Wednesday, August 27

Concentrating on the league…

The team that meets in cafes
West Ham 1 Sheffield United 1 (Capital One Cup)

Tevez masks are on sale in Green Street and in Ken’s Café Matt and Lisa announce that 15-year-old Reece Oxford is on the bench. Nigel’s discovered the East Stand is sold out and is having to slum it in Big Joe’s box, though he’s pleased to find that in the programme notes it’s claimed that Carlton Cole has been given “an 18-year contract.” Meanwhile Fraser has signed up for midweek evening classes and looks likely to miss our epic Capital One Cup run. Outside there’s a huge queue for pay-on-the-day tickets stretching into Green Street because the club hasn’t got enough staff on duty.

It’s a WHU side that has never played together before, with full debuts for Valencia, Sakho, Poyet and Burke. Ravel Morrison is out of the slammer and in the side, playing in gloves. The first half isn’t too bad. Valencia looks quite lively as he has a snap shot saved and Morrison has a free kick saved. Howard then makes a great save from the promising Reece Burke as a corner comes in. The lively Diame plays a fine ball in to Valencia, but the £12million striker fires straight at the United keeper.

West Ham take the lead on 40 minutes. Reece Burke pumps in a high centre and Sakho flicks a clever back header into the net.

Sheffield look workmanlike but no more, and it seems in the second half we’re opting for a routine victory. But then disaster strikes. A mundane centre is sliced by Winston Reid and the ball trickles past the wrong-footed Jaaskelainen. It’s United’s first shot on target.

It’s desperation time now. Morrison looks off the pace because he isn’t match fit and Vaz Te doesn’t do enough for a senior player. Poyet is reasonably solid in midfield though. Diame nearly plays in Valencia while substitute Downing produces a great save from Howard with a long-range shot. But the game moves into extra time. Our other sub Zarate gets involved, but always runs into trouble, prompting Nigel to wonder if he’s the new David Di Michele.

At least we’re getting good value for our ten quid. The Blades have one shot on target in extra time though sub Campbell-Ryce causes a few problems, while for WHU Noble comes on for Morrison. We force numerous corners, but every shot is blocked. And so it goes to penalties. We think the last time we saw a shoot-out was the 2006 FA Cup Final, which didn’t go too well. Perhaps out takers should wear Tevez masks to give West Ham a psychological advantage.

Noble scores confidently with the first penalty, but United respond with a penalty into the top corner. Downing almost fluffs his penalty,  Zarate produces a good finish and then young Diego Poyet has the courage to step up and send the keeper the wrong way (though surely Diame should have taken one?). At 4-4 Valencia steps up and fires to the left of the keeper, but it’s a nice height and Howard saves. Doyle shows no nerves as he sends United through.

’There goes our Cup Final breakfast at Nigel’s,” I muse.

“At least we don’t have to get to the semi-final and lose 9-0 on aggregate,” suggests Matt.

The only good thing about the evening is that the Central now has Greene King IPA on draught, though it’s delivered by gas and not a hand pump. Still, it’s progress. We haven’t played particularly well or particularly badly, but it’s still our best chance of Wembley gone. Guess we’ll have to settle for just one Cup this year then…

PLAYER RATINGS: Jaaskelainen 5, Demel 6, Reece 6, Reid 5, Potts 5; Diame 6, Poyet 6, Morrison 5 (Noble 6), Vaz Te 5 (Zarate 6), Valencia 5,  Sakho 6 (Downing 6).


mj said...

Was it just me, after the pub, or were large parts of that game played at half pace? Even extra time?

Pete May said...

Looked like it and even worse yesterday…