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Friday, 10th December 2004

West Ham United 1
Leeds United 1

by East Stand Martin

It’s a somewhat sobering thought that tonight’s match brought together two teams that finished fifth and seventh in the Premiership in the 2001/02 season. £150 million of player sales later, it all seems like a very long time ago.

It might seem a long time ago, but I do remember losing 3-4 at home to Leeds at Upton Park as if it were yesterday. I recall a calamitous first half with that fat Aussie w*nker Veruka latching onto a diabolical back pass. Apologies to Antipodean Irons, but my attitude towards the convict colony is dictated by too many years of the horse-stealing scum larging it in my face at test matches. This forthcoming summer may tell a different story though, and I live in hope that the marsupial-worriers will be seen off.

Three on the bounce?

At the halfway mark of the season, we had a chance tonight to win three games on the bounce and set ourselves up nicely for the Xmas programme. The prospect of being 4 points off the top was motivation enough, but to be honest, the chances of another win was not brilliant, as West Ham under Pardew have had three consecutive wins in the league on only one occasion. That was towards the end of last season when we saw off Coventry, Stoke and Watford in succession.

Anyway, we all turned up in numbers as we always do on nights like this hoping that we would get that third win and Leeds would suffer their third defeat.

Pardew elected to run with the same lineup that had seen off Sunderland away. Nothing wrong with that in principle, although you do wonder whether a more adventurous set up at home should have been considered. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Pardew’s priority always seems to be to approach games like these with a mentality of not losing, rather than going out to win. It was almost as if a target of four points had been set for the Sunderland and Leeds games Call me old fashioned, but I favour a more positive form of football. I couldn’t imagine Sir Trevor leaving Reo-Coker on the bench in preference to Lomas or Fletch

It’s true that we set up with two wide men, but the central midfield just looks too deep to me and it meant that we resorted too much to the long ball to try and find Marlon or Sergei. The Ukranian is knee high to a grasshopper and it is not Marlon’s game – he needs the ball at his feet.

That orange wrist band has magical powers

The first chance of the game came as a result of short run and powerful shot by Sergei on 3 minutes. He wrapped his foot well around the ball, but ex-Yiddo Neil Sullivan made a fine one-handed save. A corner followed and the ball ended up hitting the cross bar, although this was courtesy of the hand of Daren Powell, who looked like he had been bundled over.

Darren Powell was then involved again on 11 minutes, although this time at the other end. For some inexplicable reason he tried a backpass which was nowhere near Bywater, allowing the sprightly 37 year-old Deano to gather the ball. It looked a certain goal, but his curling shot had too much height on it and it clipped the top of the crossbar.

Powell was at fault again two minutes later, when he chested the ball to Healy rather clumsily in a central position. He hit a first time shot which had Bywater at full stretch, but he managed to keep it out.


Kilgallon in control

The next period saw a lot of long balls down the middle by West Ham, which were very much to the liking of ex-Hammers loanee Mathew Kilgallon. Everything that came that way was won by him with ease.

A good chance came Sergei’s way on 22 minutes when a free kick down the right evaded the Leeds defence. Advancing on goal, the ball ran away from the Ukrainian, although there was more than a suspicion of a foul on him and it looked very similar to an incident which was to result in a different decision later in the game.

The third error of Darren Powell’s first half performance came on 29 minutes, when he allowed the ball to bounce and let Healy pick up the ball. He saw Bywater off his line and tried to embarrass him with a curling lob which somehow missed the goal.

Kilgallon was still running the show at the back, leading ESM Jnr to comment that he had Marlon “in his pocket”.

One of the better exchanges of passes took place between Marlon and Chadders took place on 34 minutes, leaving the latter in some space in the box. However, he failed to jink the ball over Sullivan from the dead ball line.

The ref is a pikey

The closing minutes of the half saw a big shout for a Leeds penalty, as it looked as if Anton had failed to connect with the ball and had brought down a Leeds player. It was difficult to see whether this incident happened inside or outside the box, but ref Mike Pike – an ideal name for a Millwall fan if ever there was one – was uninterested.

Pikey then gave a corner much to the disgust of Matty and the subsequent delivery required Bywater to make a good save down low from the resulting first time shot.

Depression in the East Stand concourse at half time. Quite frankly, we were lucky not to be two goals down to a Leeds team that was happily coping with the long ball down the middle and closing us down at every opportunity. It had to change at half time.

Early breakthrough

The change was made at half time, but not a change motivated by a desire to be adventurous as Sergei was swapped for Teddy. However the change seemed to have paid off as Chadders got the breakthrough goal on 50 minutes. Fletch got the ball out to Matty who put over a perfect ball which was met rather strangely by Marlon. Instead of heading on goal, he headed sideways onto defender and this dropped to the feet of Chadders who couldn’t miss inside the six yard box.

Deano had a golden opportunity on 55 minutes after Healy went on a run down the left and put over a great cross. Fortunately for us, the veteran striker failed to get his boot on it and slot home.

A sublime drag back by Repka on the touchline on 57 minutes allowed him to put over a good cross, but Marlon’s free header was poor and the ball went harmlessly wide.

