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Nationwide Division One
Saturday, 1st May 2004

West Ham United 4
Watford 0

by East Stand Martin

As a kid I was never a fan of the circus, in fact I never quite understood why people found clowns funny. Today though, just about everybody was laughing their socks off as two West Ham fans turned up in full clown garb to take their place in the front row of the Bobby Moore Upper.

My neighbour said “That must be the new Directors’ Box”, but the real reason why they had turned up in slap head wigs, red noses and over-sized trousers became apparent after half time when they unfurled a banner which said “Brown, stop treating us like a bunch of clowns”.

That has got to feature as one of the best protests at Upton Park I have ever seen. I wonder if Mr Brown had a laugh about it. I doubt it, as recent behaviour suggests that he has had a sense of humour by-pass.

The crowd was the 12th man

It was a full-house to see this crucial game and the atmosphere was really electric from the outset. Hope had been restored in our hearts with the recent run of form and the crowd was up for it.

The positive vibes seemed to immediately transfer to the team, which was unchanged from the trip to Stoke, with the exception of a rare start for Hutch who was in for the suspended Connors. It was Hutch that really looked energised from the outset and seemed to be everywhere – winning balls in the air and making a series of excellent tackles in 50/50 situations.

The first real chance for the Irons came on 12 minutes when Zamora was brought down clumsily as he was bearing down on goal in a central position. The free kick that followed from Harewood was very poor as it was fired into the base of the wall.

Don’s daisy cutter

Just three minutes later, an almost carbon copy foul took place, this time on Lomas as he was steaming in. This time, Hutch was given the opportunity to take the free kick and he fired in a real daisy-cutter just to the left of the wall and beating the Watford keeper hands down. Hutch looked ecstatic and fully deserved the goal for the superb tempo of his game.

Inexplicably, Marlon was allowed to take another free kick on 20 minutes after he was brought down on the left hand side of the box. The result was not much batter than the previous one he had taken – it was ballooned well over the bar.

Watford then had a couple of decent moves on 20 and 21 minutes. The first saw Dailly outpaced down the left hand side, but Bywater calmly tipped the shot over the crossbar. A similar palm over followed after a free kick was fired in.

Marlon gets stuck in

Marlon’s shooting may have been a bit under par, but he could not be criticised for his closing down of the opposition in their own half and around the half way line. He won a number of balls or stopped an opponent in his tracks.

On 27 minutes, Zamora picked up a good pass down the right and made a run down the wing, but ended up running into a blind alley and putting the ball beyond the dead ball line. A minute later, there was an excellent exchange of passes between Matty and Marlon, sending Matty off on a characteristic run. Although his cross was blocked, Dailly got a good header on the resulting corner which was just touched over by the keeper. Marlon was then guilty of wasting a free header from Carrick’s corner.

Carrick looked like he was enjoying himself in central midfield and was spraying some fine passes around. Lomas was playing his part too and fed a great ball through to Marlon on 38 minutes. Once again, though, his shot was off target.

Steve makes me nervous

Although Bywater had been called upon to make a couple of saves earlier on, his main involvement in the game was to clear back passes. This part of his game has not been his strongest and on 40 minutes he made a hesitant approach and cannoned the ball off the advancing Watford striker.

Two minutes later Zamora looked like he had run into a dead end, but managed to get a shot in from a tight angle which was blocked over the bar. Matty whipped in a great corner and there was Dailly unmarked to put in powerful header. It looked like Hutch might have got the last touch on it, but there was no doubt it was goal-bound the minute it left Dailly’s head.

2-0 and we were cruising and even Frodo came out at half time to express his undying love for the Hammers.

More of the same

We began the second half pretty much as we had finished the first. Marlon had a header well saved from a corner and then on 55 minutes Lomas poached a ball in midfield allowing him to make a penetrating run on goal. One on one with the keeper, Steve decided to try and place it with the side of his foot, but the keeper saw it coming and saved comfortably.

Zamora then made a couple of good moves. The first on 58 minutes, saw the Z-man take a ball down sweetly and then slot a ball back to the waiting Hutch. Don got a good shot in on goal, but this was saved well down low by the keeper. The second move, three minutes later saw him bundled over in the box and the ref – who had a good game throughout – pointed at the penalty spot.

