Monday, April 18

Hammers denied by dodgy penalty at the last but still stop Vardy's party

Our north/south/west London Hammers Firm arriving at the King Power
Leicester City 2 West Ham United 2

It’s an early start at 8.45am in the Holloway Road as Nigel and myself are picked up by Gavin and his mate David, who’s driving to the match. In a bid to provide some colour for this blog Gavin is wearing his revolutionary hardwearing slippers to the match, which are very comfortable, if not as intimidating as DMs should we meet any Leicester hoolies. Nigel’s been to see Stevenage versus Newport the previous day and got a new Panini sticker album, while Gav was spotting hipsters at Dulwich Hamlet versus Lewes.

We have a good journey and arrive in Leicester two hours before kick off. We park in Hazel Road, as Nigel points out the useful fact that all the local roads around the old Filbert Street area are named after nuts, and that Filbert is actually a type of nut too. Though Brazil Street wasn’t named after Alan Brazil.

We manage to park for a fiver and then Nigel tries to take is in to the Leicester Tigers rugby ground. After reorienting, we find the King Power Stadium and have a slap-up lunch of omelette, chips and beans at the café in the nearby Morrisons.

We walk to the stadium past stalls selling scarves reading “Leicester: Fearless Champions” and remark that West Ham fans would never, ever, tempt fate by such presumptuousness.

Inside the King Power the home fans are busy chanting “We’re Leicester City we’re top of the league!” as the West Ham corner responds with “We’ve got Payet!”

One minute into the game West Ham win a free kick. Payet drops the ball on to Kouyate’s head and Schmeichel makes a fantastic save to top the ball on to the post. It rolls along the line on to the other post and back into the keeper’s arms.

Huth goes close with a header but it’s mainly West Ham attacking for the first 15 minutes. But that’s when Leicester are at their most dangerous. From a West Ham corner, Schmeichel’s quick throw finds Mahrez on the right. He passes inside to Kante and the midfielder plays a fine ball through to Vardy, who has outpaced Antonio and Ogbonna and takes one touch before slotting a great finish into the corner.

“Jamie Vardy’s having a party!” chant the home fans.


It’s 1-0 at half-time and Gavin points out no less a figure than Marlon Harewood wearing a blue hoodie in the away end. Best West Ham legend spot since we once saw Trevor Morley and Ian Bishop among the away fans at Arsenal.

With Huth and Morgan looking strong at the back you’d predict the usual 1-0 Leicester win as the second half begins. Vardy just fails to connect with Okazaki’s cross, but with Carroll on for Obiang West Ham are offering more attacking threat. The game changes on 56 minutes. Vardy tangles with Ogbonna in the West Ham box and goes down. Ref Jonathan Moss gives Vardy a second yellow card for simulation and he’s off. Replays show only mild contact with Ogbonna and Vardy throwing his legs towards Angelo. Looks like a dive to me and a correct decision.

“Jamie Vardy’s having a shower!” chant the Hammers’ fans.

With Lanzini on for Noble West Ham start to dominate against ten men. Winston Reid flicks the ball against the outside of the post with a clever flick from Payet’s cross. But Huth is heading everything that moves and it looks likes Leicester will hold out.

 But when West Ham win a corner with seven minutes left, Moss gives Huth and Morgan a lecture on grappling in the box. Morgan pulls back Winston Reid and the ref awards a spot kick, as Leicester fans throw their silly paper clappers on to the pitch in protest. Andy Carroll calmly dispatches the penalty to start his own party.

Two minutes later Antonio does brilliantly to skip around two defenders and get in a cross. The ball is half headed clear but Croswell sends an unstoppable half-volley into the top of the net. What a goal.

“1-0 and you fucked it up!” chant the West Ham fans, followed by the not very witty but certainly concise, “You’re fucking shit, you’re fucking shit!”

Are we at last heading for a win? It seems so as Referee Moss ignores a penalty appeal as Ogbonna holds down Huth in the box (though both sides have been doing this all game). We’re into the fourth minute of added time as Nigel rages at Valencia for losing possession instead of hoofing the ball downfield. Schlupp is running into the edge of the box and tumbles after an innocuous challenge from Andy Carroll. Big Andy should have jockeyed him rather than tried to play the ball, but it was never a penalty and the ref appears to have been swayed by the ire of the crowd at his earlier spot kick. Ulloa calmly slots home to send the home fans into massive celebrations.

“2-1 and you fucked it up!” chant the Leicester fans as the whistle blows, before both sets of drained supporters join in some anti-Tottenham chants.

A cracking game, even if it ended in the usual dodgy decision going against the Irons. The consolation is that at least we haven’t won the title for Spurs and I’ve been proud of the way West Ham wanted to get something from this match after the disappointment of the Man United game.

We head off to The Counting House, which serves IPA and London Glory ales. A Leicester fan tells us they’d have settled for top half at the stat of the season and has some interesting stories about Alan Birchenall. When has asks Gavin to name a Leicester full-back who played for England he’s astonished when Gavin gets Steve Whitworth — “Brilliant! Steve Whitworth! Fooking Statto!”

We receive a number of texts from a tired Matt who’s been on the night shift and can imagine his fingers angrily pounding the phone as he rages against Leicester for only having one shot, Valencia for giving the ball away and former Culture Club drummer Jonathan Moss for being rubbish.

The Leicester fans are still chanting they’re top of the league. The West Ham fans’ chant of “Leicester’s a shithole I wanna go home!” is answered with “Fuck off to your tower blocks!” We retreat to David’s VW Golf and head back down the M1, having a vey long wait for a coffee at the services and listening to lots of angry Hammers fans phoning up Ian Wright and Kelly Cates.

At least Leicester haven’t done the double over us and we’ve got a point at the likely champions — although it should have been three.

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 6; Antonio 7, Reid 7, Ogbonna 6, Cresswell 7; Noble 5 (Lanzini 6), Kouyate 6, Payet 7, Obiang 5 (Carroll 6), Moses 5 (Valencia 5); Emenike 5.

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