Tuesday, December 29

Christmas Carroll boosts Hammers

West Ham  2 Southampton 1

Strange happenings on the way to the East Stand. Matt, Michael and Nigel report spotting a fan taking a dump under a Southampton fans'  coach — in the very same spot where Michael the Whovian dropped my Christmas card against Stoke. You’re shit, aaaaargh… Matt is so put off by the sight that he forgets to recycle his papers in the nearby container. So Upton Park will be seeing some new faeces in the transfer window.

Southampton should be out of sight by half-time. The Saints take the lead after a lovely backheel from Mane starts the move that sees Long cross low and Tadic bundle the ball in off Jenkinson. Collins then has to make a magnificent block to deny Davis and then shows some proper leadership by rollicking Zarate, Jenkinson and most of his team-mates. Jenks is out of position replacing the injured Cresswell at left back, Song is off the pace, Noble is misplacing passes and Zarate is having a frustrating game.

When the PA announces that Mr Moon has left the stadium the Saints fans respond, rather wittily, with “Mr Moon, he left ‘cos you’re shit!” Davis shoots just wide for Southampton and Adrian makes a couple of fine saves including a tip-over from Fonte’s header. Boos can be heard as West Ham keep playing balls into touch.

It’s so bad, Fraser quips at half-time, “Can we have Allardyce back?” Bilic makes some sensible changes, switching Jenkinson to right back and putting Tomkins at left back, then bringing on the returning Carroll and Lanzini for Zarate and Song. We immediately look a lot better and the crowd respond. Collins has a header cleared off the post and then Andy Carroll takes the ball off Tomkins’ foot to blaze over when he should score. 

It’s hard to know how much longer is left as the scoreboards are still not working and presumably Karren Brady didn’t get enough Xmas Amazon vouchers to cover the cost of a replacement. But Hammers keep pressing while Collins and Tomkins are solid at the back. Ginge plays on after injury and gets a rousing "One Ginger Pele!" chorus. Great news he's signed a new contract. Meanwhile Matt remains strangely positive after his sojourn in California, even after Valencia is scythed down and the ref completely ignores it.

We equalise on 69 minutes with a bizarre goal. Antonio runs into the box, takes a tumble and then a defender’s clearance bounces off his head into the net. And it’s not even Twelfth Night. A lucky goal but deserved on our second half performance. Ten minutes later it gets even better. Valencia crosses, the ball loops of a defender and Antonio heads on to the underside of the bar. Andy Carroll, sporting a new braided ponytail, does well to take a step back and head into the unguarded net before running into out corner of the East Stand. Never in doubt.

“Oh when the Saints go 2-1 down…” chant the gleeful Bobby Moore Stand.

Antonio then makes a thrilling run from the edge of his own area, outpacing the Saints’ defence but firing way wide. Shows his potential though and on a different night he might have had a hat-trick.

We hold on through four minutes of added time and at the whistle Bilic hugs every player. Our first win in nine, though we’re now unbeaten in six. And a much better return of four points from the two post-Christmas games, whereas last season we lost both of them. And a proper floodlit atmosphere to prove what makes the Boleyn so special. Irons!

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 7; Jenkinson 6, Collins 8, Ogbonna 6, Tomkins 7; Zarate 5 (Carroll 7), Song 5 (Lanzini 6), Noble 6, Kouyate 6, Antonio 8, Valencia 6 (Obiang 5).

1 comment:

Jenn said...

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