort is cleared off the line. Good start for the Irons after last week’s debacle. Maroune Chamakh is in for Cole and playing in gloves. In Big Sam’s day he’d have happily played without a shirt on in a mere minus two degrees.

“Why’s no-one singing at Robert Green?” asks Nell of her former favourite player. The crowd taunted him enough in the away match, and we’re more concerned with Julio Cesar in goal, who is presumably ineligible to play on the Ides of March.

Taarabt tries to find the offside Remy a couple of times but on the third occasion it works. Reid and Tomkins step up too early and the £8 million Remy runs through to score with a confident first-time shot. It seems like we're Les Miserables

QPR look up for defending their lead and Hill and Nelson are blocking and clearing everything. Chamakh has one dribble and unconvincing penalty appeal but Rangers lead at the break.  Joe Cole threatens to unlock the defence a couple of times but WHU find the QPR back four unusually resolute. Harry Redknapp is clearly making a difference. We retreat to the bowels of the East Stand in our winter wear. Matt is wearing a red parka, which is frankly a bit Goooner-ish, while Fraser is in a black Kangol cap with goatee and black coat looking not unlike one of the current incarnation of Dexys.

West Ham come out with a lean and hungry look as they pepper Cesar’s goal after the break. Diame appears back to his pre-injury form (not too good Mo until after the window closes please) and Jarvis is getting in cross after cross from the left. Chamakh has a header saved by Cesar. Joe Cole fires a shot in that Cesar can only parry. In one almighty scramble Chamakh’s slightly weak header is saved on the line, Diame’s follow-up shot is blocked and Nolan heads the third effort just over. The crowd responds with an Upton Park roar.

Chamakh is replaced by Carlton Cole. The Moroccan looks a bit lightweight for an Allardyce team, though maybe he’s a confidence player and just needs a goal. But CC makes an immediate difference.

Finally another Jarvis cross is met by a great Carlton header, Cesar can only parry and Joe Cole shoots home the rebound before running to the corner like a joyous Dickensian urchin in the snow. Et tu, Joey?

We have QPR penned back now. M’Bia produces a fantastic block to deny a goalbound shot from Reid. Nolan fluffs one decent attack with a terrible pass and then Reid shoots into the side netting. Joe Cole rounds the keeper but his shot is cleared. We have 48 crosses according to Big Sam, and produce huge pressure in a second-half performance of some character, but still we can’t score. Twelve corners and 63 per cent of possession should have resulted in a win but at least this keeps the points ticking over. We look like a side with character at home at least, and if we keep playing like this we’ll surely keep above the pack at the bottom. And it was a good game for Robert Green to watch from the bench. 

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