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Nationwide Division One
Wednesday, 17th March 2004

West Ham United 4
Crewe 2

by East Stand Martin

We were all racking our brains at half time. When was last time we saw West Ham go in 4-0 up at half time? With twenty minutes to go there was a different question. When was last time you saw West Ham surrender a commanding lead? We all knew the answer to that one and everybody looked nervous near me.

Well, it wasn't quite as bad as all that and maybe you will understand a hint of bitterness, when I tell you that at half time I was £130 up on a goal superiority spread bet, which disappeared into the ether with the two second half Crewe goals. C’est la vie.

First half display of the season

I don't think I have seen a better first half display by West Ham this season. The shape of the team looked very natural. Harewood and Zamora were upfront with Reo-Coker playing in an advanced central midfield role. McAnuff -- of which more later -- was in his orthodox right wing role. I have to say, although I have a lot of time for Connors, you wonder whether the shape of the team looks better without him. I’d like to hear some views on that one.

Carrick as I have said on a number of occasions of late is in top form. He looks every inch the Premiership player again, with a commanding presence and a steady supply of fantastic crossfield passes. I don't want to be unnecessarily gloomy, but we may well be watching the final few games of Michael Carrick in a claret and blue shirt. All depends of course, on whether we can pull it off in the playoffs, and we all know that the game coming up on Sunday is probably the biggest of the season.

It was one of those Carrick balls that arrived at the feet of Zamora as early as the fifth minute, which created West Ham's earliest chance. The corner which resulted from the save from Zamora led to Harewood putting a great header past the keeper.

McAnuff looked very lively down the right wing from the outset. On 14 minutes following a rapid burst of pace he got the ball over to Marlon who fluffed it badly. The ball came out to Reo-Coker, who made a great pass to Zamora, who in turn found himself one-on-one with the Crewe keeper, Clayton Ince. Unfortunately, he made a good block.

Tom goes spare

The performance of the officials in this match was not a lot different from some of the poor performances I have seen in the first division this season. Tom, no doubt, casting his mind back to the days when he played under referees in the Champions League lost his rag on 19 minutes when an offside decision was not given. The red mist descended, and he was lucky not to receive a booking.

Hardly had the veins in Tom's neck gone down when the ball was picked up on the edge of the box by Marlon. He made a great turn and a powerful shot, which the keeper could have probably saved on a better day. It looked like he was completely taken by surprise by the way the ball was fired in so quickly. Two nil and it seemed only a matter of time before Marlon would get his hat trick.

Nothing happening for the Z-man

Zamora is in need of a goal, and nearly got it on 24 minutes following an excellent linkup with Michael Carrick. The Z-man used his strength to shield the ball, but just shot wide of the post. Three minutes later Jobi made another one of his runs and got a good cross in which Marlon headed straight at the keeper.

Zamora had another two good chances on the half-hour. First he worked hard to win the ball back and was storming down on goal, but shot wide under pressure from a Crewe defender. Then Marlon made a great dummy, which let Zamora take the ball on the edge of the box. Unfortunately, his shot was partially blocked by a defender, and it was an easy take for the keeper.

The third West Ham goal came on 34 minutes with another nice layoff from Harewood who had got on the end of a Harley cross. This time the ball was picked up by Reo-Coker who hit an absolute peach into the top left-hand corner.

Can I just add a plea at this point to the Bobby Moore Lower. Whoever came up with that chant for Reo Coker needs to be taken to one side and beaten to a pulp. What is that? “Dooo Dooo Dooo, Nigel Reo Coker”. It’s cack. Cut it out.

Zamora had another shot on goal on 35 minutes but it was at this point that I began to notice that he looked pretty tired. His hands were on his hips and it looks like he’s either still struggling to gain full fitness or he is carrying an injury.

But the goal of the night was scored by Jobi with three minutes left in the half. He made a mazy run, beat about four defenders and although was forced out wide, managed to slot home within inch perfect shot.

No sex please, we’re Eaststanders

At this point I can honestly say that the Hammerettes cost me about 175 quid. No, I didn't manage to convince them to join me in a group sex scene in the now defunct Sir Geoff Hurst Suite, but their dance music meant that I couldn't make myself understood on the phone to my bookies to close down my spread bet and take the money. I wasn't too bothered, though, because I was certain that we would add even more goals in the second half.

It all looked a matter of time when we came out for the second half. On 49 minutes, Jobi shot down the right yet again, and managed to put a ball on target, which was tipped over. Then five minutes later, Reo-Coker made another penetrating run through the middle and passed to Zamora, who blasted just wide.

