Saturday, 17th October 2015
It’s not often I agree with Preview Percy on things but I have to say I’m with him when it comes to the London Borough Of Croydon in general, and its resident football club. Neither of which would be missed much were they to disappear.
The general demeanour of the place can be gauged from the reaction of the club which banter with the few locals who can string sentences coherent enough to gain them admission to said club. Only this year they informed us that we’d not be allowed in post-match as usual. Of course they only told us this AFTER we’d spent the thick end of £200 over the bar. I suspect that £200 may be helping out some other venue in future.
Team news was that, despite optimistic noises to the contrary, Reid was hors de combat, Ginge came in to partner Tomkins. A strong bench saw attacking options in the form of Carroll, Valencia, Zarate and Jelavic. All of which left us with a starting line-up of Adrian, Jenkinson, Cresswell, Tomkins, Collins, Noble, Kouyate, Lanzini, Payet, Moses, Sakho.
I missed the first five minutes or so. Despite arriving in good time for kick off, as usual they seemed surprised that 3,000 or so away fans who had bought tickets for the match might actually want to turn up and watch it. The poorly appointed away section has too few entrances for the numbers it accommodates and matters were not helped by their security’s insistence on conducting unnecessarily detailed searches of every single patron. I’ve had easier times boarding a plane.
By the time I got in I was catching up with a pattern of a game that saw them mainly reliant on the tactic of getting it out wide quickly, whilst we were more measured in our possession, and the first chance I actually got to see saw Hennessy saving low at his near post from Payet after Sakho had battled well to keep an apparently defunct move alive.
Shortly after saw Palace gain, well let’s call it a quarter chance as Bolassie went down their right. His low cross should have been dealt with by Collins but Ginge’s airshot caused a spot of mild consternation as the ball came through to Puncheon but the midfielder dallied and the ball was eventually cleared.
We took the lead on 22 minutes. Moses picked up the ball centrally about 25 yards out. Jenkinson’s superb run outside Zaha, who had dropped back to the full-back position, was matched by the excellence of Moses’ ball inside the same player which allowed Jenkinson to prod the ball past Hennessy in a manner reminiscent of DiCanio’s “taxi for Barthez” effort all those years ago.
Or, if you prefer the rather bizarre description of the goal in the Independent On Sunday proffered by a chap called Tom Peck, Jenkinson rose for a “header in the six-yard box to score his second in two games”. I KNOW I was on diet Pepsi all lunchtime Mr Peck so I’m fairly happy that (for a change) my version is slightly more accurate!
We’d barely had time to get the celebrations started when parity had been restored. A Zaha flick looked like it was about to be cleared by Jenkinson ahead of Gayle when there was one of those cartoon moments where they show a cloud of arms and legs to signify a fight.
From our vantage point it was impossible to tell what had occurred but Clattenburg’s reaction was hair-trigger, pointing straight at the spot. Unusually they showed the incident at half time on the big screen and it looked dodgy then and, having now seen the proper replay of it, did look a lot as if Jenkinson was sinned against rather than the sinner.
Cabaye took the spot-kick. A word of advice to any youngsters out there. You’ll see mild encroachment at any number of penalties so, if you insist on doing it, I’d suggest not running so far into the box that you actually block the referee’s view of the spot kick. Even our notoriously poor officials might spot that one. Hell, even Clattenburg spotted Gayle’s encroachment, being as it was, about three feet in front of him.
Gayle was scarcely less deep inside the box for the retake but Clattenburg, presumably mindful of a gig he had to attend or something, decided that he didn’t fancy hanging around Croydon until the wee small hours for Gayle to work out which side of the line he had to be and despite Adrian’s best efforts the second try counted.
This of course prompted the playing of the Dave Clark Five’s “Glad All Over” and being Crystal Palace the crowd loved it – in case they weren’t already aware a chant from the away support of “that’s just embarrassing” should have let them know what the rest of the football world thinks of such muppetry.
The game started to open up a bit more. Sakho left Jedinak for dead and found Payet whose shot was blocked by a defender.Payet kept it all alive and forced a corner which was only partly cleared. Payet and Moses combined on the left and Sakho was unable to get much purchase on the pull-back, his effort being blocked for another corner. This one was cleared to the edge of the box where Moses pull-down and turn were deserving of a better shot than the one that went high into the crowd.
You may have got the impression from my comments re the penalty that Dwight Gayle may not be the sharpest tool in the box. If you were undecided on the point the events of the next few minutes should settle the argument once and for all. As we broke out of defence he lunged in on Payet with a nasty little challenge from behind, rightly being rewarded for his efforts with a yellow. Clattenburg gave the player a long talking to, suggesting perhaps that the player might have been close to a straight red.
Undeterred Gayle then gave Adrian a sly shove in the back as the ‘keeper let the ball run out for a goal kick. Again I was too far away to eavesdrop but if I had to hazard a guess I’d say that Adrian was probably warning the player not to be anywhere in the vicinity the next time a cross came over.
So, on a yellow and already in the referee’s cross hairs, Gayle went for broke, diving in on Kouyate to earn himself a second yellow that would only have been more stupid had it been given for the removal of his shirt. Palace had not exactly been the most attack-minded of teams up to that point and the draw became the priority for the home side.
