Sunday, February 12

Evans above — Hammers blow it at the death

West Ham 2 West Brom 2

Inside the Best Café Matt and Lisa have been to see the kids play in a blizzard at Little Heath, though they had to leave at half-time. Nigel reports that his mum’s hairdresser in Bournemouth has given up on the Cherries as it was better in League Two and bang go our chances of any tickets for the away match. Meanwhile Michael’s been to Ken’s Cafe and Matt’s mate Carl, an Albion fan, is reminiscing about coming back from 0-3 down at the Boleyn to win 4-3 after Jermain Defoe was sent off. Happy days.

Then it’s a trek past the Belgian Irons’ coach and through the shouty tunnel. We fail to hold our formation and lose Michael and Nigel, eventually to be reunited in the concourse where Michael has purchased a pint of Deucher’s IPA for £3.50 and it’s actually pretty nice and far superior to the bland Carlsberg.

There’s no Andy Carroll and the one thing we don’t want to do is give Albion an early lead. After a promising early atmosphere builds up the crowd are stunned as West Ham claim a foul on Feghouli, Chadli skips through Kouyate and beats Randolph at his near post. A very soft goal and Pulis will love defending a lead.

The Hammers respond with a Snodgrass free kick that Foster has to tip round the post, before Rondon thwacks the bar for the visitors. Antonio has a header cleared off the line and when, from another free kick Feghouli turns the ball home after a bout of pinball, ref Michael Oliver correctly disallows the goal as Antonio is offside and nudging Foster.

At half-time Cresswell is withdrawn and Bilic makes a brave formation change playing three-ish at the back and bringing on Calleri up front.

It’s not going well, but the Hammers show good spirit and the crowd get behind them. Feghouli starts to make things happen and Lanzini looks creative. Calleri has a shot tipped away by Foster.

West Ham deservedly equalise as Lanzini strikes a fine effort against the bar and Feghouli prods home the rebound. We never doubted you, Feggy.

There’s more Hammers pressure and some tardy WBA substitutions, but WBA still threaten to break. Just as Nigel and myself are saying that we could settle for a point and Matt is remonstrating that we need to win this one, Feghouli plays it inside to Lanzini, who appears to settle it with a fine snap shot and very little backlift. Four minutes left.

We appear to have held on as Nigel produces his lucky banana and the game enters the fifth minute of added time. Kouyate sends a throw-in straight to an Albion player, much to Matt's chagrin. Albion win a throw-in and then a corner as Kouyate is caught the wrong side of his man. Collins is on as sub, goalie Foster is up and all we have to do is defend this. The corner goes unerringly to Jonny Evans who climbs higher than our defence to head home off the head of McAuley. This causes Matt to do a passable imitation of Donald Trump making a late-night expletive-laden phone call to Cheikhou Kouyate and the West Ham defence as Nigel peruses the banana skin beneath his feet and Bilic attacks a TV microphone.

We’d have settled for a point after going behind but now it feels like a loss. Still, we are keeping the points ticking over, Carroll has three weeks to get fit and we might even have a right-back one day. This game probably sums up where we are right now; outside the top seven and scrapping to join the best of the rest.

While on a more positive note the crowd seem to be finding their voice and even Tony Pulis noticed, commenting. "People say there's no atmosphere here, I thought the atmosphere here today was absolutely fantastic."

PLAYER RATINGS: Randolph 5; Kouyate 4, Reid 6, Fonte 5, Cresswell 5 (Calleri 5); Feghouli 7 (Collins n/a), Lanzini 7, Obiang 5, Noble 6, Snodgrass 6 (Fernandes n/a); Antonio 6.


Rob Graham said...

Great report Pete, yes I would have taken a point when we went 1-0 down as well! It turned out to be a humdinger of a game thanks to Lanzini mainly, and I was disappointed in the end but in a way they deserved it for keeping the pressure on right to the end. Seeing Pulis calming Slav down was a laugh, and personally I would have sent Dicksie to intimidate the lino! At the end of the day we should survive if Andy doesn't slip on the diving board and break his ankle.COYI

Pete May said...

Cheers Rob. Yes, plenty of positives apart from the 95th minute and West Brom are ring well these days. Warm weather straining offers a multitude of new ways for Andy to get crocked! We need to keep him in a padded hotel suite.