Two minutes later, Matty and Marlon combined well and this led to a good ball in from the left, but a defender got in front of Lomas before he could get his foot on it for an almost certain goal.

Chadders took a knock and this led to him being replaced by Reo Coker on 66 minutes.

Teddy is always capable of quality and a lovely pass on 71 minutes set up Lomas who then went bursting through into the box. Unfortunately Kilgallon was on hand again with a last ditch tackle to deny the Northern Irishman.

Control freaks

Marlon was off target again with a header on 78 minutes following another dangerous cross from Matty, and this then led to a passage of play were West Ham attempted to frustrate Leeds with prolonged possession. Every West Ham pass was being cheered and we looked in control

Deano ran out of steam and was replaced by Joachim with ten minutes left on the clock. It should be said that Anton coped with the old pro exceptionally well and that was one of the best games I have seen him play. I would stick with him in central defence.

Just after the change, Reo Coker won a great tackle in midfield and went on one of his trademark runs. He found Tom, but his cross was blocked. Two minutes later the roles were reversed when Tom played a great ball over the top to Reo Coker. Unfortunately his final ball was easily cut out.

With five minutes of ordinary time left, Marlon won a free kick and this led to a ball being delivered into the box with real pace. Teddy got a fine glancing header on it, but Sullivan was able to save this fairly comfortably.

Misplaced optimism

Leeds made a couple of late changes as they tried to find an equaliser. I was actually feeling quite comfortable and Leeds had been pretty poor in the second half, but ESM Jnr was not so sure. Pikey got it wrong twice in a row as he failed to spot a blatant handball by Darren Powell in the 44th minute and then ESM Jnr’s foreboding was proved to be justified as a penalty was given for a clear dive by Healy under a challenge by Lomas.

Bywater was never going to save the spot kick, with Healy celebrating rather unwisely in front of the West Ham fans who showered him with plastic bottles and programmes.

Yet another game finished where West Ham had failed to capitalise on a goal advantage. Leeds certainly had the better of the first half, but they had hardly threatened in the second. Points going west like this will undoubtedly prove to be costly later on in the season, and it looks very much to me that the best we can hope for is another trip to Cardiff.

As I’m off to South Africa just before Xmas, this was my last game in 2004, a year of further frustration for West Ham fans. Let’s all hope that 2005 brings something better.

(Player ratings by Gordon Thrower)

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Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater
Handling was sound tonight but really, really needs to work on that kicking.


Anton Ferdinand
A confident match, though the way he left his leg out for the penalty incident was worrying. Hopefully that's another lesson learned.


Chris Powell
Fairly solid performance though his normal presence going forward was hindered by Etheringon's continued tendency to drift inside.


Tomas Repka
I thought he had a fine match – and look out for him on Soccer AM next week – after all Sky can hardly claim they missed it can they.


Darren Powell
A busy evening. Whilst he dealt fairly comfortably with Deane, he gave the ball away too much for my liking and the backpass that nearly let Deane in the first half was suicidal.


Steve Lomas
Became the victim of another terrible penalty decision following the shocker the other year at Arsenal. Thankfully this time Mike Dean wasn't present or there'd have been a red card as well. Solid but should really have done better with the burst into the box from Harewood's lay-off.


Luke Chadwick
Got through a lot of hard work but, as is his habit, he began to fade before injury curtailed his evening.


Carl Fletcher
A tidy performance and sent over an excellent free-kick from which Sheringham was unlucky not to score in the second half. Guilty on occasion of giving the ball away – but he was not alone in that respect.


Matthew Etherington
Given the MOTM bubbly by Sky, a decision I found somewhat strange. In a game that lacked width he was often to be found playing inside, which was a shame because when he did move out to the wing he had some effective moments, mixing wide play with the occasional cut inside.


Marlon Harewood
Had a much better second half once he had a partner to play with, but failed to do his usual defence-frightening job.


Sergei Rebrov
Got one excellent effort away to pull a fine save out of Sullivan, but the first half midfield battle saw him getting less and less service. As he came deeper this left Harewood on his own and he was replaced at half time.


Substitutes


Teddy Sheringham
(Replaced Rebrov, 45) Provided much needed balance up front and was unfortunate to find Sullivan in good form.


Nigel Reo-Coker
(Replaced Chadwick, 67) Seemed to have a problem judging the pace of the game at first but still managed to put together a couple of those runs out of defence.


Robert Burch
Did not play.


Hayden Mullins
Did not play.


Bobby Zamora
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: M.Pike.

Attendance: 30684.

Man of the Match: Tomas Repka.

West Ham United

Goals: Luke Chadwick 50                  

Booked: Darren Powell 90          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Leeds United

Sullivan, Butler, Kelly, Kilgallon, Pugh, Richardson, Gregan, Oster, Wright, Deane, Healy.

Substitutes: Joachim (Deane 80), McMaster (Oster 87), Walton (Wright 90).

Subs not used: Carson, Spring.

Goals: Healy (90).

Booked: Kelly (76).

Sent Off: None sent off.

 
Match Report