Saturday, 31st July 2004
Shoot Out In The Sun
However the 4-4 draw against Anderlecht was (in my opinion) hugely entertaining, despite the rather superfluous and ultimately farcial penalty shoot out that decided the destination of the much coveted Out Performance Cup. (Community Shield? You're having a laugh!)
A 10,000 strong crowd, including 792 vociferous Anderlecht fans watched a match that was incident packed. West Ham lined up with a strong first team, though Matty Etherington's ingrowing toenail and a knock for Zamora meant a few hours soaking up the rays for those two.
Melville partnered Dailly in the middle with Repka & Rufus handling the full back roles. Matty's absence meant a start on left midfield for Chris Cohen with Carrick & Reo-Coker handling the middle and new-boy Rebrov taking over thee right hand side. Marlon & Teddy formed the strike force.
Well the incidents came thick & fast and the Belgians took the lead on 8 minutes when Carrick gave away a shocking ball into the path of the lively Mpenza who ran at the defence before burying a powerful shot past Bywayer. We had a chance to equalise on 12 minutes when Sheringham burst through but was cynically brought down by a defender in a challenge that might have produced a yellow under more competitive circumstances. However the resulting free kick was deflected harmlessly wide and shortly after we found ourselves 2-0 down. Reo-Coker gave the ball away in a manner that was alarmingly similar to Carrick's earlier slip. Dindane (whose first name disappointingly is not Dinadine) again ran at the defence and his shot hit a defender to wron-foot the helpless Bywater.
Although two goals adrift we then started to try to play some football and the arrears were halved on 17 minutes. Some good work by Sheringham found Harewood on the edge of the box. Marlon managed to slip the ball through to Cohen who was spare on the left hand side and his first time effort gave keeper Zitka no chance.
With the glorious weather being more suited to a day watching cricket, it was perhaps apt that on 25 minutes we had a drinks interval – given the heat, a sensible precaution. Immediately after the break Carrick sent a marvellous ball through to set Harewood free only for Marlon to be pulled back by a suspiciously late flag – let's be charitable and say it was close.
Up the other end Bywater had to be alert to keep out a shot from Wilhelmsson before we nearly equalised in bizarre circumstances. Sheringham beat the offside trap to find hmself tracking a high bouncing ball. Zitka came rushing out to the edge of his box but Teddy beat him to the bounce only to see his header go just wide with the 'keeper stranded.
The action returned to the other end when the 16 year old Vanden Borre was allowed a run on our left before hitting a powerful effort that Bywater did well to keep out. Our turn to go on the attack again and a Rebrov free kick was well saved with Harewood's header from the resulting corner going over. Their turn and Wilhelmsson and Dindane both made Bywater work for his salary.
Then a few seconds before the break it was time for a spot of controversy. Carrick played a ball over the top which Harewood latched onto. Zitka came rushing out of his goal once more but Marlon got there first and lobbed the'keper. Zitka got both hands to the lob to prevent a certain goal. Unfortunately for the visitors Zitka was about a yard outside of the box at the time and, after the briefest of chats with his assistant, referee Beeby issued Zitka with his marching orders. The decision was 100% correct technically speaking – the 'keeper had deliberately handled outside the box to prevent a clear goalscoring opportunity. However, both managers post match were of the opinion that the ref should have taken more account of the friendly status of the match and allowed the player to remain. Either way I was annoyed that I was to be denied some serious wordplay in the event that the match was to go to penalties. I mean a 'keeper by the name of Zitka facing spot-kicks? A gift surely! Wilhelmsson was sacrificed in order to allow sub 'keeper Tristan Peersman on (sorry but funny though the name Tristan is it doesn't come near Zitka for comic value). When the dust had settled Sheringham hit the free-kick into the wall and the whistle went to give us a breather.
We started the second half unchanged, though it didn't take a degree in extreme cleverness to work out that this was unlikely to remain the case throughout the second period, and within a minute we were level. Melville took good advantage of the space that the extra man provided to get forward. He fed Carrick whose cross to the far post found Sheringham who had lost his marker. Teddy's header was well-saved at point blank range but the ball found its way to Melville who had stayed forward to bury a powerful shot past the stranded Peersman.
