Monday, February 9

West Ham robbed Blind by long-ball merchants

Our new sponsor in situ 
West Ham 1 Manchester United 1

Plenty of time to use up before the strange 4.15pm kick-off. In the Newham Bookshop Vivien tells me that Russell Brand has finally signed her copies of Revolution and Brian Williams is signing Nearly Reach the Sky on Feb 28. Then it’s on to Ken’s CafĂ©, where after dispensing the Spurs away tickets the talk turns to theatre as Matt, sleepless after working the night shift, and Michael the Whovian discuss various pieces of brilliant theatre. Nigel then recalls a pretentious show on paper folding at the Guggenheim – which eventually folded. Time was when we just discussed burgers and beer before a match.

As we leave DC arrives with his wee men and Big Joe and Big Phill (sporting a mighty new moustache for his role in The Producers) gladhand us in Green Street. Meanwhile Fraser’s been asked to write some Western dialogue in his creative writing class, which presumably ends up in a shoot out just to wind up Nigel, who missed the Everton game.

There’s an initial scare when Song passes the ball across his own box and United almost score, but from then on West Ham are the dominant side and with Valencia and Sakho working the channels it’s much more like the form that we showed against Manchester City and Liverpool. Valencia gets in a good shot from the edge of the box that De Gea does well to tip past the post. A couple of minutes later the Mancs’ keeper makes another fine save to tip over the bar from Valencia’s volley. His best save is an instinctive stop with his foot from Tomkins’ downward header.

Kouyate looks really assured playing at centre back — is this his best position? — and Tomkins is excellent alongside him, despite receiving an elbow in the face from Van Persie. On another day this might have seen the United man sent off. Strange that Mark Clattenberg takes no action as he’s booked virtually every other player on the pitch.

United’s only effort is a long distance shot from Di Maria, comfortably held by Adrian. When Wayne Rooney takes a rare United corner he doesn’t look too impressed by the Bobby Moore Stand’s chant of “He’s just a fat granny shagger!”

After the interval West Ham take a deserved lead. Noble’s free kick causes confusion in the box and Kouyate juggles the ball twice before turning to volley home. In real time we’re not aware just how skilful it was; but viewed on TV it’s a sublime goal. One-nil to the Cockney Boys.

That goal seems to sting United into action as Van Persie volleys straight at Adrian. Then Valencia runs into Jones when he could have found Sakho in the box. They’re Manchester United they don’t play on the floor… Fellaini comes on and Phil Jones and co pump an endless succession of long balls at the big Belgian. The disappointing Falcao finds Van Persie who shoots against the feet of Adrian.

Jarvis comes on and gets in a great cross that for once finds his man in Mark Noble. But Nobes’ shot is a fraction too high allowing De Gea to make another fine stop and then save from Nolan’s second attempt. United’s best chance falls to Falcao who is played in but pokes past the post. Is it going to our first win against United since 2007? It looks likely when we move into four minutes of added time.

United are given a free kick on the edge of the box but mess it up. It looks like we’ve done it until yet another long ball is lobbed into the box. Jenkinson, being pushed by Fellaini, heads across goal and Daley Blind lashes home a fine finish into the corner to speak delirious celebrations among the away fans, ecstatic at having gained an away point at one of the big eight. Sod it.

There’s still time for Shaw to get red-carded for a second yellow but we’ve played really well. We retreat to the Central for a pint of IPA and Michael shows us his latest purchases from the West Ham shop sale, though his WHU dog bowl has yet to be christened. It’s a sign of progress that we’re disappointed with a point against Man United despite lacking Collins, Reid and Carroll. But if we continue to play like this then we still have hope of resurrecting that “Barcelona we’re coming for you!” chant.

TEAM RATINGS: Adrian 7; Jenkinson 7, Tomkins 8, Kouyate 8, Cresswell 7; Nolan 6, Noble 7, Song 7, Downing 6; Sakho 7, Valencia 7 (Jarvis 6).

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