Crewe were passing the ball around reasonably nicely, but it was the ref that gifted them a goal on the hour. There was a clear foul on Reo-Coker which was ignored, allowing the ball to be passed forward to Steve Jones, who looked suspiciously offside. One-on-one with Bywater, he slotted home, leaving Tom to go spare with the linesman and get his customary yellow card.

Miss of the season

A goal looked certain on 66 minutes when yet again Reo-Coker made a surging run through the middle. He got the shot on goal, but he hit the keeper's body. Then a minute later, Marlon turned on the pace to put the ball past the keeper, but Zamora just didn't seem to have it in him to get to the ball and put in the back of the net. From where I was sitting it looked like the Upton Park miss of the season from 5 yards.

Then on 71 minutes Jones struck again for Crewe with a very good run down the right wing. He took the ball past Bywater and looked like he might have gone too far wide, but managed to hit the far corner with the shot.

No self-destruction this time

Fortunately, although there was almost twenty minutes left we did not see a repeat of the West Brom debacle. The game got played out and Pardew made three substitutes, bringing on Cohen for the excellent to Reo-Coker, Deano for the disappointing Zamora, and finally, Carole made his debut in place of McAnuff.

Zamora looked incredulous that he could be taken off. He stood in the centre circle, reluctant to move. Either he was showing his disappointment about his performance or he didn't accept that he had played poorly. He has just got to get quicker and fitter.

With 10 minutes to go my the neighbour Andy made the dodgy comment of the night as the Crewe goalkeeper had to be carried off after slicing a ball out to touch. ”We’re always happy to see an Ince carried off on a stretcher down here”, he quipped.

The reserve keeper came on and made two saves, which denied Deano and Cohen. The latter hit a terrific volley from the left hand edge of the box that almost would have rivalled Paulo’s famous goal against Wimbledon.

This result put us back third again, but let's have no doubts that it's going to be tough to even make the playoffs. It's very tight up there and we have a massive game on Sunday. I will be down Upton Park watching the beam back hopefully getting showered with lager in the concourse as our goals go in.

(Player comments by Gordon Thrower)

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Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater
Had little to do. Not at fault for either of the goals and dealt well with a difficult cross that might have crept in at the far post late on.


Jon Harley
Did exactly what Repka didn't going forward and played a vital role in Reo-Coker's goal.


Andy Melville
For the most part coped well with what little threat Crewe showed.


Christian Dailly
Didn't mess about after the slow-motion horror movie that was Sunderland's second goal at the weekend.


Tomas Repka
In a match where he had such a quiet time defensively I'd like to have seen a little more from him getting forward to support the midfield.


Nigel Reo-Coker
Strong performance linking well with both attack and defence. Fine finish for the goal.


Michael Carrick
The midfield partnership with Reo-Coker is developing nicely. Always seems to have time on the ball and pinged some lovely passes to all parts of the pitch.


Marlon Harewood
Took his goals well and was unlucky to miss out on the match ball for the trophy cabinet. The cause of no end of problems for the Crewe defence.


Jobi McAnuff
Grew in confidence as the game progressed and realised that he doesn't have to simply run down blind alleys. The goal will do him good.


Bobby Zamora
Not one of Bobby's better nights. Although he played a major role in the build-up to Reo-Coker's goal, he seemed a yard off the pace at times and was guilty of some profligate finishing.


Kevin Horlock
In the midst of some spectacular first-half performances Horlock was a bit of an unsung hero. It was often his hard work that allowed the others to play.


Substitutes


Chris Cohen
(Replaced Reo-Coker, 76) Not on for long but had time and the confidence to try a spectacular volley.


Brian Deane
(Replaced Zamora, 79) Time only to produce one save from the Crewe sub 'keeper.


Seb Carole
(Replaced McAnuff, 81) Little time to influence matters and seemed to be concentrating on keeping things simple – which he did well.


Pavel Srnicek
Did not play.


Adam Nowland
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: D.Crick.

Attendance: 31158.

Man of the Match: To be confirmed.

West Ham United

Goals: Marlon Harewood 6 Marlon Harewood 20 Nigel Reo-Coker 35 Jobi McAnuff 41            

Booked: Tomas Repka 62          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Crewe

Ince, Vaughan, Walker, Foster, Jones, Cochrane, Sorvel, Hignett, Lunt, Ashton, Jones.

Substitutes: McCready (Jones 70), Tonkin (Hignett 70), Tomlinson (Ince 86).

Subs not used: Robinson, Edwards.

Goals: Jones (61, 71).

Booked: None booked..

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Match Report