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Nationwide Division One
Saturday, 29th November 2003

West Ham United 4
Wigan Athletic 0

by Gordon Thrower

Sorry I’m late guys - I don’t win that often!

With these words Alan Pardew entered the post match press conference with his first win as a Hammer under his belt. After two fairly ordinary (oh alright then awful) matches against teams whose names begin with the letter W we finally broke the new manager’s duck with a performance that was, at times brilliant and at times sloppy.

The team was that which started against Wimbledon with Harewood lining up alongside Connolly and Deane in a 4-3-3. Although the team was the same the performance was infinitely better - though admittedly that didn’t require much.

Attacking the South Bank end (as I still think of it) first for a change we took the lead on four minutes. Deane, who appeared more mobile in the first few minutes than he had in either of the whole of the previous two matches, managed to find some space wide out on the right. His hard-driven cross was turned in by Horlock for the Northern Ireland international to score from about 6 yards out for his first goal for the club.

Harewood, obviously benefiting from having had a couple of days’ training with his new team-mates, was a particular thorn in the side of Wigan and gave their left side a frantic time, nearly doubling the lead with a shot at the near post that went narrowly wide.

On the quarter hour we then had an eventful few minutes. In going to retrieve the ball for a throw-in Repka and Wigan manager had “a bit of an altercation.” Jewell and Repka barged into eachother in full view of both the ref and 4th official. No action was taken so Wigan midfielder McCulloch decided to exact his own revenge on Repka, scything through the Czech with a shocking challenge that, in all honesty was deserving of a straight red. (Especially when compared to the challenge that earned Defoe a red against West Brom). Fortunately for McCulloch the ref was, at this point, in lenient mood and only produced a yellow, possibly as a result of Repka getting up fairly quickly. Next the visitors lost Horsfield as a result of an injury. Then we scored again.

The second goal was a result of some excellent work from Harewood. The ball was played wide out right to the new boy who pushed the ball one side of the covering midfielder whilst running round the other side. On nearing the by-line Harewood repeated the manoeuvre on the last defender before pulling the ball back across goal. Jarrett slid in in an attempt to cut out the cross but was only able to trap the ball under his thigh and carry it into the net under momentum. Although Alan Pardew, tongue firmly in cheek, later asked for the goal to be credited to Harewood it was never anything other than an own goal, albeit one earned by Harewood’s perseverance and skill.

We then had a silly spell. Repka picked up a yellow for a push then the ref produced a red for Jackson who was adjudged to have gone in two-footed on Mullins when challenging for a loose ball. Now my view of the incident wasn’t perfect but the ball was loose and Jackson had every right to go for it. However, if the challenge was indeed two-footed than a red card was the only correct decision. It should be noted that it did occur right in front of the ref.

At half time Connolly, who had been a bit quieter than normal, was replaced by Hutchison. AP later confirmed that the switch had been purely a tactical move, prompted partly by the sending off. Hutchison nearly increased the lead early in the second half when trying an ambitious volley from a narrow angle after connecting with Dailly’s misdirected header after a corner. Harewood too had a chance, seeing a shot saved by Filan.

Then, 5 minutes into the second half, the wheels fell off for Wigan. Carrick, who was beginning to revel in the extra space in midfield, played the ball past McCullogh for Repka to run on to. Having no chance of beating the Czech to the ball the Wigan midfielder pushed Repka over. Referee Stretton produced a second yellow to reduce Wigan to nine men for the remaining 40 minutes. My view of the incident was that whilst the second yellow was possibly harsh, it was an identical challenge to that which had earned Repka his own yellow. Bearing in mind McCulloch was very lucky to still be on the pitch after his initial yellow, Wigan really can have no complaints. Tellingly, manager Paul Jewell didn’t even look at McCulloch as he walked off the pitch.

