Tuesday, March 7

Game Hammers succumb to classy Chelsea

West Ham 1 Chelsea 2

It’s in to the Clyde Best Café for egg, chips and beans with my old schoolmate Mark and Matt and Lisa. Then there’s a rendezvous with Roz and Joe via a teeming H block to dispense Steve the Cornish Postman’s ticket. Fraser’s absent visiting his agent, threatening to dispense an Ibrahimovic-like elbow unless he publishes his western blockbuster, while Nigel’s on time and tells us he’s taken CQ on a Valentine’s date to Eastleigh v Braintree.

There’s an early scare as Andy Carroll goes down with a cut face after a clash of heads with Victor Moses, but like the Black Knight, he declares it’s just a scratch. Several Chelsea players go down but for once there’s no cry of “get up you tart!"— the very angry chap behind us has seemingly gone AWOL along with Alison and Scott.

It’s a good first half hour from West Ham. Obiang gets in some good tackles and Cresswell and Snodgrass, who is playing more as a conventional winger without Antonioin the side, get in a series of crosses aimed at Andy Carroll. But Cahill are Azpilicueta are solid and David Luiz has a brilliant game at the back, seeming to stroll through the match.

West Ham get a free kick that Snodgrass fires into the wall. Snoddy’s pass to Feghouli is intercepted by Kante, who releases Hazard. The revitalised Chelsea man plays a quick one-two with Pedro, beats Obiang for speed, rounds Randolph and scores a quality goal. It took eight seconds.  A bald bloke has got on the pitch and tried to attack the celebrating Hazard and Luiz, but is thankfully contained by stewards. We didn’t realise Fraser had shaved his head.

West Ham keep fighting and Lanzini fires over when well-placed. But Chelsea almost double their lead when another speedy Hazard break sees Cresswell block one goal bound shot and Randolph make a fine save from the rebound.

The game seems over after 50 minutes. A Chelsea corner flicks off Obiang’s head and Reid has let Costa get goal-side as Desperate Dan thighs it over the line. A cheap goal to give away.

“We’re gonna win the league!” chant the away fans, along with praise for big Fat Frankie Lampard and the metaphysical, "you sold your soul for this shithole!" Chelsea do look like likely champions. Kante wins everything in front of the defence and Hazard and Pedro threaten every time they break. Their three subs are Matic, Willian and Zouma, which tells you about the strength of their squad.

But credit to West Ham for keeping going. Andy Carroll fires over, and then Snodgrass gets in a low cross from the left and Courtois has to make a fine stop from Feghouli’s drive, and from the melee there’s an appeal for handball. Feghouli gets in another cross that Fonte heads just over. At the other end Costa draws a great save from Randolph.

Nigel and his lucky banana
Nigel wonders if it's too late to eat his lucky banana. It all looks over, only deep in added time sub Ayew finds Lanzini who finishes well in a half-deserted stadium. There’s only a minute left and you want West Ham to equalise just to prove to the part-timers that you should never leave a match before the end.

But there’s not enough time and Chelsea get their points. We’re all slightly relieved that the scoreline makes it look a closer game than it was, even if the Hammers did have 52 per cent of the possession.

So it’s a trek back to Stratford over the crowded railway bridge and into the King Edward for some Doombar. Matt dispenses copies of When Saturday Comes and Nigel reveals that he’s been to a Procol Harum gig at the RFH where singer Gary Brooker skipped off stage and fall and hurt his head, only to gamely play on in a bandage like a musical Andy Carroll. I wonder if he turned a whiter shade of pale.

It’s a game that rather sums up our season. We can’t take a big name scalp but we can beat the middle-rankers. Still, it was no disgrace to lose to the likely champions and had we pulled one back earlier we might even have had them worried. And on a positive note there was no major crowd trouble and Carroll got through 90 minutes.

PLAYER RATINGS: Randolph 7; Kouyate 5; Reid 5 (Byram 5), Fonte 5, Cresswell 6; Feghouli 6 (Ayew 5), Noble 6 (Fernandes 5), Lanzini 7, Obiang 6, Snodgrass 6; Carroll 5.


matt said...

Can't fault any of this Pete, other than to say I would have given Obiang at least 7 as I thought he was excellent (apart from accidentally assisting their second goal) and he has become something of an unsung hero. Also, despite our fears, Marriner did ok, and the bloke who notched up the new world record for oldest and fattest linesman also seems to have got the decision right for the first goal. Annoyingly.

Rob Graham said...

Good man Pete your reports always make me feel like I was there, like Matt I thought Obiang was excellent together with Lanzini who buzzed around never giving up.
Sadly Snoddy had an off game, and we looked so slow at times going forward it was worrying.
High praise has to be given to Chelsea who look like the real deal, and Hazard free of the Portugese flea is unstoppable together with Kante in midfield and Luiz at the back , but they were all impressive and we would have been lucky to beat them on the night that was in it.
We did look fairly solid most of the game and should give lesser mortals a game although we need more than the Andy threat.
Off to Paris for w/e so maybe rugby on Friday night but only MOTD to look at on my return, fingers crossed, a good counter attacking away game!

Pete May said...

Agree Obiang played well Matt, I took him down a mark because he got outpaced by Hazard for the first (though so did everybody else) and inadvertently made the second for Costa. Though maybe I am being too harsh. Enjoy Paris Rob and hopefully Bournemouth's defence will be more porous than Chelsea's.