Tuesday, September 15

Payet day for Hammers as Newcastle fail to park bus

West Ham 2 Newcastle 0

It’s a convoluted journey to Upton Park. The Barking Metropolitan line suddenly becomes a Circle line train at Liverpool Street following a “passenger incident at Upton Park”. So it’s onto the packed Central, Jubilee and District lines as my daughter Nell and I fear missing the deadline for dinner at Ken’s Café.

The Newcastle players have also had trouble parking the bus. They’ve had to walk the last mile to the stadium, meaning they now know how we felt during that season when Upton Park station seemed permanently closed. Still, at least they had time to get a programme and some last-minute burgers from Green Street. Though they’re not as late as Nigel who arrives 43 minutes into the game.

In Ken’s Café we find Lisa, dutifully waiting with a ticket for The Gav. Michael the Whovian is absent watching Benedict Cumberbatch in some play called Hamlet, presumably from seat 2B. Carol does her usual efficient job, serving Nell fortifying sausage, egg chips and beans before kick-off. Gavin arrives five minutes before kick-off after problems on the A13.    

We meet Fraser in the East Stand, I place my daughter in my seat and take her kids for a quid seat in Row R at the very back of the stand. Never sat here before and it’s intriguing to find that I’m next to a metal stanchion, you can’t see the clock and the back of our stand is a thin sheet of corrugated iron (or maybe corrugated Irons?). The OS should be sturdier, but it’s also nostalgic to think that people sat here watching Moore, Peters and Hurst in the 1960s.

Victor Moses gets a debut in place of Obiang and looks instantly dangerous wide on the left. We take the lead on nine minutes with a great goal. Sakho finds Noble with a backheel and the new skipper rolls the ball into the path of Dimitri Payet. The Reunion man sidefoots a great finish into the top corner. "How s**t must you be we're winning at home!" chant the Upton Park crowd.

We play pretty well in the first half; Payet brings gasps of admiration from the crowd for some audacious pieces of skill and Kouyate dominates the midfield. Newcastle have a good chance when Janmaat gets through but Randolph makes a good save with his legs.

James Tomkins has deservedly kept his place and at one point plays a great pass out to the wing for Victor Moses. Even the departure of the injured Ogbonna doesn’t affect the Hammers too much, as Jenkinson comes on and Tomka reverts to centre back. The appearance of Andy Carroll on the touchline chants a rousing chorus of, “He left ’cos you’re shit!” at the Newcastle fans. Then Moses fires into the side netting after a Payet-inspired break.

I manage to find a spare seat next to Fraser for the second half. The game is effectively over when a Newcastle free kick breaks down and Moses shows great pace to run from his own half and part the black and white sea. He cuts inside a defender and fires against the bar, but Payet is on hand to volley home with a finish that was more difficult than he made it look. He celebrates by sucking his thumb, as you do. "We'll miss him when he's gone in January," suggests the fan next to me, hopefully joking. 

West Ham play with pace and verve for the rest of the half with Sakho, Payet and Moses combining well and a number of crosses causing consternation in the box. “We’re West Ham United we play on the floor!” chants a disbelieving Bobby Moore Stand in a jibe at a certain manager past. And then it’s, “You’re going down with the Chelsea!” aimed at the Geordies.

Three substitutions spark a small Newcastle revival and Randolph saves low from Janmaat and makes another good tip over from a deflected de Jong shot. It’s been an extraordinary week; first Jeremy Corbyn gets elected Labour leader and then Andy Carroll is seen on a football pitch. With two minutes to go Big Andy comes on. He manages to risk both injury and a booking with a charge into Krul but thankfully survives intact.

We’ve finally won at home and it’s a very promising performance. “They’ve got a long journey home,” remarks someone as we walk by the Newcastle coaches. “Who do they come so far to watch their team lose?” asks 14-year-old Nell. “She hasn’t been watching us long,” chuckles a fan next to me, remembering our previous home games. But for once we’ve won fairly comfortably at Upton Park. Slaven has beaten the Wally with the Brolly again, we’re playing good football and we’re up to fifth. Now we just have to win at Man City.

PLAYER RATINGS: Randolph 7; Tomkins 7, Reid 7, Ogbonna 6 (Jenkinson 6), Cresswell 6; Lanzini 6 (Obiang 6), Noble 6, Kouyate 7, Payet 9, Moses 8 (Carroll n/a); Sakho 7


mj said...

At 2-0 we still invited a bit of pressure, giving the ball away in our half, but much better going forward. Tompkins played well at right back and centre half. Got a good view of the boys of 86 from the Alpari stand.

Pete May said...

Yes, glad Tomkins kept his place and you can never be sure at 2-0 with West Ham. Credit to Randolph, the two saves he had to make were good ones.