Tuesday, 1st January 2013
The glorious sunshine over E13 seemed a little too bright for one or two people who had clearly overdone the Hogmanay celebrations. I’d had a quiet one myself so apologies for the smugness to anyone I met who was still suffering. Team news was that Collins and Nolan were missing through suspension, meaning a move to the centre of defence for Tomkins and a recall to right back for Demel. Noble had the armband in Nolan’s absence and there were starts for Collison and Vaz Te: Starting line-up: JJ, Demel, O’Brien, Tomkins, Reid, Noble, Collison, Taylor, Jarvis, Vaz Te, Cole.
Well after the Reading game we needed a bright start and we got it. Jarvis won a corner on the left. Noble took, cleared the first man for once but the ‘keeper punched, the ball falling to Demel. Demel hooked the ball back into the box where Bennett decided to remove Reid’s shirt. Now I haven’t got an awful lot of time for Mark Clattenburg – he’s been living off the back of an awful lot of goodwill in the light of Chelsea’s disgraceful (and depressingly predictably unpunished) actions, but this has tended to cover the fact that he’s generally not a very good referee. However, on this occasion, he was spot on.
The challenge had me and my neighbour Trevor on our feet well before the whistle went, though I’ll admit I was surprised it was given. Not because it wasn’t a penalty (it was) but (warning name drop alert coming up) as I was saying to John Salako after the match (I did warn you), it was one of those over which you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid had a free-kick been awarded for it outside the box. All too often referees bottle such decisions when the incident takes place in the box, applying some sort of unofficial grading system safe in the knowledge that nobody can criticize them without incurring a hefty FA fine. Maybe it’s a 2013 new year’s resolution by referees to apply the laws of the game properly but whatever the reason fair play to Clattenburg for having the guts to give it.
After some delay whilst Norwich protested that the referee’s unofficial grading system meant it wasn’t a penalty, Noble dispatched the spot kick with his usual efficiency to send us 1-0 up with fewer than 2 minutes played.
We ought to have had a second spot kick a few minutes later when Bassong hauled Cole and threw him to the floor in the box in an off the ball incident that, presumably, Clattenburg missed. Cole then fashioned another chance – similar to that he scored against Everton – but this time found only the arms of ‘keeper Bunn.
Norwich produced little in the first 45 though they went close on 20 minutes. Collison was penalised for handball and Snodgrass’s free-kick from about 28 yards beat the wall, beat JJ but found the goalpost in unforgiving mood. From the resulting throw the ball was launched into the box and Norwich appealed for their own penalty. The ball did hit Reid’s hand but only because he was being pulled backwards to the floor by Bassong at the time – a fact conveniently ignored by Canaries’ boss Hughton in his post-match whine. Clattenburg gave neither the foul nor the non-existent penalty and the loose ball was miskicked harmlessly wide by Pilkington.
We came close again on 23 minutes. Demel got down the right and crossed for Collison whose challenge in the air was slightly blocked, Collison reacted first to the falling ball and stabbed it goalward. The ball seemed to have beaten Bunn but his long arm just managed to keep it out. However the second was not long in coming – yet again there was a lot of unjustified whining about it.
Cole won an aerial challenge – quite fairly – but landed on Tattey in the process. Tattey was obviously winded – well you would be with a lot of Carlton Cole landing on you from a great height wouldn’t you. However play continued. Jarvis and Taylor combined on the left, O’Brien kept it alive, Noble jinked his way to the byline putting the ball into the middle Cole, and/or a defender played it back into the path of O’Brien who slotted home to double the lead.
It should have been three. Taylor’s vicious drive was turned over by Bunn before it really really should have been three. Noble played a delicious ball inside the left back for Demel to play across the face of the goal. Cole slid in and, well let’s just say he missed and leave it at that shall we?
A half we’d dominated came to an end after two added minutes, a period that seemed a tad short given that we’d had delays over the spot kick and for the injury to Tattey. As the players went off Hughton was seen giving Clattenburg an earful in the tunnel, more of which shortly.
Our Jem will, no doubt, have been relieved to have been spared the task of introducing some internet dance craze or interviewing some airhead from a tv “reality” show. I certainly was relieved to have been spared the dubious merits of someone trying to sell me seafood by rap and was thus able to enjoy the much more pleasurable experience of catching up with Alf Garnett’s Ex Missus, currently paying a visit back from Hong Kong.
The second half commenced and a noteable trend began to develop. Snodgrass threw himself to the floor on our left hand side. Now call me cynical but the dive had all the hallmarks of someone who’d just heard a team talk that went “I’ve been in the referee’s ear and told him what a soft penalty that was so he’ll have half a mind to even things up. Make sure you go to ground easily”. Thankfully the team talk didn’t contain the words “don’t get offside” and the flag went straight up from the free-kick.
