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Saturday, 11th May 2002

West Ham United 2
Bolton Wanderers 1

by Gordon Thrower

The day started with a meet in the Wakefield as a warm-up for the KUMB drink-up that was to take place later. Faces duly put to names, we then put the world to rights as Thrower senior (sadly not wearing a rosette) and Brillo started reminiscing about players the rest of us only knew of from pictures of cigarette cards!

The match itself was a "funny old game" as I believe the expression goes. The first quarter of an hour saw us struggle to get a grip on the midfield, though Bolton seemed short on ideas with several long-distance shots drifting harmlessly wide.

However, slowly but surely, Cole, Carrick and Sinclair started to cause Bolton problems. Up front Kanoute was controlling
the ball well whilst Defoe was outstanding. His running off the ball
was superb and his constant harrying of the Bolton defence meant that there was no such thing as a lost cause.

The opening goal came a little before half time. A strong run from
Sinclair down the left ended with a short pass to Carrick who fed Defoe. Defoe cut inside and his shot was parried by Jaaskelainen, Lomas being on hand to put away the rebound.

Bolton made two substitutions at the interval, Nolan replacing Tofting whilst the ineffectual Ricketts was replaced by Holdsworth. On yesterday's showing it is to be hoped that Ricketts is not being lined up as a replacement to Freddie should some of the rumours flying around be true.

We dominated the start of the second half with Cole using the match to show off his full array of tricks, hitting the post with one effort and ending a spot of ball juggling with a cross that the Bolton defence were fortunate to scramble away.

However, despite this dominance, Thrower senior's assertion
that "we'll need another goal to make sure of this" proved spot on. Bolton had moved from having no particular tactic to adopting the ploy of playing it up to Holdsworth to see if he could cause Repka any problems.

This far from cunning plan resulted in the awarding of what, from my admittedly distant vantage point, seemed to be a harsh decision against Repka. James seemed to have parried Djorkaeff's free kick but the ball ended up in thenet much to James' own annoyance.

That was about it for Bolton. However, despite the pressure, several chances went begging. Kanoute managed to hit the bar from a couple of feet and runs down the right hand side from Cole and Defoe both ended in low crosses that went unconverted.

It was left to the last minute of normal time for Ian Pearce to put away Carrick's corner to cue joyous celebrations all round. Carrick was replaced by Moncur and Kanoute by Garcia for the final few moments.

However, despite a rousing chorus of "We want Pottsy on the pitch" fellow KUMB message board regular Rio B's main man sadly didn't get on.

The final whistle was followed by a version of "Bubbles" that gave the West Stand's acoustics a nice workout as the sad (not) news of Spurs' defeat filtered through.

Now for the bit that gets everyone arguing ...

Player ratings:

David James (7) Although later viewings of the Bolton goal showed a wicked deflection off Lomas, James probably should have done a bit better - he appeared to think so himself. Otherwise strong and his distribution at times was superb.

Ian Pearce (7) Didn't put a foot wrong at right back and clearly enjoyed his goal as much as we did.

Nigel Winterburn (8) He believes he has another year left in him and, on this display, I agree.Come on Glenn - if he'll take a pay cut it has to be value for money.

Tomas Repka (6) Looked fairly solid but sometimes leaves you with your heart in your mouth with some of his challenges - one in particular on Ricketts early on looked a bit dodgy to me.

Christian Dailly (8) Surely a cert for the Most Improved Player award this year. Looked calmly assured throughout.

Trevor Sinclair (8) An excellent game from Trev who showed no signs of disappointment at his omission from the World Cup party. Still in with a shout following the injury to Dyer.

Joe Cole (8) Enjoyed himself. Will have to watch the dissent in Japan though.

Steve Lomas (7) Strong, steady, the usual Lomas adjectives apply. Took his goal well as the ball came back off the 'keeper at an awkward height.

Michael Carrick (6) Faded sharply in the second half (or as Thrower senior put it - "he looks knackered"). Turned out that this was due to a recurrence of the groin problem he had earlier in the year.

Freddie Kanoute (6) Excellent control throughout and held the ball up well. However let down a bit by his finishing.

Jermain Defoe (9) Full of intelligent running and energy. Chased everything and often created chances out of nothing as a result of his refusal to give up lost causes.

Subs: John Moncur & Richard Garcia

Neither were on long enough for a proper mark. However, bonus points to Moncur for the slide tackle on the ball boy whilst warming up.

Ref: M L Dean (4) Over fussy and inconsistent.

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