Thursday, September 22

Payet wins it at the death

West Ham 1 Accrington Stanley 0 (EFL Cup)

It’s down to diehards Fraser, Matt and myself for this one, though the attendance of 39,877 is very respectable and is more than Upton Park could have held. It’s a squad line-up and as Matt points out there can’t have been many West Ham teams where only two players have scored for the club (Ogbonna and Feghouli have one goal each).

It’s a tepid first half as we bemoan the lack of any Pardew-esque ‘tempo’. Accrington’s fans are noisy in the away end and almost see a goal when McConville gets acres of space on the let and Randolph has to make a fine save. We’re playing four forwards who look bereft of all confidence in Feghouli, Calleri, Zaza and Tore. When Feghouli is sent clear by Fernandes he appears be held back by an invisible tractor beam and is tackled after hesitating too long.

In the second half Bilic has to bring on a three-man team of Payet, Lanzini and Antonio. Payet and Lanzini instantly make us more creative though Antonio, on after 70 minutes, has a more frustrating game, rarely beating the defenders with his crosses. In a more central role Fenrnandes looks promising. Payet wriggles through on the left and crosses for Zaza to shoot at Parish’s legs.

“Premier League you’re having a laugh!” chant the Stanley fans. They almost nick it as McConville blasts another fine chance over the bar. Obiang has a steady game and almost scores as Parrish tips his long range effort wide.

There’s another injury worry as Masuaku is carried off on a stretcher and West Ham go down to ten men. It looks like extra time as we go into the 96th minute. Then Zak Vyner fouls Payet on the edge of the box. The little magician steps up and places a wonderful free kick past Parish.

Dimitri rushes into the corner celebrating like West Ham have just won the Champions League. Apparently we've got Payet. In a strange way that could be the most vital goal of the season. Going out to Accy would have really signalled an early-season crisis. We’ll take a clean sheet and a win whoever it’s against. Matt reminisces about past League Cup struggles against Southend, Aldershot and Chesterfield.

There’s no kettling with a 40,000 crowd and we escape through a ghostly Westfield to find the Tap Bar. The Number 6 Blonde is really very good, and we also try the Boleyn Bitter. Simon who sits in front of us introduces himself and recommends the craft beer at Hackney Wick — who says we’re all fighting each other?

So now it’s Chelsea at home in the next round with no police in the stadium. Now that should be interesting.

PLAYER RATINGS: Randolph 6; Arbeloa 5, Ogbonna 5, Nordtveit 6, Masuaku 5; Feghouli 4 (Payet 8), Obiang 6, Fernandes 6, Tore 4 (Lanzini 7); Calleri 4 (Antonio 5), Zaza 5.


Rob said...

I could barely watch as Dimitri lined up the free kick. Talk about tense!

We really did look like a ragtag bunch of unsettled players who had barely played together, particularly in the first half, and it's slightly worrying that we were so bereft of creativity before Payet and Lanzini came on. But a win and a clean sheet is what we sorely needed and could improve confidence ahead of the Saints game.

Best heckle of the night: 'don't hand ball it Masuaku!'. He was about to take a throw-in.

Pete May said...

Great heckle! I guess it will take time for the players to get an understanding though the likes of Calleri just don't look good enough at the moment. Bit of confidence might make a difference though and suspect Zaza is a different player once he gets a goal.