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Friday, 19th July 2002

Leyton Orient 3
West Ham United 1

by Gordon Thrower

Before I get onto the report proper I should point out that your reporter spent pre-match in a hostelry in the company of fellow message board regular "Romford" and pals. That, added to a few lunchtime pints, may make the following report possibly the least reliable ever seen on this site! Not that I didn't take my reporting duties seriously - I did buy a notebook to make a note of the teams. If only I could read my handwriting!

The match itself was (and I've always wanted to say this) a game of two halves. Hammers started with a virtual first team, the notable absentees being James, Cole and Sinclair (having an extra post-World Cup break) and Di Canio & Schemmel (recovering from injury).

To be honest, the first half was a fairly typical pre-season testimonial. Hammers were, for the most part, content to stroll through the match. Notable exceptions were Defoe who did a lot of chasing and seemed to take it seriously enough to moan about the odd refereeing decision, and Courtois who had one mazy run in particular that deserved more. Meanwhile former hammer Ian Feuer pulled off some good saves from Dailly & Pearce.

West Ham took the lead mid-way through the first half. A ball played into the box from wide out right (possibly from Garcia (R)) found Defoe whose control, turn and shot were worthy of a better match than this.

During the course of the first half The O's did force several corners and my notebook contains the line "Van Der Thingy second to the ball as O's striker heads over". The equaliser came from a corner on the West Ham right. Pearce went for and missed a header and in the ensuing confusion Fletcher was able to nod home from close-range. That was the last action of the first half.

West Ham United (first half team): Van Der Gouw, Pearce, Winterborn, Dailly, Repka, Carrick, Lomas, Courtois, Garcia (R), Kanoute, Defoe.

For the second half Roeder predictably made wholesale changes. The sole survivor of the half-time cull was Garcia (R) who played for most of the second half before picking up a knock. The second half Hammers were a mixture of reserves and youngsters as follows (in on particular order)

Ford, Garcia (R), Garcia (O), Labant, Minto, Irriekpen, Soma, Camara, McCann, Allen and Ferdinand. (Although Romford's pal's proposed line up of eleven Ferdinands might have been more interesting!)

It was fairly obvious that this eleven lacked any cohesion as a unit and the game slowly petered out into a turgid pattern of O's midfield possession broken up by the occasional Hammers break. Most of the Hammers chances fell the way of Camara who, whisper it, appears to have lost a bit of weight. Titi got into some good positions but his finishing could have been better although, to be fair, some of the chances he missed were harder than others.

Shortly after Romford and gang left for a curry Soma thought he had made it 2-1 when, following a short spell of pressure the ball came out to him just outside the box. The resulting volley past the keeper was superb. Unfortunately the over fussy linesman spotted an offside although it was particularly harsh of the officials to decide that anyone could have been interfering with play at that point.

O's took the lead shortly before the end when Nugent got on to the end of a deep cross from the right to send a looping header over Ford. A 3rd goal from Campbell-Wright came after I had left in a thankfully successful attempt to make it back to my local for last orders.

So what did we learn from the second half? Not much really. I'd certainly prefer to see Oscar playing with a first team line up before making any decisions.

To summarise the main things I took from the march were:

1) It was a pleasant enough evening out, but if you're looking for any serious pointers for next season, forget it.

2) The new away kit looks horrible.

3) NEVER agree to do a match report if you're going to have a pre-match session!!

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