FA Cup
West Ham United 2 Manchester United 2

Saturday, 5th January 2013
by Gordon Thrower

Cracking match, wrong result just about sums this one up.

There were a number of changes rung for this one. Reid and Noble were given a deserved rest. Nolan and Collins returned from suspension. Diarra started. Potts came back from Colchester where he'd been on loan just to make me feel bloody old again. And there was a new/old face in the form of Joe Cole in midfield. Starting XI: JJ, Demel. Potts, Collins, Tomkins, Collison, Cole (J), Diarra, Vaz Te, Nolan, Cole (C).

For the first ten minutes or so we barely got a touch. Worked damned hard in closing down but they had a lot of the ball. However, possession figures are one of the most misleading stats you can ever quote. The bottom line was that our opponents didn't have a clue what to do with the ball and, apart from one Smalling cross across the face of goal, they rarely threatened.

We, on the other hand, looked capable of threatening on the break. An over-hit Demel cross was kept alive by Joe Cole and Potts had the confidence to take on the full back to win a corner. Collison took, Diarra's header was cleared with no little desperation off the line by Scholes and Vidic headed away for what should have been a corner but, with the usual dodgy refereeing that this lot continue to get, a goal-kick was awarded.

With twelve gone a Vaz Te run was ended by a cynical trip from Scholes. The advantage was given, correctly, but Collison blazed his shot into the crowd. Scholes' foul satisfied very criterion for a yellow card - it was made cynically with the sole intention of halting Vaz Te's progress - but it'll come as no surprise to anyone that he escaped sanction from ref Atkinson. I wonder how many suspensions Scholes would have had in his career had referees not suspended the laws of the game for him quite so much. Any other player on the pitch would have been carded - as Atkinson later proved.

We suffered a bit of a scare on 20 minutes. A free kick was overhit but Demel either didn't get, didn't hear or didn't act on a call and put the ball out for a corner when the ball was sailing harmlessly out for a goal kick. Vidic got on the end of the corner and Potts cleared from just in front of the line.

The game was beginning to open up. Diarra did well to win in midfield and, although Collison's short pass caught Nolan on the back foot, it was perfect for Joe Cole who took the ball forward. The shot from 30 yards was a tad over-ambitious but the block turned it into a perfect lay-off for Demel whose clever flick won another corner. The ball eventually ended up being nodded on for Nolan who failed to connect properly, the lino's flag for offside making the whole point academic anyway.

The visitors took an undeserved lead on 22 minutes. It was a good goal. Hernandez went down their right and we'd all been pulled one over, leaving Cleverley unmarked to finish giving JJ no chance.

This of course started their Muppet support off with the "United are the team for me" chant. They seem oblivious to the implication that this chant suggests - that they're know-nothing glory hunters who all spent ages looking through stuff before selecting a team at the top from a catalogue. Which is pretty much the case.
Scholes got yellow carded shortly after the goal. Another cynical challenge and it's a sobering thought that any other player would have now been walking off. Cole's free kick found Vaz Te but he couldn't get enough on the header.

We were back on level terms within 4 minutes. Vidic upended Cole (C). Collison's free-kick was cleared but RVT kept the ball in play. RVT played a short ball inside to Joe Cole whose cross was sheer perfection for Collins to head past the stranded De Gea. Fine goal and it shut up the arrogant muppets in the STB no end.

The refereeing leniency continued. Vidic had a wild hack at Cole that he got away with. More seriously we ought to have had a penalty on the half hour. Demel tricked his way to the byline and put over a cross that Collison headed back across goal. Vidic basically threw Nolan to the floor. Question, Mr Atkinson: which part of the ball did Vidic actually get there? The fact that it was Scholes who made the clearance should give you a clue.

Seeing their side outfought and dependent on a friendly ref must have been hard for the visiting support, some of whom appeared to have come from as far as Chelmsford if the banners were to be believed. Which I suspect is why they started holding on to the ball in the STB. Occasionally chucking it back on when the replacement was in play. The QI book of facts lists Man Utd as the most detested brand (for a "brand" is what they are rather than a football club) in the UK - and the 5th most hated in the world. Much of that has to be down to the ignorant cretins who follow them.

