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West Ham United v Bristol City

Filed: Monday, 31st October 2011
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy was looking forward to Halloween. Then we ruined it for him by telling him that the use of mantraps and anti-personnel mines is illegal in this country. Here's the old sod's look at Tuesday night's match against Bristol City. John Northcutt Supplies the stats as usual...

Thick and fast come the matches as, no sooner do we say farewell to one city (Leicester) than we welcome another of the Bristol variety. Kick-off is 7.45pm at the Boleyn. No engineering works so only the usual rush hour chaos to contend with for this one.

The visitors come to us in a spot of bother. They currently lie bottom of the table having amassed (which is probably not the right word under the circumstances) 9 points from their 14 matches so far with a record of Won 2, Drawn 3 and Lost 9. Strangely their two wins came on the road - 3-2 at Leicester and 2-1 at the weekend at Barnsley - and their away record of Won 2, Drawn 1 (1-1 at Doncaster) and lost 4 (1-0 at Palace, 5-0 at Blackpool, 2-1 at Leeds and 3-1 at Cardiff) means that they have five more points from their travels than they have gained from their home matches so far. The win at Barnsley came as a welcome respite to their recent form - the Doncaster point came eight matches ago.

They’ve been in this division since 2007/08 and, indeed came within a match of making the Premiership that season, losing out to Hull 1-0 in the playoff final. A 10th place finish in 2008/09 was followed by a mixed season in 2009/10 which saw Gary Johnson leave the club “by mutual consent” as they eventually finished in 12th position. Keith Millen took over as caretaker manager for the end of 09/10 with Steve Coppell coming in for the start of 2010/11. Well that was the plan anyway. Coppell resigned after only two matches in charge – only one of which was actually in the League – and announced his immediate retirement from football management, prompting echoes of his equally sudden and mysterious departure from Man City after one month some years previously. I suppose the clues had been there – straight after his introduction as the Robins’ next boss at the end of 2009/10 he promptly disappeared off to the States on holiday for a couple of months.

Millen took over once more from Coppell, this time on a permanent basis, eventually ending up in 16th spot. The start this season, however, cost Millen his job and Derek McInnes came in from St Johnstone only the other week in the hope of turning things around.

In goal their first choice is the familiar figure of David James. Ashton Gate seems an unlikely venue for James to have pitched up at but he’s never been one to adhere to convention, or indeed a decent haircut. His previous employers were Portsmouth and, when some chap called Avram Grant left them he showed an interest in taking over as manager, something that would have been interesting to say the least. When nothing came of his interest, and with his contract expired he signed a one year deal with the Robins in July 2010, the deal being extended for a further year this summer. On signing James expressed the (possibly optimistic) hope that playing for City would keep him in the eye of the England set-up but the fact that the family home is currently an easy commute from somewhere in Devon seemed to feature uppermost in his choice of club.

They have a current Hammer in the squad. Jordan Spence is currently there on a season-long loan (though there is a break option in January 2012). He has captained the England side at every youth level and broke through to the U21 side earlier this year. Since signing pro in 2008 he has spent the vast majority of his career out on loan at various places. Having had time at Leyton Orient and Scunthorpe, he spent a few months at the end of last term with the Robins and the current loan is therefore his second spell at the Ashton Gate club - though the labyrinthine rules on loan transfers will probably preclude his involvement.

The skipper is the long serving Louis Carey. A Bristolian by birth, Carey has over 600 appearances for the Robins having made his debut as long ago as 1995. There was a bit of a blip in 2004 when he joined Coventry City after his contract had expired, but after a mere 27 games with the Sky Blues it became apparent that things weren’t going to work out with the new club and his contract was terminated, allowing him to return to Ashton Gate. An online newspaper interview quotes the player as saying that whilst he appreciated the experience of playing for Coventry, his desire to break the Robins’ club appearance record (held by John Atyeo) meant that, on the whole he wished he’d never played those 27 games for Coventry. A Coventry fan wryly noted in the comment section of the article: “We wish you hadn’t played those 27 games for us as well”. He qualifies for Scotland through his grandparents and has a single Scottish U21 cap, an achievement eclipsed by his being one of the select band of players to have successfully completed the Soccer AM crossbar challenge.

The much-travelled Jamal Campbell-Ryce is currently plying his trade in midfield. Including loan spells he’s turned out for 9 different clubs in the last ten years (ten if you count Southend twice. Thanks to the loan system he managed to blag his way into two promotion celebration parties in the same season, apparently doing open top bus celebrations with both Southend and Colchester on consecutive days. I suspect he might have been less keen to join in had one of the clubs been Carlisle. Campbell-Ryce is a Jamaican international with over 20 caps to his name.

