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Saturday, 3rd May 2003

West Ham United 1
Chelsea 0

by Gordon Thrower

Drained!

Blimey - where to begin! Well as ever "The Wakefield" is as good a place to start as any - having taken a diversion via Barking Road to have a gander at the new statue first. The KUMB - bar soon packed out and it was a pleasure to meet so many of the message board regulars for the end of season festivities. Amongst those present (and apologies if I've missed anyone) were Amsterhammer and Mark (aka Son Of), Bluebutterfly, Blod, Believe In The Bubbles, Maltese Hammer, Rio B, Sicknote, Sam, Bonehead, Northern Bird, the frighteningly young Un'appy'Ammer, Paddy the Greek, Adam The Smudge, Smudge, Chalks and Brillo. Special mention must go to Lost Hammer who provided the chosen few with some rather splendid T shirts bearing the club crest, kumb website address and wearer's nickname. Sadly missed was Romford who was suffering from an attack of gout. Get well soon mate.

Team news was that Trevor Brooking was going for an adventurous line-up with three up front, the three being Sir Les, Jermain and Freddi. Dailly was in for the suspended Pearce at the back whilst Paolo Di Canio was on the bench for the first time since his infamous substitution away at West Brom.

The match started at a hectic pace. Kanoute missed an early chance, taking an air shot from Sinclair's cross from the left. Shortly after Freddi met Brevett's cross from the right with a fine header, only to see Cudicini make a superb save. We pressed forward time and time again only to be foiled by excellent goalkeeping or poor finishing. Ferdinand, for example, might have done better from 12 yards when getting on the end of Kanoute's header down. Meanwhile the impressive Cudicini blocked a Sinclair volley with his legs.

Up the other end Chelsea created little, although James did have to clear a Lampard header off the line after a corner. However, although we had by far the better of the play, we weren't converting the pressure into the goals our play deserved. Unusually for us we actually looked dangerous from corners - at the right end too! A Brevett corner found Lomas unmarked at the far post but the Irishman could only put his header wide from a few feet.

I was concerned at half time that our dominance wasn't meeting with the reward I reckon it deserved and I had this recurring nightmare of Hasselbaink coming on to pinch the match with his customary goal against us.

The second half started at a less frantic pace. Freddi missed another chance, heading wide from a Sinclair cross from the left. However, we were creating less in the way of clear-cut chances. Then, 10 minutes into the second half, the tiring Sir Les was replaced, to tumultuous applause, by Paolo DiCanio. We continued to press forward in numbers and Cudicini did well to tip a Lomas header over.

Chelsea's only chance during this period came when Zola found Gudjohnsen unmarked in the box only for the Chelsea man to repeat Kanoute's airshot from the same spot.

Then on 71 minutes came the moment that everyone had hardly dared hope for. I mean come on, really. PDC comes on as sub for an emotional farewell to the Boleyn and scores the winner? Even the scriptwriters off EastEnders would reject that one as being too far fetched. Kanoute combined well with Cole to find Sinclair out wide on the right hand side. Tricky's cross took a couple of deflections off defenders on its way through to Paolo who buried the ball from the 6-yard line. To say the ground erupted would be an understatement. Windows must have been rattling in Barking. Paolo was buried under a mountain of players as the DiCanio song rang out over the Boleyn.

Chelsea immediately replaced Gudjohnsen and Zola with Hasselbaink and Carlton Cole and, shortly after, Morris with Zenden. Referee D'Urso found 4 minutes to add on, during which James made one good save from Zenden, and an even better one from Lampard at the death as the clock ran down. Cudicini came up for the corner but, to the relief of all, nothing came of it as the ref finally blew for full time. PDC, myself and, no doubt many others present, sank to our knees in relief at the deserved victory. Frankly, after a, shall we say "testing" week that I'd rather forget, I felt like crying but somehow managed not to.

We returned to the Wakefield where we were joined by webmeister UtJ and RichieRiv, who proceeded to tell anyone within earshot (about a 3 mile radius) exactly who it is on the message board that he hates - just about everyone I think it was!

Brett Ormerod managed to put a slight downer on things by his inability to hit a cow's backside with a banjo for Southampton v Bolton. However good company provided for an enjoyable evening, although a recent bout of ill health meant I was unable to join in with the alcoholic consumption. Thankfully for the pub's profits, Sicknote more than made up for my abstention as he weaved his unsteady way towards a wedding. Chalks revealed that he had predicted Paolo's goal and went into far too graphic detail as to exactly how he planned to repay the Italian. Good taste prevents me from going into detail here. Suffice to say if Paolo had known before kick-off he'd probably have missed the chance!

So we ended our home season on a high. It's been a season of "if onlys" but the biggest one has to be our early home form. If we'd played with half as much passion, workrate and skill earlier on we wouldn't be in this mess. There's still hope but I fear that the season may be a week too short. I hope I'm wrong.

Get well soon Glenn.

Player Ratings

David James (7) barely tested but not found wanting when it counted.

Rufus Brevett (7) strong at the back and put some dangerous crosses in.

Glen Johnson (5) Young Hammer of the year but his passing was not at its best today.

Christian Dailly (7) Improved as the game went on - kept the Chelsea front line very quiet.

Tomas Repka (7) Strong performance, although there were a couple of "interesting" moments.

Joe Cole (7) TB's decision to go with 3 up front required a lot of hard work from the midfield trio. Hammer of the Year Joey did not shirk his responsibilities.

Steve Lomas (7) Got through a lot of hard work and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.

Trevor Sinclair (8) Always dangerous, Tricky got up and down both flanks and gets my MOTM award.

Les Ferdinand (6) Did ok - especially considering the fact that his season seemed to have ended last week.

Freddie Kanoute (8) Excellent control and might have had a hat-trick with a bit more luck or a different keeper.

Jermain Defoe (7) Not much in the way of chances but got through a prodigious amount of work.

Substitute

Paolo Di Canio (7) What can one say. When he came on he wanted to take every corner, throw and free kick. If that's to be his home farewell, Ciao Paolo and thanks for everything.

Referee

Andy D'Urso (5) fussy and became unnecessarily card-happy for 10 minutes in the second half.

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