Sunday, November 3

Respecting the point (again)

West Ham 0 Aston Villa 0

Three lines down today, so end up taking a circuitous route to Barking on the Overground, though did manage to get some Palace away tickets at 9am. Strangely, my family have chosen to see The Nutcracker on Ice at the London Palladium, a show about the skating career of Julian Dicks, rather than visit WHU.

At the Newham Bookshop signed Harry Redknapp books and Morrissey’s Autobiography stand by Vivian’s door as I peruse the shelves. Matt, Nigel and Michael the Whovian are in Ken’s CafĂ© supping tea, as Matt says Petric injured himself warming up for the reserves, which sounds about right.  We arrive at the ground just in time to hear “Dirty northern bastards!” aimed at the Villa fans, as they have apparently broken the minute’s silence for the war dead.

Villa are playing in a lime green day-glow kit that looks like Her Indoor’s fluorescent cycling jacket, while their fans sing more “Kumbaya My Lords” than in the average evangelical church. Collison is in for Diame (is Mo injured?) and we persevere with out strikerless formation.

West Ham have a couple of scares early on, as a simple through ball sees Weimann get the wrong side of Tomkins and only a fine Jaaskelainen block prevents a goal. Then from a West Ham corner Villa break again and Weimann is heading towards goal pursued by Morrison. There’s a tussle on the edge of the box and Morrison’s arms clearly touch Weimann, but the ref rules it’s a fair challenge. Had it been a free kick Morrison would have been off, though it’s a sign of his growing maturity that he was the last man. 

West Ham have their moments too. Jarvis weaves across the front of the back four and has a shot saved by Guzan, and  Collison shoots into the side netting. Reid has another great game and Morrison displays easy mastery of the ball in midfield. Though the Vicar’s Son is still agitated by half-time.

Nigel dispenses CQ’s lucky aniseed balls at the break in the hope that they might facilitate a breakthrough. We discuss the death of Lou Reed, whom Fraser met twice, no doubt learning that I’m Waiting for My Man was written about Big Sam’s hopes that Andy Carroll might one day get fit.

Jarvis pulls back crosses to midfielders who aren’t there and Rat aims crosses towards that looming Carroll-shaped hole. We finally see Carlton Cole on after 62 minutes, along with Joe Cole, increasing our Cole factor by 200 per cent. Carlton looks rusty but does win a couple of headers and gives a focus to our attacks.

It’s Villa who nearly win it though. Benteke beats Tomkins to thump a header against the bar and then produces another fine tip around the post from Jussi.

Best chance of the game falls to Kevin Nolan after Downing’s clever reverse pass. But instead of shooting across goal he fires into the side netting and beats the ground in frustration. Joe Cole has looked way off the pace, but at least produces a great turn to force a save from Guzan.

We end up respecting the point and Big Sam says our game is only lacking a goal or two, which, call me old fashioned, I always thought was quite important. But at least it stems three home losses in a row and takes us up a place. Reid and Morrison were our best players today, Downing played pretty well too. Though we are currently the only team ever to try and stay in the Premier League without a striker. Rather like the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce in Dickens’ Bleak House, we are expecting a judgement on Mr Carroll any day soon.

We retreat to the Boleyn where the bar staff have green skin for Halloween (unless they normally look like that?) and a crush at the bar results in London Pride from a hand pump, two pints of Carlsberg and a Becks. Nigel admires the interiors and Come on Eileen ends the day on a more satisfying note. Five clean sheets in ten games is a decent record, and we might have a half-decent side if we ever find a fit striker.

MATCH RATINGS: Jaaskelainen 8, Demel 6, Rat 7, Reid 8, Tomkins 6, Downing 7, Morrison 8, Noble 7, Collison 6, Nolan 5, Jarvis 6. 


Phil Nichols said...

I had Noble down as man of the match! Thought Morrison was tidy, but didn't pose much of a threat. Collison did pretty well and certainly looked fitter. Reid was excellent - back to his best. As usual with Nolan, if he's not scoring why is he there? Carroll really can't come back soon enough......

More importantly, just who is the chap who has replaced Jeremy Nicholas? He seems to use his old lines, but without much (any) hutzpah. I think we need to be told.

Pete May said...

Yes Phil, maybe I should have given Noble a 7 out of ten, thinking about it. Impressed by Morrison's control, though with three centre backs he was never likely to run through like at Spurs. Agree about Jeremy Nicholas. Whoever has replaced him is cheaper and doesn't deliver Mr Moon in anything like the she manner…

Glenn said...

Dafoe's coming back then... Probably read the argument on your blog particularly when Anonymous said Spurs were nothing!

Pete May said...

Yep Glenn, I think that that tipped to in our favour and he now loves West Ham again!