Sunday, November 6

Adrian's rush of blood costs Hammers

 West Ham 1 Stoke City 1

First off it’s a Hardy-esque journey to Ken’s Café with Michael and Matt, only to find its sacred portals closed. At least the Newham Bookshop is open and the Betway Stand is still standing. So it’s the 330 bus back to Stratford and the Clyde Best Café where Lisa bravely tries the veggie burger and Nigel gets locked in the lavatory as we depart.

Our numbers are down; Fraser and Scott are both ill and Steve the Cornish postman is working —  though Michael suggests that he should just deliver his letters a day late as people move to Cornwall for a more relaxed pace of life. Meanwhile Alison’s back from seeing Pub Landlord Al Murray instead of the Chelsea game and her sister Roz has been at a Laindon golf club function with new besties Billy Bonds and Alvin Martin.

The first half is a poor quality game. West Ham look much more difficult to beat with three at the back and Obiang in front of the defence, but also struggle to create against Stoke’s five-man midfield. Lanzini tries a lot of dinked passes but nothing quite comes off while Ayew looks too slight to play the lone striker role.

Kouyate has to make an acrobatic clearance from Walters’ dangerous cross early on. West Ham’s best chance comes from a corner when Grant makes a great save from Ogbonna’s firm header. In added time Payet's free kick goes just over the bar and that’s about it for the first half. The Stoke fans treat us to Delilah and the Christmas onesies on the big screen are quite entertaining.

Bilic has seen enough and brings on Fernandes and Fletcher with half an hour left. Three minutes later West Ham take the lead as Noble feeds Payet on the left and Dimitri’s delicate cross appears to be headed in by Antonio, although his header has taken a deflection of Stoke’s Whelan and it’s credited as an own goal.

West Ham start to look capable of getting a second until Adrian dashes from his line to try to clear a hopeful pass from Adam. With four defenders back there’s little danger but the keeper fouls Walters and should conceded a penalty — but  ref Andre Marriner plays the advantage allowing Bojan to produce a crisp finish from Walters’ cross.

West Ham’s confidence dips and Fletcher, after producing some neat touches, dwells on the ball too long in a couple of late attacks. The ref tries very hard not to book Joe Allen, much to the outrage of the bloke next to us. At the end Charlie Adam almost wins it for Stoke with a free kick that is rather nervously tipped round the post by Adrian.

“I wish I’d stayed locked in the loo at the Clyde Best Café,” quips Nigel.

The good news is that there’s no crowd trouble and none of our players have been chased by armed motorcyclists.

“It’s starting to feel like a proper West Ham season,” muses Michael as we trudge through the chill air past the riot police guarding the shouting tunnel to Stratford, contemplating a relegation struggle.

Then it’s a pint in the Stratford East Theatre’s Workshop bar and the sobering thought that our next four opponents are Spurs, Man United twice, Arsenal and Liverpool.

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 4; Kouyate 6, Ogbonna 6, Collins 6; Cresswell 5, Payet 6, Noble 6, Obiang 6 (Feghouli n/a), Lanzini 5 (Fernandes 5), Antonio 6; Ayew 5 (Fletcher 5).


Anonymous said...

Michael is spot on. This postie is finding it increasingly frustrating.
Yours truly The vacant seat block 240.

mj said...

In what universe does Ayew play on his own up front? He hardly touched the ball. We need the Payet money in January to get a first team striker, we've got the secondary strikers...

matt said...

Hold on, sell the one world class we've had in a decade, and a proven Premier League performer, so the Board, who've wasted tens of millions already on strikers who are hopeless, injury-prone, or both, can have another go at signing that 25-goal a year striker they keep promising, but not delivering (see McCarthy, Mido, Ilan, Borricelli, Piquionne, Cole, Zaza, Calleri, Valencia, Maiga etc)? No, I really don't think so