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Carling Cup
Wednesday, 27th October 2004

Chelsea 1
West Ham United 0

by East Stand Martin

Picture the scene. A chip shop in the Kings Road. Fat blue scummer with his heads in his hands wailing, “How did we lose to those c***s?”

That was my abiding memory of the last trip to Scumford Bridge over two years ago, when Paolo worked some magic. Happy days - although that season ended in disaster it was marked by a double over Chelsea, engineered on both occasions by the Italian maestro. Arriving at Fulham Broadway it seemed like an eternity ago and the new tube station added to the sense of unfamiliarity. The atmosphere was buzzing, and if you needed a simple encapsulation of why we need to be back in the Premiership, this was it.

An oily Russian and his cash

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since that meeting back in September 2002 and obscene amounts of cash has gone into it, courtesy of the rape of the previously state-run oil industry in Russia by Abramovic and his pals. Looking at the West Ham side that started the match, only Tom and Lomas had survived.

Chelsea rang the changes for the game, with Terry, Bridge, Johnson, Makele all left out and Cech, Lampard, Huth Duff and Gudjohnsen on the bench. For our part, there was no Sheringham, Davenport or Chadwick, although somewhat surprisingly both Reo-Coker and Matty started, joining the recalled Nowland in midfield.

Buoyed by the raucous travelling support, we started in positive style, with Marlon looking up for the game from the start. With just three minutes gone a strange back pass by Carvalho looked for one second like it was going in.

Nowland looked like he was finding difficulty in adjusting to the top tier with a pass that went badly astray on 5 minutes and almost immediately afterwards, Chelsea broke with a rapid move by Robben down the right that saw a cross over to the far post. Goalless £5 million signing Mateja Kezman failed again as he slammed the ball downwards into the turf to allow Jimmy Walker to make a good save.

Rufus stops Cole

Nowland made amends two minutes later with a powerful shot from distance after some good work by Z-man, but it sailed over the bar. The West Ham tackle of the night was by Rufus on 11 minutes as he managed to get a last ditch tackle on Joe Cole to deny him a clear goalscoring opportunity in the box. Undeterred, Cole found himself in another dangerous position two minutes later and managed to get a shot in which Walker again held well down low.

Nowland was at fault again on 14 minutes, as another misplaced pass let Cole gather the ball and thread through a fine ball to Kezman. Once again, the Dutchman blew it as he knocked the ball past Walker with such weight that he couldn’t retrieve it.

And where were you?

Nigel Reo-Coker was beginning to show that he can cut the mustard at the highest level with a high energy performance in the centre of the park. Parker looked second rate in comparison and this encouraged the West Ham fans to taunt the subdued Chelsea crowd with a stirring rendition of “Where were you when you were sh*t?” This seemed a bit double-edged to me: clearly there are a lot of glory-hunters down there, but did this equally mean that we are true fans because we were here when we are sh*t?

On 22 minutes, Tom was called upon to deal with Kezman after Nowland gave the ball away in a midfield bereft of space. There just isn’t the time at this level to dwell on the ball. Nowland did a lot better coming forward on 24 minutes with a fine run and pass to Marlon, who couldn’t beat the defender. Nowland then was found free on 26 minutes following a nasty foul on Reo-Coker from behind. He let loose with a 30 yard shot which flew over the bar.

Although it was difficult for West Ham to penetrate deep into Chelsea territory, we were doing well in midfield where we seemed to be first to the ball on most occasions. Zamora was grafting particularly well, building on his much improved performance against Gillingham. On 29 minutes, he found himself with some uncustomary time and space just outside the box, but couldn’t quite apply the necessary curl on his shot to find the bottom right hand corner of the goal.

West Ham’s passing and movement was very encouraging and an excellent series of short passes on 31 minutes involving Matty, Nowland and Reo-Coker led to Marlon picking the ball up down the right. He tried a shot on goal but this somehow ended up hitting the advancing Lomas and behind for a goal kick.

Who rejected who?

Joe Cole, who was booed by sections of the away fans went on a stumbling run which led to him running the ball out of play. This sparked a chorus of “West Ham reject”, although my recollection of what happened there was that he rejected West Ham in somewhat understandable circumstances.