Despite the original ball being thrown back on whilst the replacement was in play the ref failed to stop play as required by the laws and Welbeck was allowed to break away, eventually drawing a save out of JJ - possibly the only proper save he had to make all game.

Collison then picked up a yellow for a foul on Rafael, the nature of which highlighted just how fortunate Scholes was to still be on the pitch. As if to underline the double standards that apply Scholes then had a hack at Nolan which went unpunished by anything more than a free kick. "Persistent foul play" doesn't apply apparently.

Another ball disappeared into the crowd of thieving away support. Collison then started to wonder about his caution as another cynical trip by Smalling on Potts escaped a yellow as the game entered a scrappy period. Rafael then went down with nobody within a yard of him. It was a stumble rather than an out and out dive, but they are so used to getting free-kicks every time they go down that he automatically grabbed the ball. Hilariously, even Atkinson wasn't buying that one and gave the correct free-kick for handball.

Carlton then got the better of Vidic but his ball into the box was behind his namesake and, although the angle was good, it didn't have enough on it to reach Nolan and the ball was cleared. Two minutes of stoppage were added and we were on the front foot as the whistle went for half time.

Half time: West Ham United 1 Manchester United 1

Apparently the embarrassing entertainment for the evening had taken place before the match while I was picking up the teamsheets so I am, thankfully, unable to pass comment on the rap "artist" that appeared before the game other than to say that everyone who did see him made a point of telling me how lucky I was not to have seen him. A young kid who was at the match as a guest of Upton Girlie asked me where I disappeared to after matches. I told him that I had a special secret underground bunker where I kept the Gnomemobile like in the great Batman TV series from the 1960s. The kid looked at me in the same way that my Mum once did when I tried to explain Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle to her and he asked "what's Batman?" - whereupon I felt very old again.

We started off the second half as we'd ended the first. A matter of seconds had passed when Joe Cole got on to the end of a knockdown only to put the ball into the Bobby Moore, whose patrons I am happy to say, showed infinitely more class than the muppets at the other end of the ground by returning the ball immediately.

The match went through another scrappy period, the much-vaunted Man Utd seemingly settling for the long punt downfield as a tactic. There was a slight worry when Collison had the wind knocked out of him by Rafael but the physio's thumbs up allowed the influential midfielder to continue after a spot of treatment.

Just before the hour we forced a save out of the keeper. Joe Cole did marvellously well to not only keep a ball in but also to get the cross in. His namesake's resulting header was goalbound but De Gea saved well, though there was a slight suspicion that the save had been ever-so-slightly unnecessarily spectacular.

Shortly after we took the lead. We won a corner on the left which was cleared out to Joe Cole who took a touch or two to weigh up his options before sending over another cross for Collins to head home. It was a carbon copy of the first goal and every bit as splendid and the visitors could have no complaints about being behind, though knowing them they probably found something to moan about.

Whilst the goal celebrations were in progress we quietly made a change with Jarvis coming on for Vaz Te who had been beginning to look a bit knackered.

The muppet chorus, instead of trying to get behind their team, were totally silent, as if somebody had tried to explain Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle to them. There was one change there though. After another 60 yard pass from Scholes (funny how it's a long pass when they do it but hoof ball when we do it) had gone into the STB they suddenly found a strange urge to return the ball as soon as possible odd that.

Joe Cole had taken a snidey blow to the face from a suspiciously flailing arm that went (usurprisingly) unpunished. This left him with claret pouring out of his face and requiring a spot of treatment. This left Upton Girlie drooling as the sight of a topless midfielder tends to leave her all gooey-eyed. I suppose we can be thankful that this week's flavour of the month is, at least, any good - her previous crush was on the useless tart-botherer Kovac. Cole eventually re-emerged with a clean - and un-numbered - shirt and cotton wool sticking out of his nose.

With a quarter of the game left Scholes - who was probably only another ten fouls away from getting a second yellow - and Hernandez left to be replaced by Valencia and Van Persie. Van Persie's first touch was to head a near post corner harmlessly wide.

