Sunday, February 26

Ayew levels for Hammers in Watford wind and rain

Watford 1 West Ham 1

It’s a twenty-minute walk from Watford Junction to Vicarage Road, which in places looks more like a set of new-build flats than a stadium. I’m with my mate Mark and his Watford-supporting sons among the home fans. We’re sitting in the Sir Elton John Stand, which has the words to Your Song painted across its rear wall. Though to be pedantic, they were actually written by Bernie Taupin not Elton. Sir Elton might also like to think of giving the Hornets a bit of extra dosh for a bigger roof as we’re rained on throughout the game.

We’re down by the corner flag and in the second minute have a great view of Zarate apparently being hit by phaser fire in the box as Kouyate catches his heel. Troy Deeney dispatches the penalty.

Niang goes close for Watford with a rising drive and Zarate gets his name chanted by the Hammers fans as he takes a corner. West Ham have a lot of possession for the rest of the half but fail to penetrate, though Feghouli almost sets up Snodgrass. Snodgrass then misses a tap-in after a fine cross by Cresswell is parried and in the melee Zarate goes down and is stretchered off with a nasty injury. Texts from the Old Red Lion suggest that Matt is failing to take the positives.

West Ham appear to have had a rocket, man, as they come out with renewed intensity after the break. Antonio is getting repeatedly fouled and then Kouyate goes down in the box after a hand-off from Niang. Watford’s Family Stand is bizarrely next to the away fans and the kids hear some interesting chants such as, “you’re just a c••t with a whistle!”

From our seats four rows from the front you certainly get to appreciate the pace of the game, even if it is a mid-table clash. Cresswell gets in the best cross of the match and Antonio heads wide while at he other end a fine tackle from Fonte earns a chorus of “José Fonte Baby” to the tune of the Human League’s Don’t You Want Me Baby?

Ayew replaces the disappointing Snodgrass and Fonte’s header produces a great save from Gomes. West Ham are knocking on the door and Lanzini is having a fine game, weaving into the box with a great dribble.

Finally the Hammers equalise as Lanzini releases Antonio who shows great pace to get in a shot that hits both posts. But at last a West Ham striker has got in the box and thankfully the ball falls to Ayew, who taps home before being buried under his teammates by the away end.

It’s worth a soaking to finally see a goal. West Ham press for a late winner until the 86th minute when Antonio goes down and makes a silly handball, resulting in a second yellow. Slaven looks for a microphone to trash.

So it’s a nervous finish with both sides still going forward and a massive melee in our box right at the death as Success flicks wide under good pressure from Randolph. Maybe it’s two points lost, but after a poor start we’ve dominated most of the game and finishing with ten men it’s not that bad a point in the wind and rain of Watford.

PLAYER RATINGS: Randolph 6; Kouyate 6, Fonte 6, Reid 6, Cresswell 6; Feghouli 6, Noble 6, Lanzini 7 (Fernandes n/a), Obiang 6, Snodgrass 4 (Ayew 7); Antonio 7.


matt said...

Blimey, is that a Van Der Valk reference in your headline? One for the kids, there. I did take the positives from the game - Antonio was excellent, as was Lanzini in the second half, but I did think the refereeing was a scandal in the wind and rain, and was slanted against us as so often this season and last. If there's was a penalty, we shd have had at leas one. That said, Bilic has to look at his refusal to play a right back, as that's now cost us 4 points in the last 2 games.

Pete May said...

I know you are a very positive man Matt particularly art that transcendental meditation course in LA... Kouyate improved after the penalty but agree he's no right back. I'd rather have three at the back with Kouyate more central and bring in Byram as a wing back. We had a really good view of the hand-offs on Antonio and Kouyate (a clear pen) on the right-wing in the second half. Antonio only got booked the first time because he wasn't getting any protection.

Rob Graham said...

Good overview of the game Pete, I thought Cresswell regaining form was a big plus to take out of the game.
The RB problem needs to be acknowledged and has cost us dear this season.
Play Byram if he is fit, or drop him off the bench.
Antonio is an absolute legend but needs more support, out for the next game scarey!!
We are nearly a good team if the gaps can be filled, Carroll is great but can not be relied on fitness wise, I think the directors will have to face up to digging deep this summer.
Lanzini was fantastic....

Pete May said...

We certainly need reliable back-up for Carroll in the summer Rob and another right-back. Yes, Lanzini seems to be relishing being the main man now.