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Premier League
Saturday, 2nd May 2015

West Ham United 1
Burnley 0

by Raedwulf


An unsatisfactory afternoon. A slightly scratchy, scrappy win, in a game spolit by a poor referreeing performance. Just to put the tin lid on it, we've more or less condemned our Northern claret cousins to relegation.

There's no doubt that Moss was right to award a penalty for Duff's clumsy felling of Kouyate. But a red card? Confusion reigned. Was it for denying a goal-scoring opportunity, or had Duff said something?

There was a long gap between the whistle and the card, and Duff had certainly had his say. What he was complaining about was more of a mystery, since it was a stonewall penalty. As it turned out, the card had nothing to do with dissent. Which was ridiculous.

There were a couple of defenders who, at worst, could have tried for sliding blocks, had Kouyate immediately shot. To send the Burnley man off for "denying" was incredibly harsh. Dyche is aggrieved, and quite right too.

Whilst it helped us, it also rather spoilt the game, nor was it Moss's last daft decision. Just before half time, Noble was penalised for a challenge in the centre circle that was very much a 50 / 50 ball. A minute later he was felled, yet a Burnley free-kick was awarded and the yellow card came out!

In the second half, of course, Downing was tripped in the box by Mee. It should have been another penalty, albeit a rather soft one. Yet again the decision goes Burnley's way, and our player is booked for diving. To even things up a little, Jenks had barged Ings over five minutes before Stewie's "dive". A clear foul; nothing given.

I'm not one for criticising ref's much, but this was pretty awful. Mr Moss is in charge of the FA Cup Final in a few weeks time. If he officiates like this, he'll ruin that match as well.

As to the game itself, Burnley's Achilles Heel all season long has been scoring. They created chances today, but failed to find the net yet again. Ings was busy up front, and Burke, I am sure, will have learnt much in his second Premier start. Ings, though, as far as I can remember, caused trouble but never hit the target.

Good old Mattie Taylor was perhaps the sharpest thorn in our flesh. His never-say-die attitude was on display as always. He played several dangerous balls into our box and, just before the hour, forced Adrian into a fine reaction save with his feet. He got well-deserved applause from all corners of the ground when subbed on 80 minutes. It was a bit of a relief to see him depart!

That save just before the hour was a match for one just after the half-hour, when our Spaniard stopped Barnes heading in from a Trippier corner. On the quarter hour, he wasn't troubled when Ings judged one of those Taylor crosses better than Burke, only to get slightly under the ball, sending it over.

Nevertheless, at full time, the stats read 36 shots against 10; 29 on target against only 8. A lot of those West Ham chances were more half-chances than anything, and Burnley were brave in defending, blocking about half of those. But, frankly, we ought to have scored more.

The game was inevitably distorted by the sending off, Burnley having to play more than an hour a man down. My feeling, still, was that we would have deserved the win against 11, though we often struggled to create good chances, despite all our possession, leaving the afore-mentioned feeling of a slightly scratchy, scrappy victory.

The move that won the penalty, was probably our best of the match. Valencia was involved in pretty much all of our best play, and was more instrumental in winning the penalty, perhaps, than Kouyate himself, who actually drew the foul.

Enner might have been subbed as early as the fifth minute. He went down with what looked like a twisted ankle that necessitated a good 90 seconds stoppage, still grimacing and hobbling when he finally got up.

He'd recovered by 20 minutes, though. Just after that, he picked up a longish pass on the left touchline, went past his man, deft footwork, stopped, came back a couple of yards. Played Kouyate in to the side of the 6 yard box, a neat dummy, an outstretched leg from Duff...

We are the last team to have scored a penalty this season in the Premiership. As far as I recall, we've only had one other so far, in the first game against Spurs. Nobes missed that; he wasn't going to miss this!

A couple of minutes later, Downing, erratic again, pulled a good ball back across the 6 yard line. Valencia took a step back towards the spot and forced a brilliant tip over from the impressive Heaton. Amalfitano, on a rare start, was energetic and creative. A good cross from him found Nolan on 38, but Valencia was offside from his header down.

Then Valencia was booked; another bad Moss decision; for catching Ings slightly with a leading arm when jumping for the ball. The half ended with Noble wrongly penalised twice, and booked for the second one.

The second started with Nolan nicking the ball wide when outside the near post. Amalfitano curled it just wide of the far post on 56. Two minutes later, he played a slightly heavy backheel. Cresswell still managed to reach it, and Nolan had another chance. It was wastefully hit almost straight at Heaton, though, and he saved comfortably.

