Sunday, April 23

Hammers hold Everton in game of few chances

West Ham 0 Everton 0

The most entertaining part of the day is a pre-match trip to Upton Park for the Bike To Boleyn send-off from the World Cup statue. They’re cycling from Upton Park to Stratford as part of the campaign to keep the World Cup Statue in Barking Road. Bubbles sounds rather good sung by a choir, there’s a local drum group, a couple of blokes who have cycled round India and homemade carrot cake on sale. Then it’s on to the Newham Bookshop to sign a copy of GoodbyeTo Boleyn for a pair of Everton fans.

On reaching the (Clyde) Best CafĂ© political anoraks Matt and Nigel are bemoaning May’s timing and discussing the Gorton by-election, now postponed until the day of the general election. Meanwhile Michael the Whovian has returned from his audience with Maggie Smith, who has predicted West Ham need 39 points. The falafel wrap is rather good (though obviously not as good as Carol’s), while Matt goes for haloumi with chips and in a desperate attempt to make my own blog I’ve visited the Chinese supermarket in the Stratford Centre and smuggle some spicy tofu into the stadium.

It’s another summery afternoon in the London Stadium as we join Fraser, who appears to be in Everton’s away kit with his yellow trousers and jumper and has had his cigar case frisked while entering the ground. Behind us are Steve the Cornish postie and Maldon Irons Alison and Scott.

Nothing much happens for 90 minutes and the blonde Barnets of Masuaku and Fernandes are often the most exciting things on display. The problem might be that Nigel has forgotten his lucky banana.

Adrian has been restored as number one and almost make a ricket when he mis-controls a tricky throw-in from Fernandes but manages to leap on the loose ball. Lone strikers Calleri and Lukaku look isolated for both sides and the teams cancel each other out. “It’s not a ladies match!” intones the unreconstructed gentleman behind us.

West Ham get the first shot in after half an hour when Nordtveit, restored to midfield, gets in a long range effort that Stekelenburg saves pretty comfortably. Collins gets in a header from Lanzini’s excellent cross and beats the turf in frustration as he misses the target.

West Ham show the more attacking intent in the second half. Fernandes dithers when he should shoot and Lanzini has a shot blocked by Jagielka’s head. Lanzini turns inside to deliver another shot on target and after Sakho earns a late corner at the end Fonte fails to get in a solid header at he back post.

Yet the mood among the crowd has been surprisingly positive and they’ve done well to get behind the team. Playing three centre backs has kept WHU solid at the back with Ginge outstanding and dominating Lukaku. While Masuaku has had a great game on the left and played almost as an auxiliary midfielder. Fonte makes several forays into midfield from the back three and the maligned Nordtveit even earns a “well done Havard!” from Matt (words we never thought we’d hear). Havard has a storming second half, winning the ball well and setting up numerous attacks.

Bilic says we’ve had “11 lions” on the pitch and considering the players missing (Ogbonna, Obiang, Carroll, Antonio, Noble, Snodgrass, Feghouli and Byram) it’s not a bad result to take a point off a team that’s currently fifth. The Hammers are now unbeaten in three and although not completely safe yet, with Swansea and Hull winning it was vital to get something from this game. It’s the first scoreless draw at the London Stadium and a clean sheet is a welcome change. Now let’s get a result at Stoke.

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 6; Fonte 6, Collins 7, Reid 6; Fernandes 6, Kouyate 5 (Cresswell 5), Nordtveit 6, Lanzini 6, Ayew 5, Masuaku 8; Calleri 5 (Sakho 5).


mj said...

I think that was a good showing by the lads, we all thought the worst! I'll take the occasional goalless draw. Slightly worrying was the lightweight bench, although it's interesting to see the amount of youngsters that Everton give chances to...

Pete May said...

We should have Noble, Byram and Carroll back next week and maybe Snodgrass and Feghouli. Dull game but like you I quite enjoyed seeing a solid defensive performance for once and on chances we should have won against a decent side.