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Premier League
Saturday, 2nd April 2016

West Ham United 2
Crystal Palace 2

by Gordon Thrower


Is there a single honest or competent referee in the select group? Apparently not.

Having finished laughing at Roy Hodgson’s April fool joke – Lallana and Henderson are England players? That’s a cracker Roy – we returned to proper football. There was good injury news with Tomkins back on the bench. Team: Adrian, Antonio, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Reid, Kouyate, Noble, Lanzini, Payet, Eminike, Sakho.

We started brightly enough but it became clear very early on that whatever was on Clattenburg’s agenda behaving in an honest manner for 90 minutes wasn’t on it. Eminike picked up a ball on the right side of midfield and embarked on a run on goal that was ended when a shove in the back saw him end up on the floor. It was not given by Clattenburg and at that very moment I told my neighbour that Clattenburg would not let us win this match if he could possibly get away with it. I was right.

After Antonio had had a snapshot saved and the officials had ended a promising run by Sakho onto Payet’s fine ball by deciding that being played a yard onside by only three defenders wasn’t nearly enough for them to be not waving the flag, the visitors took a totally undeserved lead thanks an awful cock-up by Adrian.

Lanzini got shoved off the ball which predictably was ignored by Clattenburg. Bolasie went down under similar contact to that suffered by Eminike earlier on. That was adjudged to have been a foul. The free-kick was swung in and Adrian made a complete mess of things. It looked to be going wide but, apparently unsure of his bearings, the ‘keeper clawed the ball back into play and onto Delaney’s head to give away a goal that had no redeeming properties about it whatsoever. It’ll probably win their goal of the season. It woke up their laughable “ultra” support for a minute anyway – though they soon went back to silence.

The thing is that these days, if we go behind there’s always a feeling that it’s only temporary and so it proved. Kouyate spread the ball out wide to Antonio who made space for himself before crossing to the back post. Sakho headed back across goal Dann’s foot in came to Lanzini who thumped home a low powerful shot in at the post.

Lanzini and Payet were beginning to pull the strings – the former fed the latter whose run across goal ended up with a shot that he caught cleanly but was easily dealt with by Hennessy.

On a rare foray forward for the visitors Kouyate tidied up and found himself on the end of a petulant shove in the back from Sako which, although spotted, didn’t get the yellow card it deserved, though, had the situations been reversed, my suspicions were that the card would have been all too quick to appear.

With 25 played a Payet run was ended prematurely by Zaha taking his legs from under him. About 25 yards out, slightly left of centre the world of football was rocked to its feet when Payet actually put the ball a few feet over.

Those suspicions on Clattenburg were confirmed on 28 minutes when Noble was punished for a sliding tackle that was so clean you could have allowed it to have taken place in an operating theatre. It took the ball and was vaguely reminiscent of the tackle that got him ludicrously sent-off up at Anfield. It wasn’t even a foul so why Clattenburg gave one you’ll have to ask him. Just to add to the list of highly dubious decisions against us in the match Clattenburg showed undisguised glee in awarding a yellow card. Clearly Clattenburg had come to the ground with the intention of dismissing somebody and he was going to give himself every opportunity to do so.

Reid was next into the book for a block on Bolasie. The funny thing about Palace is that, for a team managed by someone who was so vociferous a few weeks ago on the subject of players going to ground so easily, their players seem to get their kits dirtier from rolling around the floor than they do from actual play. Predictably, a few minutes later when Ledley was guilty of an identical challenge on Kouyate, Clattenburg’s yellow stayed in its pocket.

We ought to have taken the lead on 38 minutes. One of Payet’s better corners of the day saw Hennessy caught in two minds. Sakho got into good position but put was effect a free header wide. However, a deserved lead was not long in coming.

Payet’s run was brought to an end by Ward’s lunge a yard outside the box. There was a hum of expectation from the crowd as Palace erected a wall containing no fewer than 7 players. It was a wall that turned out to be about as much use as a Spurs fan on a pub quiz team. The only thing to say about the free-kick is that it went into the opposite corner to the one that everyone had been expecting. To be honest, I’m running out of superlatives to describe these free-kicks. I’ve used wonderful, superb and magnificent in recent months and I can’t think of a way of describing it further. Hell you’ve all seen the goal make your own superlative up. Me? I’ll stick with “bloody marvellous” this time around.

The interval was spent with a sort of parade of Overseas Hammers marching around the club, plus there were a few quotes from Mabel Arnold celebrating her centenary. She didn’t look too bad for someone born before the DFS sale had started – one wonders how young she wold look if she hadn’t been supporting West Ham all those years. Hats off to you ma’am.

So the second half commenced and whilst we were looking comfortable we weren’t as slick with the passing as we had been in the first half. After a largely uneventful 15 minutes or so in which Lanzini brought a save out of Hennessey we made our first change with Carroll replacing the largely ineffective Eminike.

Still looking comfortabl what could possibly go wrong. Clattenburg, that’s what. It was a mad five minutes all round. Kouyate, who up to then hadn’t put a foot wrong, played a back pass back to Adrian. The ‘keeper beat the advancing forward but the ball ended up with Sako on the edge of the box. With Adrian stranded Sako’s shot was goalbound but Cresswell had anticipated the situation and got back well to clear off the line.