Another ball won in midfield and run by Lomas looked threatening on 33 minutes, but the Northern Irishman – who put in a great fighting display throughout – couldn’t find the waiting Z-man in the box. Three minutes later, West Ham won a free kick down the right following a foul on Marlon and the Matty ball in which followed almost went in at the far post.

Walker was called upon again to make a fine save after Cole was gifted the ball from a misunderstanding in central defence. From the resulting corner, Kezman spurned another golden opportunity as he put a free header wide of the post.

Z-man shines again

Towards the end of the half, Z-man proved once again that his touch had returned. He was winning balls in the air and using his body well to hold and shield the ball. You know, he might just have turned the corner – I hope so with all my heart.

On 41, Matty went on the run of the half, cutting in from the left. Entering the Chelsea box, he foxed everybody – including himself – although the loose ball was only just grabbed in time by Cudicini. Two minutes later, Reo-Coker won another ball in midfield and shot forward menacingly, but his goal-bound shot was blocked.

It would have been hard on the Hammers if we had gone into the break behind, but with a minute to go Kezman wasted his third and best opportunity. This time Geremi was the provider following his run down the right. Standing unmarked on the edge of the six yard, he unbelievably nodded wide.

The final action of the half was in the Chelsea box after Reo-Coker made the ball his yet again and fed a pass out to Matty. His cross was too near to the keeper who gathered it and was then barged over by Marlon. A melee in the box followed with Gallas over-reacting but ref Andy D’Urso calmed it down well.

Undoubtedly this was one of West Ham’s best first half performances for some time. Although chances were few, we had good possession and appeared to be winning the midfield battle. Celtic Ryan - who joined me for this one – had no doubts that West Ham had been better overall, although Chelsea had the better chances on goal. With Drogba on the pitch, we may well have been 3-0 down.

Drug rehab sponsorship opportunity

During the half time interval, a glance in the Chelsea programme revealed that Mutu is the only player in the Chelsea team without a kit sponsor. Ryan suggested that the obvious choice would be “The Priory”.

We were expecting Chelsea to up the tempo in the second half and so it proved. Mourinho no doubt put a rocket up their ar*es, although the first chance fell to West Ham following a free kick on 46 minutes. Unfortunately, Lomas dragged a shot horribly wide.

Anton – who looked really quite comfortable in central defence – then made an uncharacteristic error on 47 minutes allowing Kezman to gather the ball inside the box. His shot was superbly parried by Walker and Rufus was on hand in front of an open goal to clear.

Joe Cole was again deploying his familiar twisting and turning to create space in front of goal on 49 minutes, but his shot went wide of the left hand post although it required a help around the corner by Walker.

Reo does Parker

The only weakness in West Ham’s game was the final ball, but the build up play and passing was consistently pretty good. Reo-Coker was still winning his personal battle with Parker, who looks like he might be on his way before too long.

Chelsea got the breakthrough on 57 minutes after another good run and perfectly weighted ball from Joe Cole. Kezman ran onto the pass and fired a shot across goal which fortunately – for him – hit the inside of the post and went in. Walker was unlucky as it looked like he had got his angles right.

Tom looked really at home back at the top level again and is really having a fine season to date. I think that he will be a key player in our quest for a return to the Premiership.

If he’s fat….

Changes for both West Ham and Chelsea took place on 64 minutes as Mark Noble came on for Nowland and Duff for Cole. Almost immediately afterwards, the noise level went up several notches as ‘Big Fat Frank’ came on for the disappointing Parker. On 71 minutes Lampard skewed a shot wide to the utter delight of the travelling support who responded with a lusty chorus of “You’re just a fat Paul Ince”.

These attacks against Lampard, although very good banter, hardly reflect the true situation. More like “Big Fit Frank”, considering he’s not missed a game for over a year. We may not like it, but the reality is that he is one of the finest players in Europe and although I don’t like what he has said about West Ham, I can’t blame him for leaving the club when he did. Ask yourself this: if your old man had been given his P45 unceremoniously after years of service to the club, would you have wanted to stay?

It’s a celebration

Marlon put over a good cross on 75 minutes, but this was headed behind for a corner by the Chelsea defence. The corner was cleared and this led to a Chelsea break involving Kezman. There was confusion in the box as the ball rebounded off the ref and came back to Kezman who was brought down by Tom in the box. Chaos then broke out as D’Urso awarded a penalty as we all knew who would step up to take it. All manner of objects – including a football – got lobbed onto the pitch and it took about three minutes before Lampard could take the spot kick.

