Filed: Tuesday, 17th April 2012
By: Preview Percy
Next up we tiptoe carefully over the Hammersmith Flyover (lest it crumble beneath our feet) and on to the M4 for our visit to Ashton Gate, home of Bristol City. Kick-off is 7.45pm.
Our hosts are currently one of the better placed teams in the fight to avoid the drop to Division Three. (I REFUSE to call it 'League 1'). They have 44 points from 43 games which leaves them four points clear of the trapdoor slot currently held by Coventry, whose goal difference is nine goals better. Above the Robins lie Forest and Barnsley who are both a point better off.
Current form is on the mixed side although they only have one defeat in their last six, a 2-0 home reverse to Watford. Of the remaining five fixtures they have won two (3-1 at home to fellow strugglers Coventry and 1-0 away to fellow strugglers Forest) and drawn three (both 1-1 at home to Derby and away to Boro’ in addition to the weekend’s 2-2 draw at St Andrews, a match in which they led 2-0). So, as the Hard-Fi song goes, “Hard To Beat” then.
When we last met back on Halloween boss Derek McInnes was but a week or two in the job. They went through a good spell about that time but, current form notwithstanding, they do find themselves with one eye over their shoulders at the moment, which possibly makes the headline “The Derek McInnes Revival” that appears on their Wikipedia page a bit of a “fate-tempter”. Either that or it’s a reference to one of those jazz combos that used to play residences at Ronnie Scott’s place – I believe the classic line-up included Sid Mildew on vibraphone.
That last defeat came over a month ago when Watford were set on their way by a 15th minute own goal by 41 year-old ex-Hammer David James, who punched a clearance into his own net. Since then James has been on the bench with the brilliantly-named Dean Gerken (who, if he isn’t known as ‘Wally’, damn well ought to be) taking over between the posts during their five game unbeaten spell. James’ earlier comments about hoping that joining City would resurrect his England career seem to have been as optimistic as my hoping to see Ashley Young go 20 minutes without diving,
Their top scorer won’t be adding to his tally of eight goals in all competitions this season. Nicky Maynard headed the right way along the M4 and Hammersmith flyover in our direction as the transfer window shut back in January. The top goalscorer amongst those still plying their trade at Ashton Gate is Brett Pitman.
Pitman, a Jerseyman, arrived in Bristol from Bournemouth at the start of the 2010-11 season for a reported fee of c£1m, a fee that raised a few eyebrows in Blackpool who had apparently agreed a fee of about £600,000 only to see the deal fall through when they were unable to agree personal terms with the player. He has 7 goals this season, one fewer than Maynard, and all of these have come in the league where 24 of his 36 appearances have come from the bench. He is, however, someone about whom we shall not have to worry as he’s part way through a three-match ban.
Also up front they have Jon Stead who has been about a bit over the years. He was on the scoresheet against Birmingham and was on the scoresheet twice against Coventry, though his first mention in the ledgers was accompanied by the initials 'OG' in brackets afterwards. Per their official website he’s desperate to put one over on us as we did him out of a Premier League spot in 2007 when he played for Sheffield United.
Strangely, there’s no mention of the 10 point gap he and his then team-mates let slip. Or his part in the highly suspicious stitch-up match between his lot and Wigan that would have seen us relegated had we rolled over at Old Trafford. Like Stead, I can’t think for the life of me why a player with five goals in 23 games for the side that is fourth from bottom of the second tier hasn’t been snapped up by the top clubs seeking the Premier League striker he so clearly is. Administrative oversight I guess.
Stead is joined on 5 goals for the season by Ghanaian striker Adomah who has the forename Albert – note to Mr & Mrs Pitman THAT’s a proper name for a footballer. “Brett” indeed.
David James is not the only Hammer-connected player in the squad. Jordan Spence is on a season long loan from us and would not have been eligible for selection, even had the player been more in favour than his eleven appearances this season would suggest - he doesn’t appear to have featured since City’s 1-0 defeat to Crawley in the Cup back in January.
Someone we’re more likely to see is Hogan Ephraim. Ephraim started out his career at the Boleyn, though first team opportunities were severely limited, something that saw him go out on loan to Colchester and QPR. The Shepherds Bush mob signed him on a permanent deal back in 2008 and although he’s clocked up nearly 100 league appearances for the hoopy lot he’s been in and out on loan in more recent times, with Charlton and Leeds both making use of his services on a temporary basis. He made the trek to the West Country in March and scored on his debut in the 1-1 draw against Boro’.
