Monday, April 1

Carroll's double crushes Albion

West Ham 3 West Bromwich Albion 1

There’s a huge pent-up demand for Ken’s Café’s inimitable cuisine after five weeks without a home game and the queue stretches outside into Green Street. It takes forever to order a cup of tea. Matt's found a table with the Tamworth Hammer and has been preparing for the stadium move propelling West Ham into the European elite by taking a mini-break to Madrid, while Nigel is Proudly telling us that he’s been to Borehamwood versus Hornchuch. He’s watching Joe Bonamassa at the Albert Hall later and hasn’t looked this happy since he last played Tattoo by Rory Gallagher.

Michael the Whovian remarks that after he met Doctor Who legends William Russell (Chesterton, dear boy) and Wendy Padbury (Zoe), West Ham won both games. Sadly he’s not been out to lunch with Jenna-Louise Coleman pre-match today, but hopes the return of Doctor Who to the screens later will prove a good omen. And there’s even a rare sighting of DC. We leave Michael still forlornly waiting for his fry-up as kick-off approaches.

Albion have the better of the early exchanges. Jussi almost spills a Dorrans shot and a goal is correctly disallowed after Ollson charges the keeper over the line. Jaaskelainen then makes a brilliant save from Lukaku’s deflected freekick, tipping the ball onto the post before it bounces back into his arms. Michael the Whovian arrives ten minutes into the game saying he doesn’t want to talk about his hastily-quaffed chips .

“We’re going to lose this,” announces Mystic Morris, “They’ve had a goal disallowed and hit the post already.”

So we immediately score. O’Neil takes a decent corner and Andy Carroll arrives with the velocity of a runaway Pendolino 360 Newcastle Express to beat Ollson and thump home an emphatic header. He runs to the corner, arms outstretched, celebrating the sort of goal he once scored regularly for Newcastle.

Vaz Te finds Diame who sends a piledriver just over the bar and Jarvis sends a header into the ground from a good position.

Noble is still out, but from the kick-of Gary O’Neil has performed really well as his replacement. The underrated midfielder finds Vaz Te in his own half. Vaz makes ground into the Albion area. “Vaz Te’s gonna mess it up again,” announces Mystic Morris. Instead he finds O’Neil who chips home a lovely dropping shot. Bizarrely O’Neil is playing like Johan Cruyff and looks much better in a central role. We wonder if Noble will get his place back.

“I’ll be happy for a dull second half, “ suggests Matt at half-time, which means we’ll have two goals, West Ham down to ten men and a comedy sending off.

Albion dominate the first ten minutes with Jones being stopped by Jussi and Lukaku turning O’Neil and firing a rocket just over the bar. But we come back into it through some storming breaks by Diame and good overlaps by Joey O’Brien. Vaz Te messes up several moves prompting Nigel to mutter, “Keith Vaz would be better!”

The crucial third goal arrives after 80 minutes when Collins takes a free kick and Andy Carroll instinctively volleys home as the ball drops over his shoulder. There’s a stunned silence before the ground realises it’s gone in. A great goal and Carroll is bullying the Albion defence and looking back to full sharpness. Let's hope we can sign him up.

There’s the inevitable wobble towards the end when Taylor and Reid manage to possibly push Lukaku and Dorrans scores the penalty. “Don’t look up where we are in the league table yet!” we plead with Nigel. There’s still time for the Vicar’s Son to swear a lot at Matt Taylor for bottling out of a challenge, but our anxiety is relived by a comedy sending off. Albion’s Mulumbu feels he should have got a free kick after a midfield tussle and so picks the ball up and kicks it at Gary O’Neil. A straight red card and a laughable dismissal.

An encouraging day. We’re on 36 points, almost safe, and Andy Carroll has given a timely nudge to the West Ham owners and Roy Hodgson.

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