West Ham United 2 Pacos de Ferreira 1

Saturday, 10th August 2013
by Gordon Thrower

Not quite a proper match report for not quite a proper match.

The final pre-season friendly of 2013 came against Pacos De Ferreira, the sort of club that, until last season's unprecedented third place finish in the Portuguese league, that only its mum would recognise walking down the street.

As if to underline that fact, I was able to count 12 people in the away section before kick-off, though two of them were stewards and another two were police who disappeared before the off.

The match was a final chance to get some game time and also to give the Boleyn a shake down before things get serious next week. It was a strong side that started, though any thoughts of trying to read anything into who started and who was on the bench evaporated once it dawned on me that the bench was largely made up of those who would be away this week on international duty.

For an old-fashioned chap like me it was also refreshing to see us line up 1-12 shirt number wise (no six, obviously). The starting line up: JJ, Demel, O'Brien, Tomkins, Reid, Noble, Morrison, Cole, Jarvis, Nolan, Maiga.

We took the lead on 16 seconds. The kick-off was played back to Tomkins who played it forward to Maiga. Cole won the ball on the edge of the box, shook off a defender and played in Morrison who, assisted by the 'keeper's reluctance to come off his line, slotted home in cool style.

As one might have expected the match was pretty quiet throughout. The Pacos no.7 Ribeiro looked to be their most useful player, curving one shot a shade over the bar and nearly getting in after Reid's slip, a slightly heavy touch allowing JJ to come out and smother. Rubeiro then blotted his copybook by picking up a yellow from ref Friend for a nasty little foot left in on Morrison.

At the other end Jarvis was looking interested when fed and after one of his crosses had forced a corner Pacos 'keeper Felipe was forced into a decent double save though ultimately the lino's flag would have chalked off any goal.

Cole was nect to burst down the right but could only shoot across the face of goal, there being nobody in the box for him to find with a cross. Cole was involved shortly after as both he and Maiga found themselves onside. However, Cole's pass to Maiga saw the striker forced wide and he put his shot wide. Should have been 2-0 that one.

The Ribero booking apart there had been little spice to the game thus far, though Nolan got flattened by a defender in the box, a challenge that left the skipper winded for a few minutes. Once he'd got his breath back Nolan was back in the referee's face on the matter.

We doubled the lead five before the break. Maiga started and finished, nicking the ball off a dallying defender and sending the 'keeper the wrong way when fed in on goal. And that was pretty much yer lot for the half.

Half Time: West Ham United 2 Pacos De Ferreira 0

Half time saw us watching Tomkins, O'Brien and Morrison warming down, whilst Collins, Rat and Diame warmed up. Those were the changes made during the interval.

Collins' first involvement was to give a rather unnecessary free-kick away for a spot of pointless manhandling out on the touchline. However the first proper bit of action of the half involved Diame.

Catching an opposition midfielder in possession on the half way line he looked up and, spotting Felipe off his line, attempted a chip that the laws of match reporting demand that I describe as "audacious". Felipe seemed to have the ball covered easily at first but the ball seemed to fade and dip late on and, in the end, was scrambling to turn the ball around the post for a corner.

A few minutes later Pacos pulled one back. Manuel Jose, wearing the Pacos coveted no.81 shirt, cut in from the left, JJ appeared to have had the effort covered but a deflection off James Collons' head gave the 'keeper no chance.

As one might have expected, multiple substitutions started to take their toll on the game as a spectacle. Adrian came on for JJ and Vaz Te Replaced Cole with 20 left. Nolan picked up a yellow for a late challenge which may have been in revenge for the one that left him flattened in the first half - it certainly had all the hallmarks of a challenge that the perpetrator had been waiting to deliver.

A Pacos player then picked up another yellow for a challenge on Nolan that had all the hallmarks of being in revenge for the Nolan challenge that had been made in revenge for the one that had left him flattened in the first half.

Nolan needed treatment and was replaced by Matt Taylor. This was probably a wise substitution on two counts - firstly, there's no sense risking further injury at this point of the season, and secondly, knowing him, he'd have gone out looking for revenge for the revenge for the revenge, if you see what I mean.

Taylor ought to have scored with his first touch, finding himself free in the box, only for him to shoot tamely at Felipe. That was pretty much it for the match which petered=out as most pre-season friendlies with zillions of substitutions tend to do.

So what did we learn? Well Morrison had a good first half and, though he may not start next week, it certainly looks as he will be an integral part of the first team squad this season. Rat looked as ok as one could do in this sort of match, though the post-match press conference was full of comments about him needing to adjust. Maybe a hint that O'Brien might start a few of the earlier games? Maybe not.

I'm not too convinced by the thought of using Maiga as a lone striker. He is potentially a decent player, in my opinion, but looks like the sort who would do better with someone alongside him.

In other news, the new kit makes Diame look even more of a man mountain than he did previously, and Taylor's done something different with his hair. Vaz Te didn't particularly impress and we could all do with some extra crossing practice

As for the opposition, well it's been a bit of a fairytale for them of late. As I left the press room after the match their players were walking around the ground taking photographs of every nook and cranny. Must be a bit of a change from their home ground which, allegedly, holds 5,000.

Amusing then to think that they're in the Champions League whilst, to take an example completely at random, Tottenham, aren't. I wonder if they've considered a bid for Gareth Bale?

Bring on Cardiff!

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Player Ratings

Jussi Jaaskelainen
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Guy Demel
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Joey O Brien
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Winston Reid
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James Tomkins
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Mark Noble
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Ravel Morrison
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Kevin Nolan
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Matt Jarvis
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Joe Cole
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Modibo Maiga
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James Collins
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Razvan Rat
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Mo Diame
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Ricardo Vaz Te
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Matt Taylor
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Jack Collison

Match Facts

West Ham United: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel, Joey O Brien, Winston Reid, James Tomkins, Mark Noble, Ravel Morrison, Kevin Nolan, Matt Jarvis, Joe Cole, Modibo Maiga.

Goals: Ravel Morrison 1 Modibo Maiga 40                .

Booked: None booked.           .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Pacos de Ferreira: António Filipe, Rúben, André Leão, Rui Miguel, Caetano, Grégory, Nuno Santos, Sérgio Oliveira, Hélder Lopes, Manuel José, Filipe Anunciação.

Subs not used: .

Goals: Manuel José (53).

Booked: None booked..

Sent off: None.

Referee: Kevin Friend.

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Ravel Morrison.