Sunday, October 16

Lanzini wins it for battling Hammers

Crystal Palace 0 West Ham United 1

Watched this one at the Coach and Horses in Stoke Newington High Street, which serves a fine pint of Hophead Dark Star. It all feels a bit ominous at the start, slipping to second from bottom and coming up against Pards and James Tomkins at Selhurst Park. But from the kick-off there's a determined attitude to this West Ham side. 

Playing three centre backs works really well; Kouyate is excellent and Reid and Ogbona get in countless brave blocks and headers up against Benteke. Noble makes some fine interceptions, Obiang does his usual steady job and wing backs Antonio and Cresswell threaten on the break. It's a huge psychological boost to see Aaron in the line-up again and early on he gets forward to fire into the side netting.

West Ham survive a scare when Zaha shoots wide when well placed, but take the lead after 19 minutes. Obiang plays a fine ball wide to Cressy, who interchanges passes with Payet before getting in a wicked low cross that Lanzini flicks home at the near post. 

It seems the Hammers have held out until ref Martin Atkinson points to the spot when Ogbonna tangles with Benteke, though it looks harsh. Luckily Mido appears to have been giving Benteke lessons in taking penalties as the Belgian giant scoops it horribly up and wide. "First bit of luck we've had all season," texts Matt from the River Dene in Basingstoke. Thirty seconds later Benteke strikes the outside of the post with a header.

In the second half West Ham almost double their lead as Zaza and Lanzini break, Manuel tries to round the keeper and Payet gets a shot in from the rebound. Antonio has a header cleared off the line from a corner. The ball is still in the box and Cresswell goes down. There's contact but instead of a penalty ref Atkinson books Aaron for simulation.

Within a minute Cresswell's arm brushes Zaha in a race down the left wing. Ridiculously, Atkinson gives Creswell a second yellow. Seems like luck has deserted us again. But West Ham battle on with ten men and the maligned Zaza has a hardworking and effective game up front, winning headers and taking the pressure off the defence in his best performance or the Irons. The tiring Payet is replaced by Fernandes and even Calleri does his bit by winning a free kick late on. 

It's down to Adrian to produce a great hand over the top to deny Wickham and after a nervous four minutes of added time we cling on to win. That could turn our season. We go 15th! Irons!


matt said...

So why were you in Stokie, bit out of your manor?

This was more like the Hammers of last season, possible because it WAS the Hammers of last season, plus Zaza.

Obviously Cressy made a huge difference, until those two absurd yellow cards. While I do try to defend referees, who have a difficult job, Martin Atkinson, come on, seriously, retire now.

The lads in the Riverdene were very impressed by Zaza. To use the obvious cliche, if he gets one lucky goal off his backside, it could really get him going.

Pete May said...

Yes, Zaza looked more like a player and worked really hard. Good to see him going over to the fans at he end. Smells like team spirit, as Nirvana once sang.

matt said...

Next game, playing a team who've not won in the league all season, and have our least popular former player up front - what could possibly go wrong.

So why were you in Stoke Newington?

Pete May said...

There for the Growing Communities 20th anniversary party complete with Dagenham salad..