Sunday, January 31

Randolph earns Hammers replay

Matt and Lisa's view from the away end
Off to the lucky/unlucky pub The Hole In The Wall at Waterloo where our posse has seen West Ham both win at Arsenal and get thrashed at Spurs. Fraser and myself opt for the Jurassic ale, which has kept pretty well over the millennia. Matt and Lisa are at the game having opted for a romantic mini-break in a boutique hotel with a bonus trip on the 26 bus to Anfield, soft lad.

There's not much to report when Michael arrives close to half-time, bar Randolph making a great save to tip Brannigan's shot around the post and Obiang volleying just wide after O'Brien's cross is cleared. The ref has also missed a double handball by Caulker in the box. And we've accrued the usual injuries; Tomkins has got a bleeding face after a clash of heads and Kouyate looks like he's done his knee. So we get a very rare sighting of Joey O'Brien.

It's not a great game and for much of the game Fraser is left rehearsing his cowboy accent for the reading of his Western to a bunch of goddam literary agents, while Michael is high on steroids for his sinus condition, which is probably just as well.

Liverpool are playing squad players and kids, though Smith, Branagan and Teixeira all appear promising and in the second half they look more dangerous against almost our strongest line-up. Even Payet has an off-day. Randolph has to make a good stop from Teixeira and towards the end makes a great triple save denying Benteke and then blocking two follow-ups. We've got a quality back-up for Adrian, who's in Spain for the birth of his first child. 

Antonio heads against the post at the death but Cresswell's cross had already gone behind the line. It ends 0-0 which is a good result, though also a missed opportunity as only Mignolet and Clyne were Liverpool regulars. Though perhaps also a sign of progress to be upset at not beating Liverpol for a third time in one season. So now it's back to Upton  Park, though Liverpool will surely play a stronger team in the replay.

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