Sunday, September 22

The pain of Baines

West Ham 2 Everton 3

In Ken’s Café Nigel is dispensing Independent articles about David James’ spell in Iceland and wondering, “if he can afjord it”. Matt’s brother Adam is over from Australia with his daughter Rhianna for a feast of strikerless football. Big Joe arrives from Shropshire, DC and the wee man make a fleeting appearance as the café empties and Carol says she’s looking forward to putting her feet up and watching Masterchef. Meanwhile Michael the Whovian is in Warsaw watching a classical music concert, as you do.

Matt and his brother arrive early in the ground to sample the pies, which at £3.50 are the same price as the programme, “and about as nutritious”.

We play well in the first half. Everton’s only effort on target is a fine snap shot from Mirallas that Jussi tips away. Maiga still looks lightweight and short of confidence, but Mark Noble has a great half, Morrison shows tidy feet, Diame is busy on the right and Jarvis causes problems. It’s a much better performance than against Stoke and we look up for it.

West Ham take the lead on 31 minutes when Jarvis makes a good run inside on the left, eventually finding Morrison who shoots in after a heavy deflection off Jagielka. We pressure Everton’s midfield and have the better of the half. The defence plays with great spirit, epitomised by a tremendous recovery and saving tackle from O’Brien.

There are reports of poor microphone technique from Jeremy Nicholas’s replacement when he interviews Dean Ashton a half-time, but no other worries apart from the fact that CQ has forgotten her lucky aniseed balls (though does dispense healthy bananas) and Matt is wearing his lucky Dukla Prague away shirt, the one that bought us such good fortune in the Avram Grant season.

It all changes in the second half as Martinez brings on McCarthy and Lukaku for Everton. Lukaku causes problems from the start as Everton dominate and the ball fizzes around our box and Reid makes a great tackle to cover for a Collins error.

Collins brings down Barkley on the edge of the box, in a similar position to that from where Pennant scored for Stoke. Leyton Baines duly fires a world-class free kick into the top corner before running to the Scousers in the away section.

Allardyce reacts by bringing on Petric for Maiga and he immediately does more than Maiga in the whole game, nearly causing a chance with his closing down and then winning the ball back when it seems to be going off for a goal kick, finding Nolan who is bought down. Penalty! Mark Noble fires home. Suddenly it feels like we’re going to gain a spirited win. CQ updates Michael by text and he’ll be dancing the streets of Warsaw.

“From Stamford Bridge to Upton Park, Stick your blue flag up your arse!” roars the Bobby Moore Stand. Matt has to explain to his niece Rhianna that it is in fact, “stick your blue flag up your vase”.

Only then Noble brings down Barkley on the edge of the box and having already been booked for an earlier pull he’s off after 83 minutes. Still, it’s not as if Baines will pull out another world-class finish. Ah, he does, pinging it in off the other post this time.

2-1 UP 3-2 DOWN
“At least we’re the only team in Europe not to concede a goal from open play this season,” remarks Mystic Matt. Down to ten men we have to respect the point, but Big Sam has replaced Jarvis, our main outlet with Vaz Te, and two minutes later Lukaku finds Mirallas on the right of the box and sprints for the return, bravely heading home and getting clattered by O’Brien in the process. There goers the European record. I find myself swearing in front of minors, though it’s enough to test the patience of two Vicar’s Sons.

At least Morrison still wants the ball when we’re 3-2 down and looks like he’ll be quite a player. But with ten men it’s too much to claw back the game and we slump to another defeat. Though you have to say the performance was much better and if we can keep Petric in the side and not suffer any more stupendous free kicks, we might surely pick up some points. Everton look a good side and have traded well with the signings of Lukaku, Barry and McCarthy. 

The Vicars’ Sons leave for autographs so it’s just Fraser and myself marching to the Black Lion where we respect the pints of Doombar and Broadside. We can at least reflect on a great game after the Southampton tedium. Though if only we’d managed to get Lukaku on loan our season might be looking much more hopeful.

PLAYER RATINGS: Jaaskelainen 7, O’Brien 7, Rat 6, Reid 8, Collins 7, Nolan 6, Diame 6, Noble 8, Morrison 8, Jarvis 7, Maiga 4.


Lisa said...

Rhianna, the Vicar's Granddaughter, secured 14 autographs, three photos with players and a quick chat with James Collins.
Joe Cole also revealed he should be back for the Hull game...

Pete May said...

The girl done good! Who were the players she got pics with? Hope Matt got to tell the referee what a great job they do…

Lisa said...

She got photos with Momo Diame, Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble.
No sign of the refs - or Big Sam.