One of the legacies from the Coppell, well “era” is not quite the word to use but you know what I mean, is the presence of midfielder Kalifa Cisse. Cisse gained Premier League experience with Reading for whom Coppell had previously signed the player from the Portuguese side Boavista. Cisse’s one cap for the Malian national side came three years ago, which might have given him work permit issues but for his French citizenship, for which he qualifies through birth.

Up front they have further premiership experience in the form of Jon Stead. After coming to prominence with Huddersfield, Blackburn took a punt but, although the player scored some vital goals towards the end of his first season that kept Blackburn up, the step up to the top flight proved a step too far for the player. After a spell with Sunderland and a loan spell at Derby he joined Sheffield United where his failure to net more than 5 times in a season contributed to their relegation than any of our players ever did. His last goal that season came in the suspiciously convenient 2-1 defeat at Wigan that was rendered meaningless by our failure to lose at Old Trafford. A one match loan spell at Ipswich was made permanent but he fell out of favour and, after a further loan spell at Coventry he looked set to join Blackpool. Blackpool’s lack of funds coupled with Ipswich’s desire to offload the player meant that a knock-down fee was agreed – some sources even suggested a fee of 1p had been agreed. However the player’s wage demands proved too much for the Tangerines. Stead eventually arrived at Ashton Gate in August 2010 for an undisclosed fee.

Nicky Maynard is the current top scorer with four to his name, including the 92nd minute winner at Oakwell at the weekend. A product of the Crewe academy, he was heavily linked with Leicester during the summer with the Foxes reportedly putting in four bids for his services. We were also rumoured to have shown interest, though how serious that interest was with Leicester’s Thai owners willing to spend about £5m is a debatable point. The Robins seemed happy and able to resist Leicester’s overtures, though it remains to be seen whether their resolve will be as sturdy come January if they are still bottom.

So what of us? On the personnel front Rob Green made a welcome return to the fray to remind the visiting Leicester fans of Saturday’s result as the final whistle went, a result slightly more current – and relevant – than the 18 month-old World Cup match they rather boringly kept bringing up. James Tomkins also came on for a slightly hamstrung Abdoulaye Faye – though both should be available for this. Demel continues his build up to his debut, which, on current timings, should take place just before the Olympics – the 2016 ones in Rio looking favourite. Carlton Cole’s knee is apparently all better now and he’ll come in to contention, whilst John Carew will be glad that team selection will be based on footballing grounds rather than the deranged musings of last weekend’s referee who seemed to hallucinate non-existent offences at every turn. Robert Hall is also in contention for a spot in the squad having been brought back from Oxford as cover.

It was an interesting 90 minutes on Saturday. At half time we looked well in control. However, the introduction of Howard caused a few problems and the feeling that we’d need a third to win it proved to be well-founded. Despite this, assuming the manager wants to stick with the Carew/Baldock pairing up front (and the ref doesn’t stick his oar in unnecessarily) and with Noble in fine form at the weekend this is one for which few pundits would predict anything other than a home win. Though I’m made of grumpier and more pessimistic stuff than most pundits this is one we ought to take three points from so I’ll go for 3-1 to us under the lights.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met: You have to go all the way back to 1992/93 when we beat them 2-0 at the Boleyn and 5-1 at Ashton Gate in a season that saw us promoted in second place behind Newcastle.

Referee: Mark Heywood – He’s never refereed us before so hopefully he won’t have picked up any bad habits, such as continually awarding free-kicks against Norwegian strikers for non-existent infringements.

Danger Man: Nicky Maynard – probably their prize asset and the scorer of their late winner up at Barnsley.

Daft fact of the week: In the 1976 match between the clubs at Ashton Gate, the half-time “entertainment” consisted of a chimpanzees’ tea party starring the PG Tips chimps (though I suppose they could have been any old chimps really and we’d have been none the wiser). Look I know I often make these up but really they did. Honest!

Stat man John: Northcutt's corner

Bad boys: sent off

Frank McAvennie H 1990-91

They played for both

Jordan Spence, Joe Durrell, David James,
Bobby Gould ,Jack Landells, Albert Carnelly,
Hugh Monteith, Leroy Rosenior, Ray Atteveld
David Noble, Gavin Williams.


August 1970 A 0-1

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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