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West Ham United 3 AFC Bournemouth 4
Saturday, 22nd August 2015
How do you explain a defensive performance that bad?
I'm older than I look you know. I mean it's hard to believe that this fresh-faced youngster attended his first match at the Boleyn 48 years ago. But in all those 48 years I'm struggling to remember a pair of individual performances as bad as we saw in this one.
Team news was that Oxford had a slight knock and wasn't included in the squad. Zarate's hamstring gave out during the week. The corrupt backing of so-called referee Taylor by his best mates on the "independent" review panel saw us denied the services of Adrian for the first of three games giving Randolph his first start leaving us with a starting line-up of Randolph, Jenkinson, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Reid, Noble, Kouyate, Payet, Obiang, Nolan, Sakho.
Well we started brightly and had a goal early on chalked off for a push by Reid as he put the header away. A correct decision but I'd have been slightly more impressed with the referee had he been slightly more honest in his application of the laws at subsequent corners which saw Reid manhandled all over the place.
The visitors took the lead on 11 minutes. I say "took" they were more given it. Cresswell had any number of options as a ball ran down to the goal line. Unfortunately he meekly surrendered possession to Francis whose cross was buried by Wilson.
Neither full back was performing to anywhere near a adequate standard and Jenkinson in particular was looking more like a competition winner than a professional footballer, struggling to control the ball and getting caught in possession time and time again.
However it was his colleague on the left who messed-up big time to give Bournemouth a 2-0 lead. There seemed little danger as we passed our way out from a corner. Until the ball got to Cresswell who cushioned the ball back straight into the path of Wilson who made no mistake with the marvellous pass give him.
With 23 minutes gone we had a drinks break. Now I have no problem with players taking on fluids in heat like that - it must have been in the 90s pitch side and in that sort of heat water becomes a necessity rather than an optional extra.
However, I hope we don't go down the road of having these breaks hard-wired into the game irrespective of the conditions. I realise that this might prove popular with the TV and ad companies (and presumably Ray Winstone's bank manager) but I still shudder at the fact that my last few visits to Lord's have been punctuated by "Rehydration Intervals Sponsored By Yorkshire Tea". Ugh.
If Ogbonna had not taken on enough in the way of H2O during the interval he was given the opportunity to drink as much as he wanted ten minutes later when he was taken off and replaced by Tomkins.
Given that our problems seemed to be resulting from the simultaneous collapse in form of our two previously reliable full backs, it seemed strange to make changes in the middle. I suppose it could be argued that the change gave us a back four who had played together a lot but when two of that four are looking like they'd never played the game before it's not much of a benefit really.
It could have been much, much worse before the interval. Wilson did well again down the right and might have been better served by taking it on himself. Instead he squared it to Gradel whose shot was marvellously turned away by Randolph when t seemed like we would go in 3-0 down.
Half Time: West Ham United 0-2 AFC Bournemouth
We needed a change if we were to get anything out of the game and we got one during the interval. Nolan was replaced by Jarvis in an attempt to give some much-needed width.
A good start to the second period was vital - and we got one. Bournemouth failed to clear a corner and Noble, in trying to create a bit of space for himself in the box, got clipped by King to give us our annual spot-kick, which was duly dispatched by Noble himself.
Five minutes later we were back on level terms. Sakho made some space for himself in the box and placed a low hard shot across Boruc who saved well only to see Kouyate on hand to bury the rebound high into the net.
So, with Bournemouth looking shaky and being there for the taking did we a) go all out to press home our advantage or b) sit back like we'd done all the work required for the day and let the back into it. Yup you guessed it....
It wasn't like we didn't get a warning. Gradel laid the ball off to Pugh whose shot brought an excellent save out of Randolph to keep the scores level. The respite was short-lived though.
Gradel broke away again and fed Pugh once more. Jenkinson came rushing in and committed himself horribly. Older readers might recall Billy Wright similarly diving in against Puskas in the 1950's, a challenge likened at the time to a fire-engine speeding towards the wrong blaze. Jenkinson's effort was like that and, though Pugh is no Puskas, his dragback was enough to give him the time ad space to curl a shot past Randolph and put Bournemouth back into the lead.
