West Ham musings by Pete May, author of Hammers in the Heart, West Ham:Irons in the Soul, Flying So High:West Ham's Cup Finals and Goodbye to Boleyn
Monday, March 23
Diafra Sakho: He scores when he wants!
West Ham 1 Sunderland 0
It’s an early dinner in Ken’s Café with my no-longer kids
for a quid daughter Lola. Michael the Renaissance Man and Matt discuss why we
shouldn’t have video evidence in games, which seems to be mainly because it
would spoil the flow of the game and more importantly Matt wouldn’t be able to
shout at the refs anymore. Lola asks where Marlon Harewood is now and Matt is
able to inform us he’s at Hartlepool.
Then it’s on to the Newham Bookshop where Lola buys Ghostwritten by David Mitchell for her
mum’s birthday. Though I always thought he was an old Fulham player. Or was
that John Mitchell?
Inside the stadium we learn that Fraser has been advised by
his doctor to avoid over-excitement, but West Ham games will be fine. While
Nigel looks very pleased with the return of his West Ham hat that I rescued
from a District Line train after the Chelsea game.
FRIEND OR DEFOE?
Sunderland look better motivated under new gaffer Dick
Advocaat, and give West Ham a couple of early scares. Jermain Defoe, who’s frequently
reminded that he’s not a popular man by the Bobby Moore Stand, crosses and
Wickham produces a good volley that is blocked by Adrian. Kouyate is then caught
out of position as a flick sends Defoe clear, but Small Paul Ince volleys over
West Ham dominate the rest of the half, even if it’s a
scrappy game. A fizzing centre from Downing is just missed by Jarvis in the
middle and then Sakho heads Cresswell’s cross wide. Jarvis produces a great
cross into the box only for Nolan to be held back by a defender. Song produces
a good long-range shot that Pantilimon does well to push wide.
The second half sees Nigel change his claret West Ham hat
for a claret and blue hooped version in a desperate bid to bring WHU some luck.
Carlton Cole comes on for Jarvis and does a decent job up front, holding up the
ball and being a nuisance for the Sunderland centre backs.
Cresswell produces another fine cross and Sakho heads wide
when he should score. A Collins punt into the box sees Nolan blatantly held by
Vergini, but the ref gives offside even though the ball flicked off O’Shea.
STOP ALL THE CLOCKS
The stadium clock stops and then moves backwards towards a
singularity. Michael the Whovian believes it’s a time rift in E13.
Adam Johnson comes on for Sunderland and is promptly reminded
by some members of the crowd that West Ham have a very good kids-for-a-quid ticketing scheme for games such as this. He brings more threat to
Sunderland though and Van Aanholt’s long-range shot produces a good save from
At least Matt never gives up hope (much), apart from the odd
tirade at Downing and the ref. I reassure Lola that West Ham will still win,
without really believing it. But then Jenkinson finds Noble, whose first pass is
blocked, but as Nene climbs over Larrsson, the ball comes back to Nobes who
dinks a great ball through to Sakho. Diafra finishes confidently into the
corner, as Upton Park erupts with relief. “Diafra Sakho he scores when he
wants!” sing the fans. Nene has got away with a foul, but we deserve a break
after recent weeks.
The clock stopping has helped. We think there’s ten minutes
left but actually there’s only three minutes of added time, as Big Sam brings
on Joey O’Brien to waste some time. Poor game, great result. The side should
regain some confidence from this and start looking up rather than down again.
Adrian 6; Jenkinson 6, Collins 7, Kouyate 6, Creswell 6; Noble 6, Nolan 5 (Nene 5), Song 5, Downing
6, Jarvis 5 (Cole 6); Sakho 7 (O’Brien n/a).