Further cynical eyebrows were raised shortly after as Hoolihan played a ball inside Tomkins. Tomkins maintained his line, Kane went across the defender then went down like the proverbial sack of spuds. Contact there may have been but it appeared to have been instigated by Kane who clearly has been taking lessons from Gareth Bale. Clattenburg was as unimpressed as we were, though Kane can think himself lucky to have got the benefit of the doubt over the yellow his actions probably merited.
Though we were sitting back we still looked the likelier to score – especially on the break as they tried to push forward. Taylor brought the ball out and after the eventual cross fell to Collison, Noble’s effort was diverted wide for the corner. Taylor’s delivery was dangerous but nobody got the touch.
It was about this time that ‘keeper Bunn endeared himself to the Bobby Moore stand, apparently for having a go at a ball boy who took a nanosecond to long to retrieve the ball. Bun was roundly booed from that moment on.
Norwich were appealing for everything – Snodgrass’s whine at a lino for giving a corner when he’d clearly got the last two touches just added to the suspicion over the content of the half time team talk.
Poor old Vaz Te appeared to be trying to make amends for his miss against Reading and came close to doing so on 63 minutes, heading Taylor’s fine delivery back across goal, only to see the ball rebound to safety off the post.
With 20 left O’Neil replaced JO’B, prompting Taylor to drop back to left-back. Ten minutes later the luckless RVT went off to be replaced by Maiga.We continued to look the more dangerous. Jarvis went down the left only to see his cross blocked for the corner. Cole got on the end of Noble’s better than usual delivery but put his header wide.
Norwich’s efforts at this stage of the game were confined to sticking the ball into the back of the STB or, on one memorable occasion, actually hitting the front of the upper tier – it must actually be easier to put the ball into the crowd than to do that.
With five left we made our final change, Spence replacing Jarvis whose second half had been much quieter than his first.
As the 90minutes were up the visitors pulled one back. Bennett (E)’s low cross from their right was nicely volleyed home by Martin, the defender who has now scored three times in two matches.
A few nerves were jangling as three minutes of stoppage were announced but we got through it with probably less anxiety that the crowd were feeling and the first three points of the year were in the bag.
That’ll do – the first half especially. It would have been nice to have seen the same sort of domination in the second period but hey you can’t have everything. With players coming back and others to come in during the window I reckon we’ll be comfortable enough. I suppose a nice cup run would be too much to ask for?!
Happy New Year!
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Had barely anything to to if truth be told.
Got forward well but seemed to be at a loss as to what to do with the ball once in good position.
Joey O Brien
Steady performance at left back from Mr Reliable.
Looks much happier when he’s playing centre back.
Superb. Again. MOTM.
Just shaded for MOTM by Reid but nevertheless he bossed the game. Another fine penalty.
Good to see him back – not a bad game either.
Some fine deliveries – not least from corners, some of which caused panic in the visiting defence.
Fine first half but faded a bit after the interval.
Ricardo Vaz Te
Looked like last week’s miss was preying on his mind and. As a result, looked guilty of sometimes trying TOO hard. Nothing quite worked.
Generally ok but was guilty of a miss that – in his own words – his Mum would have put away. Needs to get over it (see comments on RVT).
Gary O Neil
(Replaced O'Brien, 71)
Did ok. One lovely dummy in a sweeping move that sadly came to naught.
(Replaced Vaz Te, 82)
Not much to write home about in the eight minutes plus stoppage he was on.
(Replaced Jarvis, 85)
Another quiet sub cameo.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg.
Man of the Match: Winston Reid.
West Ham United
Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel , Joey O Brien, James Tomkins, Winston Reid, Mark Noble, Jack Collison, Matt Taylor, Matt Jarvis, Ricardo Vaz Te, Carlton Cole.
Goals: Mark Noble 3 Joey O Brien 26 .
Sent off: None.
Mark Bunn, Russell Martin, Sebastien Bassong, Michael Turner, Ryan Bennett, Robert Snodgrass, Jonny Howson, Alexander Tettey, Anthony Pilkinton, Wes Hoolahan, Harry Kane.
Substitutes: Elliott Bennett (Wes Hoolahan 70), Simeon Jackson (Harry Kane 70), David Fox (Jonny Howson 83).
Subs not used: Declan Rudd, Leon Barnett, Marc Tierney, Korey Smith.
Goals: Russell Martin (90).
Sent Off: None.