With no Connors to dispute who should take it, Marlon stepped up and the keeper made a save diving to his left. However, the linesman was not happy – presumably the keeper had come off his line rather than along it – and the ref motioned for the spot kick to be taken again. The second time of asking, Marlon did not fail and hit the ball the other way.

Game over

The third goal closed the game down. Cohen came on for Matty on 63 minutes. Matty looks like he’s still short of fitness and Pardew was clearly thinking of the playoff games to come.

Carrick made a fantastic run on 66 minutes, carrying the ball all the way from the halfway line. He tried to lob the keeper, but he made a fine save. A minute later, Cohen then nearly added to the goals with a shot that just cleared the cross bar.

West Ham were well in control now and Zamora showed good pace and strength on 66 minutes after latching onto a pass from Marlon. Again, the keeper made an excellent save.

Z-man had played better in the second half, but Pardew decided to swap him for Jobi on 75 minutes. Apart from a diabolical pass from Anton that was massively overhit towards the corner flag, nothing much happened until the final four minutes. Marlon spurned another chance from a good position when he greedily shot and then at our end Dailly appeared from nowhere to clear off the line when a goal looked certain. The denouement was a minute into injury time when Jobi made a terrific run and put in a powerful shot which the keeper could not hold. Marlon jumped in to put away the fourth goal.

We’ve had a fine run of form and you have to say that the turning point came after that disastrous Easter weekend. Three wins on the bounce and no goals conceded is testament to a real turnaround in our fortunes. I remember last year when we were playing well at the end but results were not going for us elsewhere. This year, the teams we have had to worry about have lost the plot at the crucial time. Wigan’s failure in Nottingham today leaves us in a position where only a major disaster up there next week will mean that we don’t make the playoffs. See you at the JJB for an East London knees up.

(Following player ratings by Oxford Fred)

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Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater
A couple of good saves. I like the kid, but his kicking is pants. Ludo, show him how to do it.


Anton Ferdinand
A much more confident display. Seems to be getting himself in better positions. Didn’t look at all ruffled by Devlin.


Hayden Mullins
Has this ability to go unnoticed. But I like it that way. Pretty faultless.


Christian Dailly
Looks better without mad Tom around. Great goal and a clearance off the line as well. I wish people would get off his case.


Andy Melville
OK, he creaks a bit, but we need old pros around at a time like this. Solid job, just like last week.


Michael Carrick
Looked classy and left the tough stuff to Lomas and Hutch. Passing and link play very nice indeed. I’m knocking a mark off for that mullet haircut. What is he playing at?


Steve Lomas
Heart on sleeve as usual. Couple of wayward passes.


Matthew Etherington
Quiet game, although not a lot of service down the left. Good corner taking. Still lacking fitness?


Bobby Zamora
Went on a road to nowhere a few times in the first half. Much better in the second half and showed a real turn of pace. Earnt the penalty.


Marlon Harewood
Running around like Connors and tackling like a trooper. Two goals but quite a few wasted chances that probably should have been converted. On another day the poor shooting could have been costly.


Don Hutchison
Brilliant throughout. Tasty goal and led by example. Clearly really wanted it today and I reckon that he had a good shout for the second goal. Should have taken the penalty. MAN OF THE MATCH.


Substitutes


Chris Cohen
(Replaced Etherington, 64) Sub for Matty. Very enthusiastic but not much product. One shot that went over.


Jobi McAnuff
(Replaced Zamora, 75) Sub for Z-man. Not much of the ball, but I loved the run that led to the fourth goal.


Pavel Srnicek
Did not play.


Wayne Quinn
Did not play.


Nigel Reo-Coker
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: M.Jones.

Attendance: 34685.

Man of the Match: Don Hutchison.

West Ham United

Goals: Don Hutchison 17 Christian Dailly 44 Marlon Harewood 63 Marlon Harewood 90            

Booked: None booked.           .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Watford

Chamberlain, Mayo, Cox, Baird, Cook, Devlin, Hyde, Blizzard, Mahon, Dyer, Bouazza.

Substitutes: Helguson (Bouazza 53), Vernazza (Cook 84), Fitzgerald (Hyde 89).

Subs not used: Pidgeley, Fitzgerald.

Goals: .

Booked: Mayo (13).

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Match Report