Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Epic, Brilliant, Fantastic, Unforgetable - West Ham 2 Aston Villa 1
After the humiliating surrender on Saturday comes the epic last gasp victory on Wednesday, life is never boring as a West Ham fan - unless Curbishley is in charge of course! Why was Curbishley sacked? This is why! Because as Hammers fans we expect to be entertained, not to settle nicely into 10th place and stay there for two whole seasons by playing lump it and see football!
What a game! Ok, Villa were by far the better team in the first forty five minutes but after that disastrous first seven minutes of the second half, we showed that we can play football for the remainder of the game. And that winning goal, it was sublime! The speed of Hines' feet as he moved the ball from right, to left, to right again, before placing it wide of Friedal, and beautifully into the corner of the net, was sheer magic. I love this kid. I love his attitude, his head down and chase and have a crack at a squeak of a chance approach. He is electric quick, not only in speed across the ground but in thought to. His attempt to beat Friedal at the near post, when he was given no options for a pass in the box, was audacious and clever, displaying all the instincts of a true goal scoring predator. We may just have a cross between the young Michael Owen and Jermaine Defoe on our hands here!
(I know, calm down, calm down, but sod it, Hines should be on the plane to South Africa! ; })
Thank God the referee held back that red card until late in the game! For my money, the Villa defender (I can't remember his name, who cares?) should have gone for the foul on Hines which resulted in the penalty. He was the last defender, Hines was in on goal, and the referee deemed it a foul on the edge of the six yard box. How in God's name can he justify not sending the bloke off therefore? But had he done so, we know what would have happened! Just look at the Fulham and Sunderland games! I reckon that's what the Villa boys were complaining about at half time, "You should have sent him off, they can't play against 10 men!" You could almost see the relief on Zola's face when a yellow card came out instead of a red. In fact, that's the only way I can explain the decision to send on Jimenez for Franco with four minutes to go. Zola turned to Clarke and said, "10 men Steve, we're in trouble, where's Kovac when you need him to protect a point?"
But back to that penalty...First off, that was the worst refereeing decision I have EVER seen in my life. Clearly O'Neill had said his piece at half time and the referee went out second half determined to "even things up". Da Costa achieved an incredible spring, met the ball cleanly and then toppled over Ginge's head! I have never seen a player leap so high without using the leverage of another player and that must have been what the ref thought, apart from the fact that he needed to even up the score for what O'Neill was calling an earlier error!
Now to the save: I am a huge critic of Green when it comes to crosses into our box but the guy is one hell of a shot stopper. The save from the Petrov shot first half was blinding but the penalty save, well it was in a different class! There were echoes here (for those of us old enough to remember) of the Banks save from Pele. The amazing thing about the Banks save and this one from Green was the strength of the hand and wrist in pushing up and away a shot that was on its way down as the keeper's hand made contact. It truly was brilliant, one of the saves of the season without question. Green really earned his corn tonight and finished as a hero.
Villa, to their credit, really came to win the game. Heskey, Carew, Young, Ivebonkedawhore and Sidwell all in the same side for an away fixture - I was wondering if Ardiles had taken charge with nobody telling me! First half, we couldn't handle them in midfield and the loss of Cole and Ilunga to injuries was so reminiscent of the double injury blow we suffered early against Liverpool. As with the loss of Behrami and Upson in that game, these were two key players, not two makeweights! Now we were reduced to both Faubert and Spector on the field together - it's like being told, "I have some bad news, you have Aids. Oh and whilst we are about it, you have terminal cancer into the bargain!"
To be fair, the defence second half coped well. It wasn't a penalty, and Young's goal (memories of Giggs' goal at Upton Park last season?)was truly brilliant. Yes Villa had a few other chances, but none absolutely clear cut, and when they shot on target, Green was at his very best. I like Da Costa too. I thought he did ok against Man City and, one terrible misplaced pass and a dreadful sliced clearance apart tonight, he was solid, composed and up to the task, although faced with an array of attacking talent. Congratulations to Zola and Clarke for going with him, I must confess that I had forgotten he was even an option!
Offensively, we were impressive. I was suprised how high Collison and Behrami were playing, and some of Collison's link up play was very impressive. Capello must have been thinking, "Why did he opt for Wales?" Noble was much better second half but I felt was struggling to get a foot in the game during the first forty five. Give the lad his due though. Lesser men would have hidden when we won the penalty but not Noble. He stepped up and belted it, Geoff Hurst style, just beneath the crossbar. Friedal had done his homework and went to his left, which is where Noble has had them saved in the past, but to no avail. Franco, I thought, did well and I have already eulogised about Hines.
But our Man of the Match for me, without question, despite those brilliant saves by Green, was Scott Parker. He was everywhere tonight, covering every blade of grass in true Colin Bell style. It was wonderfully appropriate that his driving run and pass set up the winning goal. Mind you, I felt he was lucky to stay on the pitch. How was he not booked for that foul on Young on the edge of the box towards the end of the first half? He warranted two yellows tonight in my book and can count himself as lucky tonight as he was unlucky against Arsenal. How many bookings is it now? He is going to miss a lot of games this season through suspension but he should still be our captain without question. He is now the heartbeat of the team; had he been playing instead of Kovac on Saturday we would have won that game too.
It was a wonderful, wonderful victory tonight and should kick start our season. But, of course, we are West Ham and so God knows what will happen when we take the field against Everton. The injuries to Cole and Ilunga are certainly a worry!
But let's not dwell on any negatives! I am in Heaven for the moment and this is a game that will live forever in the memory. In years to come, maybe we will remember it as the night the free scoring Zavon Hines notched his first of many in the Premiership!
Ratings: Green 9, Faubert 6, Da Costa 7, Upson 7, Spector 6, Behrami 6, Noble 6, Parker 10, Collison 8, Franco 7, Hines 8 (Replaced Cole 7, Ilunga not on long enough to rate) (Sub Jimenez - what a dreadful corner and hairstyle!)
Posted by Hammersfan at 21:47