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Coca Cola Championship
Tuesday, 5th April 2005

Burnley 0
West Ham United 1

by East Stand Martin

Being a multi-millionaire doesn’t necessarily mean that you can blag your way past PC Plod down a closed street.

I saw a rather bemused Rio Ferdinand get turned back just outside Turf Moor. I bet that like me he was rather glad to find his car unscathed on his return given the dodgy nature of the local streets, although my 110,000 mile Audi didn’t exactly measure up to his Bentley Continental.

The right combination

No doubt Rio had made his way over to see Anton perform, and quite frankly this is a good time to have a look at the young defender who to my mind is having a really terrific spell of form. In fact, we have looked immeasurably better since Elliot Ward and Anton have been given their chance in central defence and maybe we wouldn’t had suffered that disaster at Reading if the manager had tried that duo a little earlier.

This was a big night of Championship football and we needed to get a win. After Saturday’s great result, Pardew stuck with the same line-up on the basis that if it aint broke don’t change it.

Anton showed immediately why he is so important to the team with a perfectly timed tackle of Akinbiye as he found space in the box on 4 minutes. We then began to take charge with Teddy pulling the strings from the centre of the park. There were some superb long passes including one over his head.

Pace takes it every time

On 8 minutes, Newton, Noble and Marlon exchanged some quick incisive passes to allow Marlon some space to shoot. His powerful shot deflected off a defender and spun viciously towards the top left hand corner. Burnley’ keeper, Coyne – who had made a monumental cock-up for his country in the international against Austria - grasped the ball almost under the cross bar.

Ward mistimed a jump on 15 minutes, but recovered well to shield the ball out with a Burnley player snapping at his heels. What is really effective about both Ward and Anton is that they both have pace, something which has been lacking in central defence.

A minute later, Marlon chested down a long ball forward from Ward into the path of Teddy who let loose with a first time volley. This was dipping but it still cleared the bar by about a foot. This exchange demonstrated something which was also obvious at Wigan – Marlon and Teddy are really working well together at the moment.

On 21 minutes, Marlon showed real desire to nick a ball on the edge of the area and run in on goal. He went slightly wide but fired a good shot across the goal. It was not clear whether the keeper got a touch to this or whether there had been a deflection, but a corner was awarded.

Walker looking solid

Much of the Burnley play was coming down the West Ham right, although Branch was failing with his final ball after getting into some promising positions. It was Branch that got the ball on target for the first time on 25 minutes when he made a weak header from the edge of the box. This was easily gathered by Walker, who is looking very confident at the moment.

Teddy showed some sublime skill again on 29 minutes with a lovely reverse pass to find Reo-Coker. He bustled forward in that trademark style, but then sliced his shot horribly. He managed a similar run 7 minutes later, but got tackled near the byline inside the box and the move broke down.

Ward stepped in at the last moment to make a tremendous tackle inside the box to deny a Burnley player on 38 minutes just when it looked like he had found some real space. The close down was rapid, and emphasised again the importance of pace in the heart of defence.

Inevitable howler

Mullins was having a good time in central midfield, but he always seems to make one howler in a game. He got into a good position on the edge of the Burnley box on 40 minutes but took his eye of the ball and made a comedy unintentional dummy of a pass to his feet.

Elliot Ward reminded us that he is not the finished article one minute before the break when he failed to deal with a long ball. It was similar to the error which nearly let Roberts in three days earlier, but Akinbiye tried to curl the ball in past Walker, which didn’t work.

The first half was not exactly a festival of football, but the signs were encouraging and there was every hope that we could win the game as Burnley did not look exactly threatening.

No kick start

Whatever was said by Pardew at half time didn’t appear to have the desired effect as we looked poorer in the opening exchanges. It looked like we had forgotten how to pass again and there was a return to the long hoof forward. There was a sniff of a breakthrough on 50 minutes after a free kick was awarded in position A1 just on the edge of the D after Reo-Coker was fouled. Marlon was none too happy about this as Nigel had actually managed to find him free in the box just before the foul. It’s been a consistent theme this year though; Championship refs just seem to lack the ability to play advantage.

Generally, play was dour and scrappy. Reo-Coker got booked on 63 minutes after a slack pass from Ward forced him to foul. A minute later Marlon found himself free but shot horribly wide. The lack of inspiration continued and Noble was particularly absent, meaning that there was no creativity in midfield.