The pressure continued to flow towards the visitor's goal, more chances and half chances resulted, but we couldn't find a second goal to kill the game off. Nene replaced Nolan on 78; Cole, Valencia on 82. Collins hit it over from a corner, Kouyate had one deflected behind, the very last action of the match was a Nene snapshot in the 3rd minute of stoppage, tipped over again by the excellent Heaton.

It was still not a great performance, but it was worth the three points. Burnley will surely appeal Duff's red card successfully. Too little, too late; the damage has been done. Three wins from three will still only carry them to 35pts, QPR are only a point better off.

Both are surely doomed. Which is a real shame for the honest, hard-working Lancastrians and the likeable Dyche. One of 5 clubs can still fill the last relegation spot, but the bottom two will not, I think, change before the season finishes.

As for us? Well, Valencia's tireless effort, his creativity, and his pivotal role in the penalty wins him my vote for Man of the Match. Adrian showed again why he is our No.1. Burke doubled his Premiership experience with a far from faultless but nevertheless decent display. Nolan - why are we bothering to pick him at this stage of the season? He is ineffective at best. Poyet is apparently off with the Uruguay U-20's now, but surely someone else should be given a chance?

The win takes us to 47 pts; by one, our highest total since our return to the top flight, still with 3 games to play. Villa away, Everton at home, and the currently shambolic Newcastle away remain.

The target for the season was, apparently, 50 points and a top half finish. That ought still to be within our grasp, but the way we've been playing lately anything could happen. We're treading water until the managerial uncertainty gets resolved. And that won't be until after the season's end.



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Player Ratings

Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
Is the ninth keeper in the PL to save three consecutive penalties, apparently. No-one's ever done four. May he wait long for a chance to set a new record! Made a couple of good stops. Bar one moment when he changed his mind about coming for a cross, was otherwise faultless.


Carl Jenkinson
Mostly out-shone by Cresswell this season, but not today. A good game, and plenty of opportunity to get forward.


Aaron Cresswell
Another one for whom "tidy game" seems apt.


Reece Burke
Tidy enough, if not faultless. Looks like he should be able to play, but content to mostly keep things simple. Which is probably wise at this early stage of his career!


James Collins
A solid, reassuring presence in the backline at the moment.


Morgan Amalfitano
Showed some real style and class at times, but not quite often enough to lift himself to a 7.


Cheikhou Kouyate
Great run to win the pen, and hard-working, as always.


Mark Noble
Put the miles in, as always, but has had better games. Scored the penalty this time, at least!


Stewart Downing
Did just enough to earn the "average" 6, though wasteful at times. Shouldn't have been booked.


Kevin Nolan
It's not that he doesn't try. He's just ineffective. Had a couple of chances, but shouldn't be starting, frankly.


Enner Valencia
Very lively, despite nearly going off after only 5 minutes. Lovely play to set up CK to win the penalty, foiled by a superb save, a nuisance all game long. MotM.


Substitutes


Nene
(Replaced Nolan) Almost worth a 7; did more in a quarter hour than Nolan did in an hour and a quarter.


Carlton Cole
(Replaced Valencia) Only had a 10-minute cameo, but had an impact all the same.


Jussi Jaaskelainen
Did not play.


Joey O Brien
Did not play.


Reece Oxford
Did not play.


Alex Song
Did not play.


Matt Jarvis
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Jonathan Moss.

Attendance: 34,946.

Man of the Match: Enner Valencia.

West Ham United

Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Reece Burke, James Collins, Morgan Amalfitano, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Stewart Downing, Kevin Nolan, Enner Valencia.

Goals: Mark Noble 24                  .

Booked: Enner Valencia 41 Mark Noble 44 Stewart Downing 60      .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Burnley

Tom Heaton, Ben Mee, Jason Shackell, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, George Boyd (Michael Keane 46), Matthew Taylor (Ross Wallace 81), Scott Arfield, David Jones, Ashley Barnes (Marvin Sordell 79), Danny Ings.

Substitutes: Michael Keane (George Boyd 46), Marvin Sordell (Ashley Barnes 79), Ross Wallace (Matthew Taylor 81).

Subs not used: Matthew Gilks, Steven Reid, Michael Kightly, Lukas Jutkiewicz.

Goals: n/a.

Booked: n/a.

Sent Off: Michael Duff (23).

 
Raedwulf's Man of the Match: Enner Valencia


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