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West Ham United v Cardiff City: play-off semi final, second leg

Filed: Sunday, 6th May 2012
By: Preview Percy

When we went round to pick up Preview Percy's latest ramblings we found him fast forwarding and rewinding footage of Liverpool picking up their FA Cup losers' medals and laughing uncontrollably. When he showed us Gerrard's face we had to admit it was quite funny. Eventually we managed to interrupt his giggling to grab a copy of his latest set of musings. John Northcutt, as ever, pops in with the history...

And so to England v Wales part 2. It being a bank holiday in these parts kick-off is at 4pm. It being a bank holiday in these parts there are engineering works on the tube with no Hammersmith & City line service between Barking and King’s Cross. This will be an inconvenience for anyone arriving from Paddington, though the last time I looked there were still restrictions on some tickets which would involve visiting supporters travelling via some of the lesser-known moons of Saturn or something. It’s probably a bank holiday there too.

We go into this one in good shape after a thoroughly professional first leg performance the other night. There were a number of outstanding displays throughout the team, including a splendid runout rom Carlton Cole. Although he was not to be found on the score sheet in Wales, he continued where he had left off against Hull and completely bossed the Cardiff defence.

Prior to the first leg you couldn’t turn your hearing aid on without coming across some statement or another from somebody of a Welsh persuasion commenting on all our failings and how much the pressure was on us. For our part we remained pretty quiet on the matter and, it’s an old cliché I know but, we effectively let our football do the talking.

Post match Bluebirds boss Malky McKay put a brave face on things. The basic gist of what he had to say was that if only they’d taken all their chances they’d have scored more and would have won and that he was jolly sure that they could go to London and get a result. I guess when you’re a manager being interviewed after a damaging defeat you have to put some sort of spin on things. After all, “they bossed the game and we have a mountain to climb in the second leg” is not exactly going to act as much of a confidence booster to your players, is it.

However, whilst I don’t blame McKay for trying do the best for his team there is one thing from his after match comments with which I’d take issue. His description of Collison’s second goal as a “random fluke” or words to that effect was a bit disingenuous. Lawrence’s interjection changed only the part of the net to which the ‘keeper would have to visit to retrieve the ball.

They’re continuing to put brave faces on things and McKay was recently heard calling for the “spirit of Istanbul” to inspire his players, in reference to Liverpool’s So-Called Champions League win after being 3-0 down a few years back. It’s to be hoped that they don’t take that call literally given that Liverpool’s “win” came courtesy of a number of outrageously blatant dives and cheating in the penalty shoot out (as with our Cup Final Reina seemed to be allowed carte blanche to save penalties from the edge of the 6 yard box).

They’ve also pointed out that our 2-0 lead is a “dangerous” score. Well it’s worked on me. I can’t think what must have been going through our minds when taking a 2-0 lead back to the Boleyn and, if you asked me now whether I’d rather be 2-0 up than 2-0 down after the first leg I’d probably have to phone a friend to find out the answer. Not.

Team news is that we have a full set from which to choose whilst the visitors have doubts over defender Kevin McNaughton, who missed the first leg, and midfielder Don Cowie, who picked up an injury in the first leg.

All the talk before the first leg was of pressure and how, psychologically, we’d be at a disadvantage having missed out on automatic promotion. In the event, there were psychological effects at work but these seemed to be all in the minds of our opponents.

I mentioned recently that in the previous two league matches it must have crossed their minds that, despite the opening day defeat, over the two spells of 90 minutes we had been the better side. If the previous two matches weren’t on their mind, the nature of the victory on Thursday night will certainly give them something to think about. McKay’s spin notwithstanding, even our friends at “Wales Online” (still makes me laugh that one) used the word “outclassed” in their headline.

Of course, this is West Ham we are talking about and we do have this unique way of being able to mess things up in novel and unusual ways that no other club seems to possess. So any optimistic thoughts are accompanied by lashings of crossing of fingers and the touching of wood.

However, as with my prediction for the first leg I still think we’ll qualify for Wembley and I’ll go for a momentum and put the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered Diamond Jubilee Celebration Fund (£2.50) on a morale boosting 2-0 win. Sorry if that’s too optimistic.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met: Weren’t you paying attention?

Danger Man (1): Referee Mike Dean. Capable of changing any game he likes on a whim. Seems to believe we’re all here to watch him referee. Although he does need watching this should preferably be undertaken by an assessor with the guts to stand up to the PGMO and give him the low marks his performances actually deserve.

Danger Man (2): Peter Whittingham. I’ll stick with Whittingham although I have a slight worry that Kenny Miller’s one goal in 22 match run is just the sort of sequence that we have a habit of busting.

Daft Fact of the Week: Cardiff has only been the capital of Wales since 1955 when it won a competition with the town of Caernarfon. Cardiff won the vote amongst Welsh local authorities keen to preserve the illusion that it’s a proper country and, as a result, got the M4. Caernarfon, on the other hand, got left alone to remain a pleasant seaside town on the Menai Strait with a nice castle and unencumbered by having to put up with districts called “Splott”.

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 50; West Ham Utd 26, Cardiff 9, Draws 15.

Biggest Win
24th March 1928: Cardiff City 1-5 West Ham Utd (Ninian Park, Division One)

Heaviest Defeat
12th March 1949: Cardiff City 4-0 West Ham Utd (Ninian Park, Division Two)

First Meeting
25th September 1920: Cardiff City 0-0 West Ham Utd (Ninian Park, Division Two)

Last Five Meetings
3rd May 2012: Cardiff City 0-2 West Ham Utd (CC Stadium, Championship play-off)
4th March 2012: Cardiff City 0-2 West Ham Utd (CC Stadium, Championship)
7th August 2011: West Ham Utd 0-1 Cardiff City (Boleyn Ground, Championship)
6th February 2005: West Ham Utd 1-0 Cardiff City (Boleyn Ground, Championship)
2nd November 2004: Cardiff City 1-4 West Ham Utd (Ninian Park, Championship)

Memorable Match
23rd September 2003: Cardiff City 2-3 West Ham Utd (Ninian Park, Carling Cup)

A tale of two strikers - Robert Earnshaw vs Jermain Defoe. The Welsh international gave the home side the perfect start in this 2003/04 season Carling Cup encounter by scoring twice within the opening half-hour. However Defoe - who had been heavily criticised in the lead-up to this game for a perceived lack of commitment (four months before he was sold to Tottenham) sent West Ham, under the watchful eye of temporary manager Trevor Brooking through to the third round round with a hat-trick. Having reduced the deficit to one on the stroke of half time from the penalty spot (a bad decision by referee Andy D'Urso as David Connolly had simply slipped) Defoe levelled the scored on 64 minutes before pouncing in the 89th minute to win the game for the visitors. Brooking responded by telling the press "that's probably as satisfying as it gets as a caretaker manager".

Just the one: 17th August 1988. West Ham won 4-3 at Ninian Park through goals from Kelly (2), Slater and Keen.

They Played For Both
Clive Charles; Craig Bellamy; James Collins; John Burton; William Charlton; Ian Feuer; Danny Gabbidon; Jobi McAnuff; Keith Robson; Bill Stephens.

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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