Saturday, 2 May 2009
Stoke 0 West Ham 1 - A Thoroughly Professional Job Well Done
We are making a habit of this, rolling up our sleeves, standing tall and grinding out results away from Upton Park. Yet again we couldn't manage more than one goal, yet again we couldn't score from open play, but yet again, you have to marvel at the determination and resilience of the team, and smile at the quality of some of the passing.
To begin, what a goal! I take it all back, give Diego Tristan a contract, who needs to run when you can strike a ball as cleanly as that? Anybody remember a better free kick from a West Ham player? Solano hit a beauty; against Derby wasn't it? And Dicks and Stewart could smash a dead ball into the back of the net, but Tristan's finish exuded class. A fantastic finish which made you wish we had signed this guy five years ago!
The other real successes were Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga and Kovac. How many throw-ins did Stoke win? Surely they were going to score from one as Delap hurled in the mortars and the cavalry charged. But the back line held firm, time and again clearing the ball as if they hadn't heard that this was Stoke's "secret weapon". Here it comes again lads, head it clear! Clarke must have been drilling them all week! True, we needed a great block by Stanislas and a clearance off the line from Noble, but the Law of Averages dictated that a Stoke player would get his head on the ball eventually. In the circumstances, Stoke had surprisingly few chances, even with Green looking a little twitchy at times (although how brave was he when he went down at the foot of Fuller?).
If I wanted to be critical, I would point to the number of times we needlessly conceded throw-ins, as if, literally, we had not heard of Stoke's long throw tactic, but I suppose Stoke play for them as a form of second phase ball. Some of the triangular passes we played, on the other hand, were an absolute joy to behold and, on occasions, it was like the Liverpool team of the 80s playing in their pomp - to me, to you, to him, back to me, to him, to me, to you, back to him. Sadly we didn't pass our way into the box too often but you can't have everything, particularly with so many first choice players unavailable.
No Dyer today? What happened to him? Injured getting off the bus perhaps?
Some might say, "It was only Stoke" but they would be wrong. Stoke have only lost 4 times at home this season, having turned the Britannia into something of a fortress. Our performance today was highly professional and very un West Ham like. We traditionally roll over and die in games like these so the victory, the performance and the clean sheet mark still further progress. Well done to the boys and to Matty Etherington for having money on a Stoke victory! You lose some and you lose some more Matty!
Ratings: Green 6; Neill 9 (I thought he was immense today!); Tomkins 8; Upson 7 (Yes I thought Tomkins outshone his more senior partner today); Ilunga 7; Boa 6; Noble 7; Kovac 8, Stanislas 6; Di Mihele 7, Tristan 7.
Posted by Hammersfan at 17:00