West Ham’s first real chance from open play didn’t in fact come until the 72nd minute when Reo-Coker found Teddy in space on the edge of the box. Unbelievably – and it was at this point that I thought we would never score – he couldn’t find the target with his shot.

Time for some width

Just after Teddy headed well wide from a corner on 74 minutes, Pardew decided to change it. To me, although it was the right change (Fletch for Mullins and Matty for Noble) it really came about ten minutes late. We were desperate for some width, and Matty was the obvious choice to give us that.

As time was running out, a goal came out of nowhere. It was all down to Marlon who managed to latch on to a dodgy backpass from Oster. He rounded the keeper but got forced a little wide. Instead of taking on the shot – which showed admirable unselfishness – he looked up and passed to the waiting Teddy on the six yard box. Like the goal he scored against Wigan, the old pro was never going to miss that one. It really is encouraging to see that combination of Teddy the old master and Marlon the young pretender. The two of them will be crucial in the run-in.

Marlon went off on 84 minutes as he had taken a slight knock and was replaced by Z-man.

No thrills but 3 points

Burnley looked a beaten team and were making basic errors all over the pitch, so we were able to run the clock down quite easily. The only other move of note was on 88 minutes when Fletch made a very good header from a corner which Coyne had to tip over.

Not the most thrilling match, but the three points turned out to be absolutely essential given the results elsewhere which saw the main contenders largely winning. It does look to me that we are beginning to tick at the right moment, but another win against struggling Coventry is a must on Saturday, when ESM Jnr gets to step onto the hallowed turf as part of Jobserve’s ‘kick-off crew’. This means that I will have to become ‘Dr Marten’s Martin’ for the day as that is where the proud parents have to sit.

(player ratings by Chimchimcheroo)

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Player Ratings

Jimmy Walker
aka Jimmy Floyd Walker - F*ck all to do. 35,000 Points.


Tomas Repka
May or may not be able to speak English. One Million Dollars.


Chris Powell
aka Chris One Pass Powell - Used to be at Charlton. Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps please.


Elliott Ward
aka Honeymonster - Makes my hair look good. One man went to War, Went to war with Millwall.


Anton Ferdinand
aka Lips - Looking less like Ja Ja Binks now. One Hail Mary.


Nigel Reo-Coker
aka Nigel Reo 'Drive By' Coker - Doesn't stay in shape enough, always walking with a pronounced limp. Five, four, three, two, one.


Hayden Mullins
aka Hayden 'I Can't Dance Either' Mullins - he called Home Owner Loans and they consolidated his debt in to one easy monthly payment. Two Little Boys.


Mark Noble
aka Mark 'Can I See Some ID Please Son?' Noble - Stood on top of Tedward's shoulders in the Northbank don't you know? Three Times A Lady.


Shaun Newton
aka Shaun 'Ten Grand' Newton - Evil Criminal Pixie Mastermind. Eight out of ten owners said their cat preferred it.


Teddy Sheringham
aka Teddy 'An Outside Bet For HOTY' Sheringham - Hopes to take up a career in youth counselling when his playing days are over. Twenty One seconds to go ...


Marlon Harewood
aka Marlon 'Man With Two Brains' Harewood - Bad Ass Download Baron. Three Steps To Heaven.


Substitutes


Carl Fletcher
(Replaced Mullins, 76) No comment.


Matthew Etherington
(Replaced Noble, 76) No comment.


Bobby Zamora
(Replaced Harewood, 85) No comment.


Stephen Bywater
Did not play.


Gavin Williams
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: K.Friend.

Attendance: 12209.

Man of the Match: Marlon Harewood.

West Ham United

Goals: Teddy Sheringham 84                  

Booked: Hayden Mullins 33 Nigel Reo-Coker 63        .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Burnley

Coyne, Sinclair, McGreal, Cahill, Camara, Oster, Hyde, O'Connor, Branch, Bowditch, Akinbiyi.

Substitutes: Valois (Oster 83), Duff (Branch 75), Grant (Sinclair 87).

Subs not used: Roche, Jensen.

Goals: .

Booked: Camara (28).

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Match Report


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