The game was effectively over at this point, although with West Ham one can only say this sort of thing with hindsight. Shortly after the sending-off the ball was worked to Harewood on the edge of the box. A nice piece of footwork proved too clever for a Wigan defender whose challenge upended Harewood for a correctly awarded penalty. Harewood took the spot-kick himself and, with little in the way of run-up, buried a powerful shot past Filan who had guessed the right way.

At 3-0 Repka came off to be replaced by Ferdinand, making a highly amusing detour on his way to shake hands with the ref as he went off. Filan picked up a yellow after a discussion between ref and linesman, presumably for something he said. Then Garcia replaced Horlock. For a spell we had a tendency to over-elaborate, falling into the trap of trying to be too clever with our approach play. However Harewood still had time to score his second and our fourth, latching on to a lovely through ball from Mullins and finishing with a delightful chip over the advancing Filan. Late on ex-Hammer Bullard curled a shot narrowly wide, denying the 1,600 or so travelling fans a consolation goal, and denying the bloke behind me a decent payout from the bookies having got decent odds on a 4-1 final score.

It’s difficult to make a judgement on the overall performance in view of the sendings off. Strangely I thought that we looked better when it was eleven a-side. However, the performance was a marked improvement over the previous two matches. There was a lot more bite and appetite about the side and, irrespective of the red cards, the victory was well deserved and even the interminable wait for a westbound District line train (whilst no fewer than 6 went eastbound!) couldn’t ruin my mood.

A final word of thanks to Malcolm and Martyn on security in the press room who sorted out a minor problem with the KUMB pass quickly and efficiently. Credit due!

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Player Ratings

David James
Largely unemployed, although there was one heart in mouth moment when his clearance of a poor back pass nearly rebo


Tomas Repka
Good solid performance and he did well not to get wound up by McCullogh’s shocking tackle on him in the first half.


Wayne Quinn
If there was a weak link today it was probably Quinn who seemed to be AWOL during the few moves that Wigan were able to create.


Christian Dailly
Fairly comfortable when it was eleven a side. Had a quiet time after the sendings off.


Ian Pearce
Another comfortable performance - was able to mop up after Dailly and vice versa.


Michael Carrick
Revelled in the time and space given to him by Mullins and Horlock, and by the extra men in the second half.


Hayden Mullins
Some good tackles and interceptions and a smashing through ball for Harewood’s second.


Brian Deane
Much better - his touch was good today. So much so that on a couple of occasions I thought he was Harewood! Set up the first goal for Horlock.


Kevin Horlock
Much better - seems to have sorted things out with Mullins with whom he was often challenging for the same ball in previous matches.


Marlon Harewood
A marvellous home debut. Thoroughly deserved his goals and I particularly liked the “Mad Dog” handshake celebrations with the fans.


David Connolly
A couple of bright runs early on but otherwise a quiet half and was subbed at half time.


Substitutes


Don Hutchison
(Replaced Connolly, 45) Guilty of over-elaboration a couple of times but an otherwise solid game.


Anton Ferdinand
(Replaced Repka, 56) Came on for Repka with the opposition already down to 9 men. Took every opportunity to get forward to give much-needed width to the attack.


Richard Garcia
(Replaced Horlock, 72) Came on fairly late and got a couple of good runs in.


Stephen Bywater
Did not play.


Robbie Stockdale
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: F.Stretton.

Attendance: 34375.

Man of the Match: Marlon Harewood.

West Ham United

Goals: Kevin Horlock 4 Jason Jarrett (og) 18 Marlon Harewood 55 Marlon Harewood 75            

Booked: Tomas Repka 40          .

Sent Off:      .

Wigan Athletic

Filan, Jackson, Breckin, Liddell, Ellington, McCulloch, Horsfield, Jarrett, Eaden, Bullard, Baines.

Substitutes: Roberts (Horsfield 15), De Vos (Baines 43), Lawrence (Lidell 53).

Subs not used: Walsh, Teale.

Goals: .

Booked: McCulloch, Filan.

Sent Off: Jackson, McCulloch.

 
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