Premier League
West Ham United 4 Southampton 1

Saturday, 20th October 2012
by Gordon Thrower

Bit of an odd one, this one.

Quite a few of us were looking forward to this as a result of the visitors' antics in the corresponding fixture last term that would have embarrassed Luis Suarez. Team news was that the back problem suffered by Winston Reid had recovered despite his having spent two days on a plane. Guy Demel's hip was still acting up requiring the inclusion of James Tomkins in an unfamiliar right back role. Surgery on Vaz Te's shoulder means we won't be seeing him for a while meaning that Yossi Benayoun was given his first start of the season. Starting line-up: JJ, Tomkins, McCartney, Reid, Collins, Benayoun,Noble, Diame, Jarvis, Nolan Carroll.

The first half was poor and can be summed up thus:

West Ham United 0 Southampton 0

Yup it was that bad. The only thing of note was the visiting support singing the "we dive to the floor" song. At least I hope that's what they were singing, because a) it would have been quite accurate and b) if they were singing "play on the floor" in celebration of the 14 passes before sending the ball back to the 'keeper tactic they seem to have adopted they need their heads examined more than I thought.

After an interval slightly spoilt by having to read an article in the matchday programme about a couple of old fools who run a website - such publicity will only encourage them in my opinion - the match resumed. With barely a minute or so on the clock Carroll was flattened by Hooiveld. The ref gave himself a second to see whether any advantage would accrue before awarding the free-kick. Noble's delivery looked a bit flat to me but with half a dozen players running across his path, Boruc was totally deceived by the flight of the ball and it went in untouched by another player, despite Ginge's initial optimistic/cheeky celebration that appeared to indicate otherwise. The rest of the players knew beret and made a beeline towards Noble to give the credit where it was due.

We'd barely come to terms with the shock of having seen a goal so soon after the resumption when we were 2-0 to the good. Benayoun robbed Mashida and, unopposed by any interest from the opposition defence, bore down on the Southampton box before playing a low ball across the six-yard box. Boruc couldn't get anything on it and Fonte seemed disinterested in trying to find out whether he could make a clearance, leaving Nolan with an easy tap-in at the far post to cue the chicken dance.

Nolan could have added to his tally a few minutes later. Carroll was brought down for the umpteenth time about 20 yards out. Nobleplayed a clever ball into the box where Nolan had made an untracjed run, only for the skipper to shoot straight at Boruc whose parry was cleared away.

Just after the hour the visitors reduced the deficit. Davis's long ball from the back (irony anyone?) found Rodriguez on theleft. Rodriguez looked to have been a couple of feet offside when the ball was played but play continued and Rodriguez was able to turn Collins before playing in Lallana, whose turn and shot from 12 yards gave JJ no chance whatsoever.
For a few moments after the goal we looked a bit edgy, none more so than when Lallana threw himself to the floor under minimal contact to con a free-kick out of the ref. Sub Lambert, no stranger to the occasional unprompted tumble himself, took the resulting free kick which cleared the bar by a few inches with JJ motionless.

With 68 played, O'Neil replaced Diame and three minutes later the two-goal cushion was restored. Hooiveld climbed all over Carroll yet again giving us a free-kick about 35 yards out. Noble delivered and Fonte played the ball away with his arm before pulling Carroll down by the ponytail. I'm not sure which of the offences was penalised but we only got one penalty which, as ever, was dispatched by Noble who sent Boruc the wrong way to make it 3-1.

With 15 minutes left the ref finally lost patience with Hooiveld who bundled Carroll over yet again. Noble's free-kick failed to beat the wall and Southampton were able to clear it with a 70 yard boot into no-man's land.

Carroll came off with ten left to play to be replaced by Maiga and it took 8 minutes for the Malian to make his mark. Bringing down a loose ball on the right of midfield he ran at the Southampton defence, deceiving three defenders before somehow digging out the ball from under his feet to place a marvellously curled shot inside the far post. A fine goal to make it 4-1.

The manager took the opportunity to give Jordan Spence a few minutes in place of Tomkins, who had been suffering from cramp and the game ended with us knocking the ball about, which was rather amusing for us as the "play on the floor" chant was returned with interest. If only any of the visiting support had stuck around to see it.

Full time: West Ham United 1 Southampton 1

If the Arsenal game had been a good performance without a result, the reverse could be said of this game where we managed to rack up four goals without ever quite getting out of the lower gears. And after that first half, if you'd told me that there would be five goals in the second, I'd have applied to have had you sectioned.

Southampton were poor and will probably have to rely on there being three other teams playing worse than they are if they are to stay up - and that's not the case at the moment.

As for us the win sees us sitting in the dizzy heights of 7th place level on points with Spurs, West Brom and, possibly Everton (whose match is in progress at time of writing). You can't knock that and, whilst there's a tough run of games to come, the all important confidence levels will be in good shape to the extent that we can start looking forward to such matches, rather than quivering in trepidation. And that's no bad thing.

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Player Ratings

Jussi Jaaskelainen
A pretty quiet day for the 'keeper really. A bit sow off his line on one occasion prompting a few words between him and Reid but I can't remember him having to make any real saves.

James Tomkins
Never quite looks totally comfortable at full-back.

George McCartney
Solid defensively without catching the eye as an attacking force.

James Collins
Generally ok but he did get away with a couple of lapses.

Winston Reid
Once more our best defender. Having a fine season.

Mark Noble
Caught the sponsors' eye for MOTM with two goals. Not sure I quite agree but he had a good game nevertheless.

Mo Diame
A bit quieter than of late, never really seemed to get into the game.

Kevin Nolan
A decent run out though his goal won't be the hardest he'll ever score. Could have had a second with a bit more luck.

Yossi Benayoun
My MOTM, he was all over the place like one of those annoying little dogs. Good work for Nolan's goal.

Matt Jarvis
Another who had a quiet game. There were little glimpses here and there but they were too few and far between.

Andy Carroll
A constant thorn in the side of the visitors' defence, who had to resort to illegal tactics to deal with him throughout.


Gary O'Neil
(Replaced Diame, 68)
Didn't really catch the eye when replacing Diame.

Modibo Maiga
(Replaced Carroll, 823)
The goal gave us a tantalising glimpse of what he can do. Just a shame our system doesn't provide for two out and out strikers.

Jordan Spence
(Replaced Tomkins)
Just a cameo for the youngster who was given a couple of minutes to save Tomkins' legs from further cramp.

Raphael Spiegel
Did not play.

Leo Chambers
Did not play.

Robert Hall
Did not play.

Carlton Cole
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Jussi Jaaskelainen, James Tomkins, George McCartney, James Collins, Winston Reid, Mark Noble, Mo Diame, Kevin Nolan, Yossi Benayoun, Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll.

Goals: Mark Noble 46 Kevin Nolan 48 Mark Noble 72 Modibo Maiga 87            .

Booked: None.

Sent off: None.

Southampton: Artur Boruc, Nathaniel Clyne, Jos Hooiveld, Jose Fonte, Maya Yoshida, Jason Puncheon, Morgan Schneiderlin, Steven Davis, Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez, Guly Do Prado.

Subs not used: Kelvin Davis, Daniel Seaborne, Richard Chaplow, Ben Reeves.

Goals: Adam Lallana (63).

Booked: Jos Hooiveld (77), Morgan Schneiderlin (81).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick.

Attendance: 34,925.

Man of the Match: Yossi Benayoun.