Within 3 minutes we were in the lead. Repka aimed a long cross to the right to find Sheringham in an identical position to that which had eventually led to Melville's goal. This time Teddy buried the header to give us a 3-2 lead.
The first of our substitutions took place shortly after with Cohen, who had been quietly impressive on the left, being replaced by McAnuff. It later transpired that Cohen had been suffering from a sore hamstring though it isn't thought that the injury is serious.
Having been stunned by the reversal in fortune Anderlecht struggled for a while to find their passing game that had been so effective earlier on, though they did get the ball in the net through Dindane on 54 minutes the effort being disallowed for offside much to the displeasure of the Anderlecht following.
Back up the other end a good run from McAnuff found Harewood in space on the right hand side of the box but Marlon's miscue was of more danger to the corner flag than it was the goal. With 63 minutes on the clock it was time for another substitution and Nowland replaced Reo-Coker. The changes seemed to inspire the visitors and they started to come back into the game. We particularly looked vulnerable down our left hand side or to players running straight at us and Melville had no answer to one such run from Dindane. Well he did have an answer, that being to bring the forward down on the edge of the box. Thankfully the resulting free-kick went just wide though I'm not totally sure Bywater would have got there if it had been the other side of the post.
Melville departed to be replaced by Ferdinand whilst Repka went to be replaced by Mullins and, shortly after we took a 4-2 lead. A Carrick free-kick down on the right was played short to McAnuff whose shot took a deflection – possibly off Rebrov on its way past the 'keeper.
Anderlecht were not finished though and two minutes later they reduced the deficit to one when a fine move down their right hand side found the ball being played in by Vanden Borre to Mpenza who had been given space in the box to convert a simple chance. This prompted another round of substitutions with Sheringham and Harewood departing to be replaced by Sofiane & Pearson respectively.
With 10 minutes left McAnuff had a glorious chance to put the match beyond reach when put in one on one with the 'keeper by Rebrov. Peersman pulled off a fine though his efforts required the subsequent attention of the physio. 5 minutes later Mpenza completed his hat-trick when again fed from the right he was allowed to get a second shot in after his first effort had been blocked. There was just time to bring a fine save out of the stand-in 'keeper up the other end before the whistle went for full time an we could all go home.
Well not quite. The good people from Out Performance (which sounds like Dale Winton in panto to me) had once more put up a trophy for the winners and they were going to get their money's worth. Anderlecht elected to go first and they scored all five. Carrick, Rebrov, Pearson and Ferdinand all converted leaving Nowland to take the 5th kick. Embarrassingly he elected to try a DiCanio-style chip. It was such a poor kick that the keeper had time to sign autographs and go for a pint – in Barking – before allowing the ball to drop into his hands. I describe the kick as embarrassing though I rather suspect that anyone with a haircut like Nowland's is unlikely to know the meaning of the word!
So Anderlecht had won the cup whilst we'd had a fun day out in the sun. It was enjoyable to see two teams on the attack so much for a change. However, if last season is anything to go by, it may be some time before we see another side come to the Boleyn that is willing to show as much ambition. So perhaps we'd better make the most of it.
Now for the real thing. See you at the Crisp Bowl!
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(Replaced Repka) No comments.
(Replaced Melville) No comments.
(Replaced Harewood) No comments.
(Replaced Sheringham) No comments.
(Replaced Reo-Coker) No comments.
Man of the Match: n/a.
West Ham United
Goals: Chris Cohen 17 Andy Melville 46 Teddy Sheringham 50 Jobi McAnuff 64
Booked: None booked. .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Zitka, Dindane, Wilhelmsson, van den Borre, Mpenza.
Subs not used: Rea, Pullen, Semple, Hutton, Deane.
Goals: Mpenza (9, 78, 87), Dindane (13).
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: Zitka.