With 20 minutes left we had another drinks break and whatever they had been spiking Jenkinson's isotonic pick-me-up type stuff with, they topped it up. After Much-Maligned-Maiga had replaced Sakho, with us pushing forwards Bournemouth played a long clearance deep into our half. Jenkinson had a week and a half's start on Gradel but was far too casual and allowed the winger to charge the ball down.
Gradel bore down on goal and Jenkinson gave him a slight tug, a tug which Gradel made the theatrical most of (playing in Liverpool last week clearly gave him a few pointers). Ref Moss pointed to the spot and, although two of the four criteria required for dismissal were marginal out came the red card for denial of goalscoring opportunity. It could easily have been red for stupidity to be honest. Randolph came close to keeping out the penalty but not close enough as Wilson completed his hat-trick.
There was time for things to get a bit daft. Maiga picked up the ball in the inside left channel and weaved his way through a non-existent defence to the edge of the box where he watched Boruc commit himself one way before calmly rolling the ball into the net into the gap vacated by the 'keeper.
Six minutes of time were added on, largely as the result of the drinks interval but for the most part Bournemouth made the most of the extra man. We had chances at the death though. Cresswell was finally awarded a free-kick on the left after a defender had had three goes at fouling him. Payet's delivery was cleared for a corner.
The corner was somehow kept out at the near post by Boruc, though one might enquire why a defender's wrestling hold on Kouyate wasn't punished by ref Moss - who had clearly made some unilateral decision for the day that wrestling by defenders was legal for the weekend. No matter, had he given the spot-kick the challenge deserved it would merely have served to have given us a point we scarcely deserved. Moss managed to find the final whistle without the aid of an instruction book and that was that.
Full Time West Ham United 3-4 AFC Bournemouth
Well it is to be hoped that this result acts as a wake-up call. Whist there were extenuating circumstances in the Leicester match where the result had as much to do with the whims of a sub-standard match official, this result was purely self-inflicted. Having said that I did hear a number of frankly insane calls for the manager's head, some of which came from people who thought we were wrong to dispense with the services of a manager with 3 wins in his last 20 games. I guess the question is do we prefer a team that forgets how to play from time to time or one that is told not to?
At least the current manager came out and apologised - and I can't remember that happening much in the past few years.
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Like many I wasnít over-impressed with his pre-season but he had a fine game and is probably the only player able to emerge with any credit from this match. I have no idea whether any players ever read this, but if youíre an outfield player you may wish to skip the followingÖ..
The last time I saw a full-back have a day this bad I was playing against him and I profited greatly from the fact that his hangover was worse than mine. Letís hope that itís out of his system as well Ė heíll have some time off to recuperate thanks to the red card.
How can somebody usually so good have such a poor game? One of the poorest individual performances Iíve seen in years. Letís hope that itís out of his system.
Was having a hard enough match without having to cover for his full-backs.
Slightly unfortunate to have been taken ashore with little more than half an hour played.
Battled gamely, took the goal well but also suffered from the general passing malaise.
Took the penalty well and tried in vain to get things moving.
Against Leicester he did well picking up the ball in front of the defence and moving things on. This week it was difficult to see where he was supposed to be playing or what his role was.
Only looked dangerous from dead balls.
Didnít have a terrible game as such Ė lots of chasing down in the first half Ė but played far too far away from Sakho to be of much use.
Always more effective when employed with assistance up front. Unlucky not to score in the move that saw Kouyate net the leveller.
(Replaced Ogbonna) His introduction didnít improve things any defensively.
(Replaced Nolan) Added a bit of much needed width in the second half but spent ages being starved of service.
(Replaced Sakho) Fine goal gave us a glimpse of his potential. I suppose it would be too much to hope for him to keep repeating the exercise at regular intervals.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
West Ham United:
Darren Randolph, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang, Dimitri Payet, Kevin Nolan, Diafra Sakho.
Mark Noble 48 Cheikhou Kouyate 53 Modibo Maiga 82 .
Carl Jenkinson 80 .
Subs not used:
Artur Boruc (75).
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