This meant that the last few minutes of the half were played in their half. Noble and Moses combined in similar fashion to the way Moses had earlier set Jenkinson up (my version not the Independent On Sunday’s),
Moses pulled his shot across the face of the goal. The ball was eventually cleared to Lanzini whose sublime flick over Cabaye saw him having a shot deflected wide for a corner. Jenkinson then got into similar territory whence he had scored the opener (again my version not the Indy’s) but, like Moses earlier he pulled his shot across goal and that was about it for the half.
The half time entertainment was, supposedly, the Crystals, although there were half a dozen of them and they didn’t do “Da Do Ron Ron” so I have my doubts as to their authenticity. There was also a charity thing that involved some woman who, we were told, we “might know from TV”. We didn’t, mainly because life really is too short to be watching QVC, unless you’re from Croydon where presumably that sort of thing qualifies as entertainment.
The second half saw a pattern emerge as Palace, unsurprisingly, set out their stall to try and defend the point. They were doing a good job of it too as, although we were doing the right thing by spreading the play, their midfield were dropping deep to almost give an eight-man defence leaving Bolasie on his lonesome up front.
Just after the hour Bilic decided that a new approach was required and took the brave step of replacing the skipper in the middle with Carroll to give us something different up front. It wasn’t that Noble had done anything wrong in the match, it was just that what he had been bringing to the party wasn’t needed. A brave move and one that paid off. Eventually.
Clear cut chances were still at a premium though. The closest we got in this spell was Sakho’s header from a Jenkinson cross that hit the metalwork. A similar cross from the right saw Carroll control but slip at the vital moment, the move coming to an end as he tugged back a clearing defender.
The home side were still proving difficult to break down so with little more than a quarter of an hour left Zarate replaced Moses, whose influence had been on the wane.
Despite the promptings of the tireless Lanzini we were still struggling to cut through the home defence so Bilic gave the deck one last shuffle as Jelavic replaced Sakho who, as usual had run himself into the ground. It turned out to be the final piece of the jigsaw as all three subs were involved in the goal that gave us the lead.
Payet played a short ball to Zarate who ran at the defence into the right hand side of the box before crossing towards the back post on the turn. Carroll headed back across goal where Jelavic appeared to get a touch and Lanzini pounced to bury the loose ball from a few yards out.
Zarate could have made it three almost straight from the restart but his shot from Payet’s intelligent pull-back from the byline was wayward.
As you can imagine Palace had little option to try and press forward and given our tradition in recent years for giving away I suppose those of us watching may have been a little nervy. However, although they poured forward as best they could there was little to stir the pulse and as the four minutes of stoppage came to an end we made it three.
Zarate fed Lanzini who fed Payet in the space vacated by those who had ventured forward. Payet went into the box and his feigned shot fooled Hennessy who went to ground only for Payet to chip the ball over him to end proceedings once and for all.
There wasn’t time for the restart, not that many of the self-styled best supporters in the country would have realised this, with many of them having legged it as soon as they had gone 2-1 down. There’s more to supporting a club than mindlessly following an idiot with a drum.
It’s always nice to come away from that place with a win – there will be many that don’t this season. Particularly pleasing was the way we didn’t lose patience despite the length of time it took to make the breakthrough. Credit to the manager too for the adventurous nature of the substitutions. Which made the win, ultimately, possible.
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Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Always difficult to give a meaningful mark to a ‘keeper who ultimately had one shot – the penalty – to deal with. He nearly saved that as well.
The finish for the goal was better than one might have expected from a right back. A bit unlucky with the penalty.
Not really tested, especially after the sending-off. Got forward well throughout.
A couple of shaky moments early on but had a fine second half when he kept the luckless Bolasie under lock and key.
Coped well with the Palace attack in the first half and just had mopping up to do in the second half.
Is it me or will Song have a job to get into our midfield when he finally regains fitness?
As I say he didn’t do anything wrong, per se, it was just that his particular talents were surplus to requirements in the second half.
Odd one really he drifted in and out of things but to his credit it was his clever ball that set up Jenkinson for the first.
Payet has been getting all the “best signing” plaudits but this chap has been a revelation. Yes his undoubted skills catch the eye but next time you watch him have a look at the donkey work he gets through to track back, Deserved the goal as reward for the hard work. MOTM.
Another decent game for a player who, according to those responsible for the French national team, isn’t as good as Cabaye. Part of me is glad, given our habit of seeing players come back from international duty with injuries, however that must be one hell of a squad they have over the channel.
Worked his socks off yet again with little reward other than keeping things live up front.
(Replaced) Asked a different type of question of the Palace defence, one to which, ultimately, they had no answer.
(Replaced) A few of the usual blind alleys but his cross that led up to the goal was superb.
(Replaced) Two touches worthy of note. One set up Lanzini for the second. The other earned him a daft yellow for kicking the ball away towards the end.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg.
Man of the Match: Manuel Lanzini.
West Ham United
Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, James Collins, James Tomkins, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Victor Moses, Manuel Lanzini, Dimitri Payet, Diafra Sakho.
Goals: Carl Jenkinson 22 Manuel Lanzini 88 Dimitri Payet 90 .
Booked: James Tomkins 0 Dimitri Payet 0 Nikica Jelavic 0 .
Sent off: None.
Subs not used: .
Sent Off: None sent off..