Wednesday, January 14

We're on the march with Adrian's Army!

West Ham 2 Everton 2 (FA CUP) (West Ham win 9-8 on penalties)

The East Stand faithful enjoy a 21-goal thriller
Strange goings on at Upton Park. There’s a retro 1991 programme cover, based on the fact this was the year when we last played Everton at home in the FA Cup. It’s nice to see the return of pen-pictures beneath each player, where Mark Noble “can tackle, create and pass with aplomb” and Carl Jenkinson has “searing pace”. Needs a few more references to custodians and stoppers though.

The other shock is that we’re playing in our iffy third choice purple and gold kit, which is a bit Towie. Are we really going to wear this in all our FA Cup ties? Lucky we didn’t leave the kit choice to Andy Carroll though, otherwise we might have been playing in pink.

It’s down to Matt, Lisa, Fraser and myself as the Everton fans sing “Shall we fill a stand for you?” Nigel’s preparing to fly to the US and Michael the Whovian is away adjusting his chameleon circuit, hoping to materialise in Braintree. The 25,000 fans present make a lot of noise, though we could do without the retro fan in front of us constantly questioning Leighton Baines’ sexuality. 

Everton look a more confident side than at Goodison and the first half ends goalless. The best chance comes when Valencia does well to nick the ball off Stones but waits a second too long allowing Robles to block his shot. Andy Carroll heads the rebound against the post but is flagged offside from the second phase.

It all kicks off in the second half. West Ham take the lead on 51 minutes with a classy goal. Andy Carroll plays a decent through ball to Valencia. Enner outpaces Stones and expertly clips the ball past Robles and into the corner. That goal will give him the confidence boost he needs and it’s the first time Carroll and Valencia have really looked like a partnership.

It gets better as Everton’s McGeady is sent off after 56 minutes for a second yellow after clattering Noble. Though this is West Ham. “It’s always difficult playing against ten men…” we mutter. Mirallas comes on for Besic and makes a huge difference with his direct runs at the WHU defence. Lukaku crosses and Tomkins has to make a fantastic block to deny Mirallas. Are we going to lose the lead for the fourth game in a row?

The Hammers almost make it two as Collins gets a thumping header in from a corner, only for Robles to tip it over. “There’s only one Ginger Pele!” chants the Bobby Moore Stand.

Song, still weak after a virus, is replaced by Nolan. Matt vows to be positive, shouting “unlucky Kevin!” when his pass doesn’t come off. But can his positivity last?

We have a bad feeling as Collins gives away a free kick on the edge of the box after 82 minutes. Baines normally scores these, but this time it’s Mirallas who curls a brilliant swerving free kick into the corner. “We shall not be moved!” sing the Sixties revivalists in the away end. You could perhaps question Adrian’s positioning, but it looks an unstoppable effort to me.

West Ham respond and are a little unlucky not to win it at the end. Valencia wins a foul on the edge of the box and Mark Noble’s free kick is saved at his near post by Robles. Then Kevin Nolan gets in a superb overhead kick that Robles tips over with a brilliant save.

So it’s extra time. Jenkinson is flagging on the right and it’s from there that Everton score a second. Mirallas weaves past Nolan, Jenkinson and Collins and provides Lukaku — who always scores against us— with a tap in.

Carroll’s header is blocked and Collins slices over the bar, but Matt never loses faith, apart from a five-minute Malcolm Tucker-esque rant at Jenkinson and Big Sam’s stupid substitutions. With nine minutes left Big Sam makes another dodgy substitution, taking off Collins for Carlton Cole and playing three at the back and three up front. Mystic Massey and Mystic May agree that Carlton probably won’t get a touch as Everton always win at Upton Park.

Two minutes later West Ham win a corner. Downing’s corner finds the head of Tomkins who heads back across goal for Carlton to prod home. What a substitution! Always believe in CC…

There’s still more drama late on. Tomkins miskicks a clearance and Lukaku is allowed to run at the defence and poke just wide when he looked certain to score. There’s then a bizarre fracas between Noble and Tomkins as the pair argue over the chance and Nolan and the ref step in. Still, maybe a good sign if we want to win that much.

Back come the Hammers as Cole finds Amalfitano in the box but he shoots too close to Robles who parries. Amalfitano then plays a great ball through to Valencia who advances on goal but rather than shooting tries to find Carlton Cole with the ball being poked wide after another almighty scramble. And then it’s over and penalties. Phew.

It’s not in doubt that Mirallas will score the first penalty but Noble equalises. Adrian uses some gamesmanship on Naismith, whispering something in his ear and then superbly tips his penalty over the bar. Nolan, Carroll and Creswell all convert and at 4-4 it’s left to Stewart Downing to win it for the Irons. Except his effort is saved by Robles. It’s low and in the corner but not powerful enough. Sod it. So now it’s sudden death. Everyone scores with Cole, Valencia and Amalfitano scoring for the Hammers.

As Everton have had a player sent off we’ve only been allowed ten penalty takers and Tomkins has dropped out, so it’s Robles versus Adrian. The Everton keeper takes a strange wobbly run-up and thumps the ball against the bar, to massive cheers from the home fans.

Adrian walks up to the spot and in a masterstroke of psychology, throws his gloves to the ground, implying he won’t be needing them after this. He coolly dispatches the ball into the corner with, as the retro programme might say, some aplomb. The Boleyn Stadium goes mental. Being the self-effacing sort of character he is, Adrian runs to the photographers and performs an epic knee-slide before being mobbed by the other players. Never in doubt!

We’ve never lost when Adrian has scored. 9-8 on penalties. We text Nigel to tell him that he’s only missed 21 goals…

We retreat to the Central, where Bubbles is on the PA, for a late pint of IPA. On the District line home there’s a spontaneous chorus of Bubbles. What a cup-tie. Could our name be on a Post-It note sticking precariously to the FA Cup?

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


matt said...

Typical of you journos - relentlessly positive for 209 minutes of the 210 this Cup Tie lasted - and for all of the penalty shoot-out - and you focus on my very mild criticism. We are going to win the Cup, and as for Hull, in the relegation zone and with no strikers...What could possibly go wrong?

Pete May said...

You were clearly misquoted. It was very mild criticism of Jenkinson indeed, though they did hear it in the Alpari!