With 18 left Diarra, who had had a decent match, left to be replaced by Noble and with 13 left Giggs came on for Smalling and Joe Cole got a deserved ovation when being replaced by Matt Taylor.

Jem then had to make an announcement requesting the Chicken Run patrons to head towards the Barking Road post match lest they have to encounter a few drunken muppets who, from the lack of noise from that part of the ground, were all sleeping off their hangovers. Jem tried to introduce a bit of humour to proceedings by suggesting that the change of route would do the Chicken Run patrons a bit of good, something that apparently earned him a telling off from the powers that be. Which was a bit of a shame really.

Vidic finally picked up the yellow card his efforts all evening had probably warranted, though whether his wild hack at Jarvis or his subsequent blasting of the ball into the crowd was the offence that was punished I couldn't tell you. The free kick came out to Collison who put his shot high and wide.

We came within inches of putting the game to bed with three left on the clock. Nolan's clever layoff to Jarvis saw the no.7 cross, Noble nodded on Taylor got something on it and De Gea just managed to do enough to put Cole off.

Giggs then put a header over from 6 yards and, as a slightly generous 4 minutes went up on the board, Giggs' long ball (yeah I know) then found Van Persie who Tomkins had left and the Dutchman stuck away a fine finish to give the visitors the draw they never really looked like getting.

Full time: West Ham United 2 Manchester United 2

There's something about teams from the North West coming to the Boleyn and getting results they don't deserve. Liverpool, Everton and now Salford have all gotten away with murder this season and a replay is probably an extra game that, if truth be told, we could probably do without. Still there were a lot of positives to be taken from the match with decent performances all over the pitch.

And at least in the replay there'll be some proper away support!

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Player Ratings

Jussi Jaaskelainen
One good save. Otherwise largely unemployed.

Guy Demel
Better, especially going forward where he looked less like he was at a lost as to what to do when he got there.

Danny Potts
Fine match. Not at all put out by the so-called quality of the opposition and was well looked after by his senior teammates.

James Tomkins
By and large a good game but the ball over his shoulder is one to which he is always suspect - and so it proved late on.

James Collins
Two great headers for the goals. Strong in defence where he got some important blocks in.

Alou Diarra
Looked knackered at the end but this was a good solid outing from the Frenchman.

Jack Collison
Continues to improve and looks to be getting back to his best.

Joe Cole
Splendid return. Quietly influential throughout pulling strings here, prompting there. Just goes to show exactly what a waste of a player it was sending him to a club as mediocre as Liverpool.

Ricardo Vaz Te
Judged on his normal game this was not one of his more inspiring games. Nevertheless he got through a hell of a lot of the sort of hard work that doesn't get you noticed.

Kevin Nolan
Like Vaz Te he was slightly disappointing going forward. Also like Vaz Te he got through a lot of hard work.

Carlton Cole
Vidic didn't really have a clue how to deal with him other than to kick lumps out of him throughout.


Matt Jarvis
(Replaced Vaz Te, 61)
Took the ball forward well when he came on for Vaz Te.

Mark Noble
(Replaced Diarra, 73)
Not as influential as he normally is when on from the start. Understandably so.

Matt Taylor
(Replaced J.Cole, 78)
Most notable contribution was getting something on Collison's knock-down that nearly led to Cole putting the game beyond reach.

Raphael Spiegel
Did not play.

Winston Reid
Did not play.

Jordan Spence
Did not play.

Elliott Lee
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel , Danny Potts, James Tomkins, James Collins, Alou Diarra, Jack Collison, Joe Cole, Ricardo Vaz Te, Kevin Nolan, Carlton Cole.

Goals: James Collins 27 James Collins 59                .

Booked: Jack Collison 38          .

Sent off: None.

Manchester United: David De Gea, Rafael da Silva, Johnny Evans, Chris Smalling, Alexander Buttner, Nemanja Vidic, Paul Scholes, Tom Cleverley, Shinja Kagawa, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez.

Subs not used: Anders Lindegaard, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Young, Federico Macheda.

Goals: Tom Cleverley (23), Robin Van Persie (90+1).

Booked: Paul Scholes (24), Nemanja Vidic (83).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

Attendance: 32,922.

Man of the Match: James Collins.