Lampard stepped up and hit is straight down the middle at Walker leading to scenes of wild celebration the likes of which I have not seen since Paolo mugged Barthez at Old Trafford.

Gudjohnsen came on for Robben on 81 minutes and a minute later Hutch came on for Z-man. After Mullins made a great last ditch intervention to prevent a goal on 83 minutes, Sergei came on for the last 5 minutes or so, replacing Matty.

Lampard almost made up for his penalty miss on 86 minutes after Tom committed a foul on the right hand side of the box inches outside the area. A deflection from his wicked shot saw the ball strike the crossbar.

Anton nearly saves it

We very nearly won a period of extra time with one minute to go, after Anton rose superbly to meet a Rufus cross. The ball hit the cross bar and the keeper must have touched it as we won a corner which Lomas headed wide. Lomas had one final half chance in the four minutes of added time when a series of passes found him in a central position, but he dragged his shot wide.

The end of the game was marked with West ham fans singing “All the money and you’re f*cking sh*t” and then a bundle with a load of Chelsea stewards in the left hand corner of the stand. It was difficult to see what happened, but I did see one guy leap over about two rows of seats and take out a steward. It all looked totally chaotic and on the way out I saw Tony Cottee on Sky saying that it looked like a complete over-reaction by the stewards. Good old Tony, always sticking up for the club he loves, but I think we could have done without these scenes.

What can we take out of this? Quite frankly, we don’t need the distraction of a cup run when we have much more important business to deal with. This was a spirited performance and a benchmark for us. A number of our players showed that they can hack it at this level, although I reckon that Reo-Coker is now at the top of the list of a number of Premiership clubs. Maybe Terry will not sell this time, considering he’s just posted a profit for the first time in ages (admittedly because he’s sold all our best players). We need to build on this, take the positives out of it and forge ahead so we can all come back next year – this time in the league.

(Player ratings by Gordon Thrower)

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Player Ratings

Jimmy Walker
A fantastic match. Probably worth a 10 even without the penalty save. Interesting selection problem for the weekend.


Hayden Mullins
Much maligned in certain quarters, you couldn't fault the work he put in tonight, even if he sometimes does seem to have the slipperiest boots ever manufactured.


Rufus Brevett
A busy night but a solid one. Supplied the cross from which Ferdinand nearly equalised.


Tomas Repka
Generally solid but was unfortunately unwise enough to dive in with D'Urso needing only the flimsiest of excuses to award a penalty.


Anton Ferdinand
One “laid-back” aberration that let in Klezman aside, this was a good performance. Was desperately unlucky with his late header.


Steve Lomas
Another one who put the miles in over the course of the evening. With a little more composure he might have tested Cudicini a couple of times.


Nigel Reo-Coker
Started strangely, sort of playing almost alongside Harewood, though he reverted to a more conventional role as the game progressed. Another one whose effort could not be faulted.


Adam Nowland
Obviously benefited from his spell of regular first team action at Gillingham.


Matthew Etherington
Excellent going forward he did his fair share of the tracking back when required as well – as epitomised by one 40 yard run to get in a tackle.


Bobby Zamora
Ran his legs off for little reward. A couple of decent efforts, particularly in the first half.


Marlon Harewood
Chased down the ball right from the kick-off and continued to do so throughout the match. Scores highly for effort rather than for goal threat.


Substitutes


Mark Noble
(Replaced Nowland, 65) Picked up from where Nowland left off in the middle. Got into a good position but sliced horribly wide – but didn't hide afterwards.


Don Hutchison
(Replaced Zamora, 83) Some good touches and lay-offs – particularly during the sequence that led to Lomas's chance at the death.


Sergei Rebrov
(Replaced Etherington, 85) Not really given enough time to influence proceedings.


Stephen Bywater
Did not play.


Chris Cohen
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: A.D'Urso.

Attendance: 41774.

Man of the Match: Jimmy Walker.

West Ham United

Goals:                    

Booked: Tomas Repka 78          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Chelsea

Cudicini, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Gallas, Babayaro, Geremi, Parker, Tiago, Kezman, Robben, Cole.

Substitutes: Duff (Cole 64), Lampard (Parker 68), Gudjohnsen (Robben 82).

Subs not used: Cech, Huth.

Goals: Kezman (57).

Booked: None booked..

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
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