Sunday, November 8

Payet crocked as Lukaku haunts Hammers

West Ham 1 Everton 1

Heavy rain saturates Green Street on an unseasonably humid day as I arrive at Ken’s Café clad in Gore-Tex. Matt and Nigel are discussing old horror films as Matt becomes possibly the first person ever to utter the word ‘portmanteau’ in Ken’s. Meanwhile Michael the Renaissance Man (and Whovian) maintains a Zen-like calm insisting that his big breakfast will arrive before kick off, despite the fact he’s arrived at 2.15pm.

Meanwhile Carol’s granddaughter is the latest family member to have been recruited on cup-collecting duties, while Carol herself is still trying to trace the person who bought the pottery model of Ken’s Café from the V& A exhibition by Barnaby Barford — my money’s on Charles Saatchi. There’s time for late appearances from my Facebook pal Nicola, Big Phill and Big Joe and then a dash to the East Stand, with Matt and Nigel making their obligatory trek to the recycling bins behind the away coaches with their Saturday papers.

We arrive to find squaddies in West Ham scarves on the pitch, a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day and The Last Post. Winston’s in for the suspended Collins and Sakho is still injured so Andy Carroll starts two successive games for the first time since January.

The sides appear pretty evenly matched, but West Ham make a decent start. Payet finds Moses who shoots into the side netting. Everton are unexpectedly physical and Kone clatters Moses without being booked. Another fine ball from Payet finds Jenkinson who shoots at the keeper rather than crossing. From the rebound off the keeper Cresswell curls a good effort just over. Michael wonders if Moses will deliver his commandments on tablets of Stones. The Everton centre back is impressive throughout, dominating Andy Carroll, and earns a tuneful chorus of “Money can’t buy me Stones” from the away fans.

The Irons take the lead after half a hour. Payet finds the impressive Moses who scuffs his shot from the edge of the box. The ball rebounds off Stones to Lanzini on the edge of the box and curls a lovely effort into the top corner before running into the corner to celebrate.

Payet has already delighted the crowd with one pirouette away from Everton’s midfield on the halfway line, provoking a chorus of “We’ve got Payet!”,  but is then injured after being crocked by McCarthy with a scissors tackle. The Everton enforcer plays a bit of the ball, but also clatters the man and it could easily be a red card, but ref Paul Tierney only books him. We are tempted to state a McCarthyite witch hunt.

Two minutes before the break Everton equalise, just after Mr Moon has left the stadium. Payet loses possession and Deulofeu plays a great first-time ball though to Lukaku. The Everton striker has got behind Tomkins and Reid too easily, but uses his pace and strength to round Adrian and tap home. That’s his seventh goal in seven games against West Ham.

At half-time we doubt if even Nigel’s lucky banana can save us from the usual Everton comeback. Meanwhile Fraser’s having to rewrite the start of his Western novel as for some reason his tutors want to tweak his plot of ransoming a portly sheriff called Big Sam to an outpost in the north-east.

Payet only lasts five minutes of the second half and is replaced by Valencia. Enner looks sharp and combines well with Lanzini, curling in a fine cross that Moses just fails to connect with. But his cameo only lasts ten minutes. Coleman makes a fair tackle, but Valencia falls awkwardly and has to be replaced by Zarate.

The ref continues to perplex. Lanzini shoots narrowly wide and West Ham’s best chance comes after Moses wins a corner. Winston Reid’s header is just over the bar. At the other end Lukaku pokes a Galloway cross past the post.

At least we don’t concede the usual late goal in the four minutes of added time and if Payet hadn’t been crocked we might surely have won. The game ends in a draw and in a nod to Bilic’s heavy metal football, the PA plays Black Sabbath’s Paranoid (a tribute to Jose Mourinho?) and Deep Purple’s Highway Star, which pleases Nigel no end.

I walk with Nigel to Plaistow and we agree that at least point keeps the season ticking over and we are way ahead of relegation-certainties Chelsea. In fact we go up to fifth, which causes a lot of celebration, as when I meet my family for a bit of a do in Warwick Avenue there are fireworks going off all over London. Two weeks’ international break now (third of the season so far and surely too many?) and the chance to get Payet, Sakho (who we’ve missed) and Valencia fit.

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 6; Jenkinson 6, Reid 6, Tomkins 6, Cresswell 6; Lanzini 7, Payet 6 (Valencia 5, Zarate 5), Kouyate 5, Noble 5, Moses 7; Carroll 5 (Jelavic 5).


mj said...

That second half was a bit grim though! By the way how many times do people need to know that Mr Moon has left the stadium?!

Pete May said...

Mr Moon left just before they scored along with our defence. Not a great game but I'll take a point against our bogey side...

Phil Nichols said...

I thought Tomkins was excellent... 6 is a bit harsh! Noble had his best game for a while, but that's not saying much. Zarate too greedy by half..... It was a solid enough performance though.

matt said...

Payet out for 3 months, thanks to a thug and a weak ref. But why did our ever hopeless medical team let him play on? They ALWAYS know how to make a bad injury much worse - see also Ashton, Dyer, Collison, Cole, Diarra....

Pete May said...

Agree Matt, he called for treatment straight after the tackle. Like Andy Carroll playing on last season. Tomkins did well Phil, though I knocked him down a mark for getting caught out slightly for the goal.