West Ham musings by Pete May, author of Hammers in the Heart, West Ham:Irons in the Soul, Flying So High:West Ham's Cup Finals and Goodbye to Boleyn
Sunday, October 2
Perfect Payet goal lifts the Hammers
Hammers 'goal' disallowed for push on Valdez
West Ham 1 Middlesbrough 1
The (Clyde) Best Café serves egg, chips and beans with
disturbing alacrity and Nigel and Matt say the real coffee is actually quite decent.
Then it’s a 20-minute dash through an estate, under the tunnel and towards the
Having dropped Zaza we’re playing no strikers, possibly as a tribute to Sam
Allardyce. After four minutes Byram goes for a diving
header and looks like he’s pulled a hamstring. There’s a big cheer as a bizarre
Wacky Races-style vehicle enters the
pitch and carries poor Sam off. Arbeloa comes on.
GETTING STUCK IN
Fischer fires just past the post for Boro, but after that
it’s a decent first half from West Ham. Obiang, in for Lanzini, stiffens the
midfield, Reid and Collins make some fine defensive blocks, Ogbonna is solid at
left back and the side works much harder than in previous games. Seems like the
team bonding might have worked. Everything comes down the left and Payet gets
through to produce a good save from Valdes (who is he most decorated player on the
pitch, says Matt). Dimitri has another effort just wide. Noble fires past the
post and goes even closer when he chips an effort on to the bar having been set
up by Antonio.
After half an hour we’re joined by Alison’s sister Roz who
has been having her eyebrows groomed — which may well be preferable to watching
West Ham in recent weeks.
Today is better though. A relegation struggle seems to
create a much better atmosphere at the London Stadium as the crowd make a lot
of noise to try and inspire the Irons. The main downside is the performance of
Tore. He repeatedly loses possession and looks lightweight. When he balloons an
effort over the bar the normally
mild-mannered Nigel launches into an expletive-laden rant at the Tore-ible
winger. We’ve not seen Nigel this angry since he almost missed out on Deep
WE'VE GOT PAYET!
Having got to the break level we then concede from a corner
after 51 minutes. Antonio allows Stuani too much space to get in a header that
is cleared by Noble, but has already crossed the line.
But West Ham keep going and Zaza, on for Tore, works hard. To
their credit the fans stick with West Ham and are rewarded with a sublime goal.
Dimitri Payet gathers the ball on the left, spins away from Barragan, then slaloms
across the box beating four defenders. He appears to have gone too wide but
with the keeper and defence off balance threads the ball into the far corner.
The stadium erupts and Dimitri runs towards Slaven. We’ve just seen the goal of
the season. “We’ve got Payet!” echoes around Stratford.
A fine through ball from Zaza sends Payet through again and
he’s stopped by a professional foul on the edge of the box. The free kick comes
o nothing and then the game goes back to a stalemate. Zaza and Antonio shoot
wildly over the bar and after Antonio beats his defender for speed he’s left
facing the keeper from a tight angle but blazes over. Forshaw has an impressive
game for Boro in midfield and the Smog Monsters worry us a little in the five
minutes of added time.
DRAWING DRAWING WEST HAM
But it ends a draw and while that’s disappointing at least
it stops our losing sequence and will instil some confidence.
Michael (who has been tea-total for September but is now
back on the booze), Fraser and myself head off to the bar at the Theatre Royal,
where Michael is watching Glasgow Girls,
perhaps a musical tribute to Frank McAvennie. The Workshop Bar does a nice
fruity IPA in White Rock and it’s a lovely old theatre. So not too bad an end
to the day, even if there has apparently been some crowd trouble in the Park,
perhaps caused by Matt and Nigel lobbing statistics at the Boro fans.
We still have to get a result at Palace, but this suggests
the team is at least getting back to something like last season’s level of
desire. Two weeks’ break now and Cresswell will soon be fit and maybe even Big Andy.
Will that Payet goal prove a turning point?
Adrian 6; Byram n/a (Arbeloa 6). Reid 6, Collins 6, Ogbonna 6; Kouyate 6,
Obiang 7, Noble 6 (Lanzini 5); Tore 3 (Zaza 6), Antonio 6, Payet 8.