And so to us. That was rather good last weekend wasn’t it?! It was made even sweeter by the fact that Gus Poyet was unable to use the excuse relating to styles of play that he’d trotted out after the match at their place to deflect attention from the factthat his side had barely mustered a shot worthy of the name over the 90 minutes, a feat that they repeated in Saturday’s 6-0 drubbing. On Saturday we took the game to the opponents and made them worry about us, rather than vice-versa and, hopefully, it is a lesson learned.
Team news is that Linda’s concussion makes him a doubt and he, along with Joey O’Brien face fitness tests. Other than that the squad should be populated by those who were available at the weekend, there being no further knocks or niggles arising from Saturday’s exertions.
This will be an interesting one. They’re in a bit of a spot and, having let a 2-0 lead slip at the weekend there’s likely to be a slight downer in the camp. Having said that, as the reverse fixture proved, they can be difficult to break down. There will be an element of 'stick or twist' amongst the hosts – whilst a win would go some way to pushing them towards safety they’ll be conscious that we’ve hit 13 in our last three matches and, with Barnsley and Burnley to come, they may elect for a cautious approach.
For our part we’ll be working on the assumption that we have to win every macth. Events elsewhere will be irrelevant – what will be, as Doris Day used to say, will be. Even if results at other grounds are not in our favour, three good wins (ok four counting Saturday) will send a message to anyone else we happen to come across if we end up in the playoffs – and the confidence factor on our own part is something that should not be underestimated.
Prediction? Well we’re on a high at the moment so the Avram Grant Rest Home for the Bewildered charity fund (£2.50) is going on a 3-1 win to us. Let’s have a gander at other places after the final whistle.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met: Drew 0-0. Last November saw us fail to break down a resolute Robins defence. Statistics apparently proved that we battered them throughout. David James’ lack of match saving activity suggested otherwise.
Referee: Craig Pawson. First time in charge of one of our games. He’s spent most of this season doing games in the third & fourth divisions – this will be his 8th match at this level. Let’s hope that news of the refereeing embargo against giving us clear penalties hasn’t reached down that far.
Danger Man: John Stead. Apparently a premier league striker – and we’re supposed be deluded. Still he has an agenda which may turn him from one of those journeymen that somehow has a good game against us.
Daft Fact Of The Week: Author JK Rowling was born just outside Bristol. Apparently one of the characters in the hugely popular Harry Potter series of books has a West Ham poster on his wall at Hogwarts. I wouldn’t know. I’m a grown-up.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
Head to Head
Pld 29; West Ham Utd 16, Bristol City 4, Draws 9.
9th October 1984: West Ham Utd 6-1 Bristol City (Boleyn Ground, League Cup Second Round)
1st November 1980: West Ham Utd 5-0 Bristol City (Boleyn Ground, Division Two)
6th September 1955: Bristol City 3-1 West Ham Utd (Ashton Gate, Division Two)
25th December 1919: West Ham Utd 2-0 Bristol City (Boleyn Ground, Division Two)
Last Five Meetings
1st November 2011: West Ham Utd 0-0 Bristol City (Boleyn Ground, Championship)
27th January 1993: West Ham Utd 2-0 Bristol City (Boleyn Ground, Division One)
15th September 1992: Bristol City 1-5 West Ham Utd (Ashton Gate, Division One)
20th March 1991: West Ham Utd 1-0 Bristol City (Boleyn Ground, Division Two)
13th October 1990: Bristol City 1-1 West Ham Utd (Ashton Gate, Division Two)
15th September 1992: Bristol City 1-5 West Ham Utd (Ashton Gate, Division One)
The match was a one-sided affair as Billy Bonds' West Ham, on their way to a second-placed finish and an instant return to the top flight blitzed the Robins. Mark Robson opened the scoring after just six minutes with his first goal of the season before strikes from Trevor Morley and Clive Allen sent the Hammers into an unassailable 3-0 half time lead. Full back Martin Scott gave City a glimmer of hope when he pulled one back nine minutes into the second half but another goal each for Allen and Morley in the last five minutes secured the Irons' biggest ever win at Ashton Gate. However it wasn't such a great night for first team coach Harry Redknapp who missed the bus back to London as he was being interviewed by the Police in relation to gestures made towards the home fans during the game.
They Played For Both
Jordan Spence; Joe Durrell; David James; Ralph Milne; Bobby Gould; Jack Landells; Albert Carnelly; Hugh Monteith; Leroy Rosenior; Ray Atteveld; David Noble; Gavin Williams; Nicky Morgan.
August 1970: Bristol City 1-0 West Ham Utd (Ashton Gate)
You're Off! Previous Red Cards
Frank McAvennie (h) 1990-91.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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