Clearly Palace needed help so Clattenburg gave it to them. With his dodgy back pass still possibly on his mind, Kouyate mis-controlled the ball and stretched to win it back. That he did with a spot of contact on Gayle resulting on the follow through. Nothing serious. Arguably not a foul. Clattenburg disagreed and, given the chance to brandish the red card he’d clearly been looking to show all afternoon he flourished it with that “pleased with himself” look that he has on his face all the time. There was not one single person in the ground who thought that the challenge merited a red card. Including Clattenburg himself probably.

The haste with which the card came out gave away the fraudulent and prejudged nature of the card which ought to be rescinded with the full costs of any hearing being taken out of Clattenburg’s bloated and unearned match fee. Unless sanity prevails Kouyate faces a three match ban which will include the home matches against Arsenal and Man Utd (in the cup replay) and the trip to Leicester. Let’s hope there’s a rare gimpse of sanity within the cooridors at Wembley then – though past form suggests that it’ll be down to the toss of a coin.

The dismissal didn’t alter the course of the planned substitution of Sakho, who was replaced by Valencia. However, the sending-off gave a poor Palace side a bit of confidence and that, coupled with some dreadful defending got them back into the game.

Souare’s cross was missed by Reid and, possibly put off by his team-mate’s attempt at a clearance, Ogbonna played his own clearance straight back at the Kiwi. The ball rebounded kindly for Gayle who gave Adrian no chance.

With ten minutes left Noble came off to be replaced by Obiang. It was a sensible move. With a referee with a pre-arranged agenda on the pitch Noble was only one more perfectly fair challenge away from another fraudulent red card so it was safest to keep him out of Clattenburg’s way.

We were treated to one final example of Clattenburg’s interpretation of the laws of the game. As the game was petering out Valencia got the better of Sako. Sako kicked out at Valencia. It was a deliberate kick that had nothing to do with getting the ball and was a deliberate attempt to injure an opponent. Once again Clattenburg ignored the laws of the game and issued only a yellow, showing once and for all that he had no interest in the good of the game as long as all the headlines were about him.the equally corrupt

That was about it.

That’s four games in a row where potentially match changing decisions have gone against us. These have been mostly down to incompetence – Madley who handed Chelsea their point the other week -is clearly not up to the job and needs more training. However, performances like Clattenburg’s are not down to incompetence. He knows exactly what he is doing and the incorrect decisions given are usually deliberate and clearly made with some sort of intention of keeping himself in the spotlight. We’ve ended up talking about him rather than the marvellous goal from Payet and you just know that that’s just the way Clattenburg wants it.

Clattenburg’s performance left a nasty taste in the mouth. In a sane world it would cost him his match fee and see him sitting out a suspension with a warning as to his future behaviour. It had all the hallmarks of someone with one eye on the autobiography he intends to write on retirement – no doubt with the assistance of the management agency he is currently looking for to handle his affairs, his previous choice having been blocked due to obvious conflicts of interest.

Still nothing will happen. One day a so-called celebrity referee like Clattenburg will have a game like this and the motivation will be instruction from dodgy betting syndicate rather than from some perverse self-promotion fetish. And nobody will notice it happening because it happens every week. Maybe then someone will question the wisdom of allowing someone with a history of financial problems to be considered a fit and proper person to officiate in the game.



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Player Ratings

Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
A shocker for the first. No chance with the second.


Michail Antonio
I prefer him further forward to be honest. Caused problems when he was allowed to do so.


Aaron Cresswell
One good clearance but alarmingly tired at an alarmingly early stage of the game.


Angelo Ogbonna
A decent performance in the main but his partnership with Reid turned all Laurel and Hardy for the second Equaliser.


Winston Reid
Not at his best.


Cheikhou Kouyate
Was doing ok up to that mad five minutes. Desparately unlucky to be “Johnny on the spot” as Clattenburg took the excuse to issue the red card he had been looking to give all day.


Mark Noble
The early and unjustified yellow affected his game as he pulled out of winnable challenges lest Clattenburg dismiss him.


Emmaneul Emenike
An early run was illegally curtailed but this was a largely anonymous performance. He was signed as a back-up striker and now Carroll’s fit perhaps we should revert to plan A and start with him on the bench?


Manuel Lanzini
Quiet but took the goal well.


Dimitri Payet
Pulled a lot of strings in the first half. Quieter in the second. I vaguely recall there may have been a free-kick in there somewhere.


Diafra Sakho
Ought to have scored with that first half free header. Some promising runs but was less of a goal threat than he would have liked.


Substitutes


Andy Carroll
(Replaced Emenike, 60) A decent run out. Held it up well and there was one glorious cross field pass to Cresswell to enjoy.


Enner Valencia
(Replaced Sakho, 69) Battled gamely without exerting much influence on proceedings.


Pedro Obiang
(Replaced Noble, 80) Ten minute cameo to save Noble from the insane ramblings of Clattenburg.


Darren Randolph
Did not play.


James Tomkins
Did not play.


Alex Song
Did not play.


Victor Moses
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Mark Clattenburg.

Attendance: 24,812.

Man of the Match: Manuel Lanzini.

West Ham United

Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo, Michail Antonio, Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna, Winston Reid, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Emmaneul Emenike, Manuel Lanzini, Dimitri Payet, Diafra Sakho.

Goals: Manuel Lanzini 18 Dimitri Payet 41                .

Booked: Mark Noble 27 Winston Reid 28 Nikica Jelavic 0      .

Sent off: None.

Crystal Palace

.

Substitutes: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: n/a.

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Gordon Thrower's Man of the Match: Manuel Lanzini


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