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West Ham United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0
Friday, 5th May 2017
Hands up who still has a grin on their face…
Ok I don't write as much of these as I should - evening games are a problem as press room duties keep me at the stadium so long that it's the early hours of the morning before I get home. Add to that the demands of the day job and fact that the "H-Factor" does an infinitely better job of things than I ever could hope to do and I'm sure you'll forgive the lack of lineage from these parts from time to time. However, sometimes one does have to make the effort even if one does have a three-figure temperature, tonsils the size of beach balls and a cough so loud the council are probably thinking of sending a bloke with a sound monitor over with an abatement order ready to serve.
So pre-match then and the news wasn't great. Carroll had been listed as a possible, terminology which I have come to interpret as "forget it". And so it proved. Nordtveit was considered unlucky not to continue in the central midfield berth as Slav elected to go horses for courses by reintroducing the skipper. Arthur's knock was serious enough to keep him out with Cresswell replacing him. With Carroll and Sakho out Calleri continued up front giving us a starting XI of Adrian, Reid, Collins, Fonte, Byram, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyate, Ayew, Lanzini, Calleri.
Well the first half was as even as can be. Lanzini found himself in good position on the left hand side of the box but, possibly having more time than he thought he pushed his shot wide of the far post.
The visitors lacke invention, guile, well almost everything really. They created little and when they did manage to move forward the defence was up to the job of dealing with them. Alli's shot on 20 minutes was blocked with a rebound falling to Kane whose effort was brilliantly, if slightly fortunately turned over the bad by Adrian's leg.
Whisper it but we were the more likely to score. Of course it always helps if you have a match official who has some passing relationship with reality. Unfortunately we had Anthony Taylor who after all these years still hasn't worked out the difference between a cardable offence and a tub of whelks. Lloris' assault on Lanzini could have been a red on two grounds - the slight touch on the ball the 'keeper got was an irrelevance to the reckless/dangerous nature of the "challenge" according to the laws of the game and the foul demonstrably satisfied all four criteria for denial of goalscoring opportunity. Taylor declined to even award the free-kick that was due which was sadly par for the course from a known substandard official. Had the offence occurred from an outfield player he would no doubt have done something so the double standard was even more galling.
Off the pitch there was much fun to be had at the expense of the visiting support's effort to get a chant going. They started to tell us that they had Dele Alli - a useful guide as he had managed to hide himself on the pitch - but the chant faded out before they could remember what it was they didn't understand. There was also an example of a double standard in the stands as a chant using the "Y" word broke out. Had the same chant been started two feet the other side of the hi-vis vests there would have been the usual hell to pay from certain sections of the fourth estate. The chant was quickly drowned out by boos though and that was pretty much all we heard from the away section for the rest of the game.
Half time: West Ham United 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0
It was similar stuff for the second half really. The one time in the whole of the match that they looked capable of cutting through us came just after the hour when a swift and incisive break found Son in the inside-right position angling a powerful shot across goal which was superbly turned around the post by Adrian.
If that effort gave the visitors cause for optimism, two minutes later that optimism disappeared in
smoke. Lanzini embarked on a run and fed Cresswell on the left. His first effort at a cross was blocked but the ball fell kindly enough for another go. Calleri tried to get something on it, Byram pushed it back into the mix, Ayew had a swing that partially connected whereupon Lanzini in the six-yard box finally dispensed with all the messing about and thumped it past Lloris.
Lanzini of course was booked for his celebration because a celebration is clearly more a problem for football than assaults from goalkeepers. Well at least it is in the strange little world of the strange little man that is Anthony Taylor.
Spurs produced nothing of note after that and we could have made it two or even three. Calleri - who ran his legs off all night - robbed a defender and got himself into a good spot but Lloris guessed right to make the save.
We left the subs late. Snodgrass replaced Ayew with 6 left. With 89 on the clock Calleri left to be replaced by Fletcher. Calleri's ovation was well deserved, as was that afforded to Lanzini when he was replaced by Fernandes in stoppage time. There was just time for Snodgrass and Fletcher to combine well to bring another save out of Lloris before the final whistle went, notthatthe Spurs fans would have known much about things at this point having long since departed, presumably annoyed that they had missed their weekly baths for that.
Full Time West Ham United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0
Many years ago when I was at school Irish jokes were all the rage. In Ireland it was the Kerryman who was the butt of all the "thick" gags and I never did find out who the poor Kerryman got to take the mick out of. In football it's Spurs fans who have the unenviable reputation of being somewhat less than sharp. With Spurs it's a reputation that appears to be increasingly well-deserved. Pre-match I overheard one of their own giving instructions to a fellow supporter down the phone on how to get to Stratford from Upton Park where his mate had gone, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we'd moved about a year ago.
Then there was the social media meltdown that occurred this weekend, admirably documented in the bumper "opposition view" elsewhere on this site. Apparently we "parked the bus" - no really! If that's the case as someone said a long while ago, we left the handbrake off, switched the engine on and drove the damn thing straight down Lloris' throat.
The reaction was quite hilarious and given how they celebrated finishing above Arsenal - just how muggy is getting a pre-printed professionally manufactured banner made celebrating the cancellation of St Totteringham's Day - amazingly short sighted. So much for the advantage of playing on Friday then!
So three points, thick supporters wound up and, most importantly, safe after a difficult season.
I've had worse Friday nights!
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Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
The defence seems much steadier with him behind them. Two magnificent saves and the moment he saved a corner and had a rest was pure Adrian gold.
Joined the attack well and didn't look too shabby in defence either.
Negated anything coming down his side and linked well with the attack. His cross caused the havoc that led to the goal.
Stuck to what he does best, and was all the better for it.
Continues to look much better as part of a three.
Superb. Absolutely superb.
This mattered to him - and it showed.
Immense. If he'd gotten his feet sorted out in the first half he might have had a goal for all his efforts. MOTM for me.
Lots of running. Kept at their midfield and defence. Caused a spot of confusion for the goal.
Superb. Not the prettiest of goals but that'll probably bother him about as little as it bothers the rest of us.
Got a lot of unjustified stick from some around me. Ran all over the place and was unlucky not to get the goal his efforts deserved. The ovation he got was heartening showing that his hard work had not gone unnoticed by the home support.
(Replaced Ayew) Combined well with Fletcher at the end.
(Replaced Calleri) Could, nay should have scored at the end.
(Replaced Lanzini) Brief cameo at the end - did well enough.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
West Ham United:
Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo, Sam Byram, Aaron Cresswell, James Collins, Jose Fonte, Winston Reid, Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate, Andre Ayew, Manuel Lanzini, Jonathan Calleri.
Manuel Lanzini 66 .
Mark Noble 16 Winston Reid 38 Manuel Lanzini 66 Sam Byram 71 .
None sent off. .
Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Wanyama, Dier, Eriksen, Alli, Son, Kane.
Subs not used:
Vorm, N’Koudou, Sissoko, Wimmer.
Walker (12), Tripper (90+4).
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