Saturday, 24th July 2004
A Bit Rusty ...
A quick hop up the East Coast Main Line (sorry anoraks, I neither know nor care what class of train it was other than it was a blue one) saw me arrive at a converted barge on the canal which rejoiced in the name of “Charters”. On boarding I noted that the vessel had a distinct list to starboard. I decided that this was a primitive form of alcohol consumption meter, the theory being that when you've had enough the deck feels dead level. On noting the extensive menu of real ales I decided to put the theory to the test. Unfortunately, like many of our players over the years, the beer list promised much but sadly failed to deliver. My first choice of ale, a 4.2% offering by the name of “Leg Before Whippet”, lasted only one sip before being substituted, that one sip tasting of vinegar. Fullers Summer Ale (3.6%) came off the bench to deputise. However, despite pleasant company in the beer garden from Peterborough Irons, Chim, Stevo, Kev and others, even the normally reliable youngster from Chiswick seemed a bit lifeless so we decided to go to the match.
Interviewed pre-match on Sky Sports News, Peterborough boss Barry Fry had tried to drum up interest in the match by promising an exciting match full of attacking football. At the time I thought this prediction to be wildly optimistic and so it proved. We took a near full squad, the two most notable absentees being Hutch & Lomas. The starting line up was: Bywater, Repka, Brevett – whose return was possibly the most welcome sight of the day (with the possible exception of the young lady sat opposite me on the journey home!), Melville, Dailly, Carrick – who was warmly greeted by the travelling support – McAnuff, Reo-Coker, Etherington, Zamora and Sheringham.
Folllowing a minute's silence in memory of the late Rocky Thomas who had been Peterborough's Ground Safety Manager, the game started. And not much happened. A recent Viz top tip suggested that teams who are fed up with being let down should simply complete each move one pass sooner. There was certainly an element of that during this match. Both sides enjoyed little spells of possession but the final ball tended to be over hit if played long, under hit if played short and, on those occasions when the ball was actually played to feet both sides were guilty of showing poor control. There were a few early scares though. Brevett was dispossessed on the left by a late and, frankly dangerous looking tackle. Repka did well to head clear despite being flattened by the advancing forward.
Things livened up a bit after about 20 minutes. Willock found himself one on one with Bywater. However, the keeper did well to stay on his feet to firstly parry the ball and then to prevent the corner., although he nearly undid the good work by throwing the ball straight to the opposition.
Shortly after we took the lead. Breaking out from the back Etherington combined well with Sheringham who was getting involved for the first time. The ball came through to Reo-Coker whose shot from distance was deflected wide, The resulting corner was taken by Carrick whose cross found Dailly unmarked to rise for the first goal.
The goal however, failed to bring Barry Fry's promised football extravaganza and for the next 20 minutes it was more of the same until Peterborough equalised a few minutes before the break. A long ball played from the back found Melville wanting and his missed header allowed Willock through to make amends for his earlier miss.
There was a brighter start to the second half. Etherington, who had displayed a seeming reluctance to take his man on during the first half, got down the line and put over a cross for Zamora whose header drifted just wide. Then came the first of the substitutions; Harewood, Ferdinand and Mullins replacing McAnuff, Melville & Brevett respectively. The substitutions prompted a reshuffle at the back with Repka moving across to join Dailly in the middle with Ferdinand going to right back. However, it was Harewood's introduction that enlivened proceedings no end. Despite playing in the right midfield position that causes much debate amongst fans, Marlon was up for it and the Posh defence never quite got to grips with all the twists turns and flicks that he produced. One such turn left two defenders for dead and the resulting foul must have been close to being a penalty.
Sheringham then had his first chance in a West Ham shirt. Evading a challenge on the edge of the box he drove into the side netting from close range albeit from a tight angle. The new signing had a further half chance when he found himself in a bit of space on the penalty shot but his control let him down enabling a defender to get in for a clearance.
Further changes came when Carrick was replaced by Nowland and Etherington by Cohen but a couple of minor blips by Bywater aside little of note occurred with the exception of an angled Reo Coker drive which followed some good work on the break by Zamora. Unfortunately Reo-Coker's effort went about a foot over possibly due to the embarrassment of his now having his own song sung to the tune of “Do The Conga”.
There was just time for Repka to depart to be replaced by Ward before the game petered out to it's inevitable conclusion and I was able to catch my train (another blue one) home.
In truth this wasn't much of a match. That's not a moan or a complaint, merely an observation. Pre season matches are rarely football feasts – despite Barry Fry's comments – and the main aim is to build up match fitness without losing anyone through injury so mission accomplished in that respect. If I did have one gripe about the day it would lie with the home club's wisdom in charging full league prices during pre-season. This may have been one contributory factor to the relatively sparse population in the home parts of the ground. Still every penny counts (don't we just know it!).
So there we have it. The computer still works so I'm all ready and looking forward to the new season. - Leicester away where hopefully they keep their beer better!
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(Replaced Brevett, 61) No comments.
(Replaced Melville, 61) No comments.
(Replaced McAnuff, 61) No comments.
(Replaced Etherington, 77) No comments.
(Replaced Carrick, 77) No comments.
Man of the Match: Marlon Harewood.
West Ham United
Goals: Christian Dailly 25
Booked: None booked. .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Tyler, Burton (Thomas 88), Woodhouse (Boucaud 61), Farrell, Platt (Clarke 76), Newton (Kanu 78), St.Ledger (Legg 61), Thomson (Fry 89), Willock (Constantine 75), Ireland, Kennedy (Jelleyman 61).
Substitutes: See above.
Subs not used: Rea, Pullen, Semple, Hutton, Deane.
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..