Monday, January 19

London 3 Hull 0

Big Andy salutes the East Stand…
West Ham 3 Hull City 0

Inside Ken’s Café Michael the Whovian is clad in black to mark the departure of his hero Ricardo Vaz Te. He's so traumatised he almost doesn't finish his big breakfast. The 1.30pm kick-off means there’s a big rush to eat before kick-off and I find myself comprehensively out-tactic-ed by Matt, who though ordering chips and beans only, rather than my egg, chips and beans, finds himself bumped 20 places up Carol’s ticket system.

Outside the East Stand we're asked by stewards if we have any deodorants in our bags; whereas once it would have been Stanley knives. Fraser joins us in the stadium and Nigel arrives five minutes late, still in shock at missing a mere 21 goals on Tuesday night. West Ham look sluggish in the first half, with Song and Noble looking way off the pace, though Valencia impresses with his work rate. Is it fatigue from the 120 minutes on Tuesday night? Our passing is way off beam.

Hull could score three times. The dangerous Aluko crosses for Elmohamady to shoot wide from a very presentable chance. Aluko spins away from Collins and Tomkins only to hesitate and be prevented from scoring by a great Collins tackle. Then Aluko gets though again, but bizarrely elects to pass rather than shoot. West Ham can only offer a dangerous cross from Andy Carroll, a Tomkins header over the bar from a corner and a looping Valencia header that is tipped on to the bar.

At half-time Matt asks what’s Enner Valencia done this season that no other West Ham player has done? The answer is score in all three of West Ham’s kits. The boy’s on fire in the trivia stakes. Nigel asks how do you identify the sex of an ant? Answer: “If it floats in water it’s a bouy-ant.” When I announce that I’m going to suck a Fishermen’s Friend, he suggests trying a cough lozenge instead. A comedy contract from Big Joe surely awaits.

West Ham return to the pitch, presumably having had a rollicking from Big Sam. Winston Reid is on for Collins and we look much better with Downing at the tip of the diamond rather than out wide, though we’re helped by Hull losing Chester and Bruce to injury. Nolan shows good technique to fire a volley narrowly over the bar from Downing’s cross.

We take the lead on 49 minutes as Valencia unleashes a dipping shot from the edge of the box. McGregor can only parry it into the danger area, Curtis Davies is slow to react and Andy Carroll is alert enough to prod home his fifth goal of the season before running into the arms of the faithful in the Bobby Moore Stand.

Then the West Ham scoreboard stops working so we have no idea how long is actually left. Or is it some sort of tribute to mark the success of the film The Theory of Everything, suggesting that all time is relative when Hull are in danger of being swallowed by a black hole? We go close again as Valencia wastefully shoots into the side netting after a terrible Dawson pass. 

Hull's defence is finding Enner's speed difficult to contain. On 69 minutes it’s settled as Song finds Valencia who controls quickly and has the vision to find substitute Amalfitano. Morgan dinks a lovely finish over the keeper. Two minutes later we score again as Song plays a through ball from the half way line and Downing pierces a statuesque defence to finish confidently.

Adrian has to make one good save but the rest of the game is Fancy Dan stuff as West Ham pass it around at last with even the odd “ole!” After another good ball from Downing, Nolan hits the bar from an acute angle and Andy Carroll almost prods home another chance home. Even Joey O’Brien gets a run-out. Another boost for the Irons is that Matt has stayed positive throughout the game, even encouraging Kevin Nolan.

Three-nil will do us and a much better second half. Thirty six points. We’re almost safe! And a big contrast to the game against Hull last season. Our run of six games without a victory (if you discount penalties) has ended and now comes the chance to cement a place in the top eight.

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 6; Jenkinson 6, Tomkins 5 (O’Brien 5), Collins 6 (Reid 6), Cresswell 6; Song 6, Noble 5 (Amalfitano 7), Nolan 6, Downing 7; Valencia 8, Carroll 7.

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