Tuesday, 3rd December 2013
Carlton Cole got his first start of the season in a straight swap for the much improved Maiga. Ravel Morrison came into the starting line up in place of Matt Jarvis, with Mo Diame keeping his place in the Iron's midfield.
A thunderous atmosphere saw the home side start brightly without creating a multitude of chances. West Ham weathered the inevitable storm, before beginning to get a foothold in the game, dominating possession and creating useful chances.
It was a typical London derby, with lots of scrapping and balls being fought for and it really was a case of who wanted it more. That looked like West Ham for the most part of the first half, with Diame going close with a header over the bar and Nolan tapping the ball into the arms of the keeper Speroni, following a cute Mark Noble free kick.
It was a West Ham error that earned Crystal Palace a corner which was well executed by Barry Bannan but cleared by the West Ham defence. The ball fell nicely again to the corner taker, who whipped in a magnificent cross to leave the West Ham defence wrong-footed.
Add a deft Morouane Chamakh touch and it was 1-0 to Palace, with Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble left flailing hopelessly as the ball trickled past them and into the net. It was a hammer blow (no pun intended) for a team which had dominated possession in the first half but only managed one chance on target; the story of our season.
The second half began and despite a lot of huff and puff from the West Ham attack there was little final product as the Hammers flattered to deceive. Big Sam had seen enough of a lacklustre performance by Carlton Cole and another vital miss from Nolan and pulled them off in favour of Maiga and Joe Cole.
The pace of the game was difficult for Cole to keep up with but he hassled well, while Maiga didn't really have many chances in front of goal. In fact, it was Crystal Palace on the break who looked the more threatening and managed to create some chances which should have killed the game off. Cameron Jerome, clean through on goal saw his shot well saved by the diving Jussi before Jimmy Kebe netted, only to be ruled offside.
The major talking point of the game came from a West Ham corner where from Chamakh's clearance the ball fell to Downing who rifled the ball into Speroni's net only for Joey O'Brien to be penalised for shirt-pulling in the process. A bizarre decision, whereupon replay it appeared that O'Brien was having his shirt tugged too; indeed, West Ham could have had a penalty.
West Ham continued to knock on the door with no real force and found themselves wanting once again in the attacking department. Downing had a free kick saved low to his left by Speroni, but Palace's dogged defending and closing down kept West Ham at bay. Our attacks lacked any pace at all and as such our continuous attempts to pass through them fell flat on their face.
Big Sam will rue the disallowed goal however we should have had at least one goal in the first half, in particular Kevin Nolan's woeful strike which would have made the second half far more interesting. I wouldn't mind except this is the third time I have seen Nolan attempt a volley this season, through on goal, to no avail.
Luckily against Spurs and Fulham, it didn't matter.
Full credit to a Palace side invigorated by the appointment of Tony Pulis. They played their socks off and gave our playmakers (ahem) no time on the ball. In addition to this, the noise and atmosphere truly was something to behold at Selhurst Park. They refuse to lie down and I dare say there could be some interesting twists before the end of the season.
A very tough run of fixtures follow before the mercy of the transfer window. All talk is of Andy Carroll being back for the West Brom game on the 28th December, but I shall hold my breath on this one. If we can somehow snaffle five or six points in December, hopefully the new year will bring some fresh legs and momentum to what has been a disappointing season so far.
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Excellent saves kept us in the game - but should have come for Chamakh's goal.
Joey O Brien
Pfft...not really cut out at this level. Was let down by a string of poor Diame passes.
Some good passes out of defence.
Still rushes out, still worries me, when is Reid back?
Was harassed and didn't cope brilliantly tonight.
Very poor game from him today.
Our best player but got involved in niggles at the end of the game. Disappointing.
Better - although missed a sitter.
Played well and should have had his first goal.
Very poor today.
Nothing doing really.
Few chances again for him.
A strange substitution - did little wrong however.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Lee Mason.
Man of the Match: Ravel Morrison.
West Ham United
Jussi Jaaskelainen, Joey O Brien, Razvan Rat, James Collins, James Tomkins, Mark Noble, Mo Diame, Ravel Morrison, Kevin Nolan, Stewart Downing, Carlton Cole.
Booked: James Tomkins 67 Ravel Morrison 90 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Julian Speroni, Joel Ward, Danny Gabbidon, Damien Delaney, Dean Moxey, Jason Puncheon, Mile Jedinak, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Barry Bannan, Marouane Chamakh, Cameron Jerome.
Substitutes: Jimmy Kebe (Jason Puncheon 66), Stuart O'Keefe (Barry Bannan 82), Jonathan Williams (Marouane Chamakh 85).
Subs not used: Adrian Mariappa, Lewis Price, Dwight Gayle, Kevin Phillips.
Goals: Chamakh (42).
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..