Well that was too close for comfort. Second from top against second from bottom, it should have been much easier than we made it, but three points are three points and victories for Southampton and Leeds apart, other results have gone our way. There's a healthy buffer now between ourselves and seventh placed Blackpool, although the gap will close a bit after the Leicester v Palace game where a draw would be the ideal result for us.
Will Allardyce learn anything from this game? After the Hull City game, you would have expected Cole to start ahead of Carew; but instead Doctor Evil persisted with the lumbering Norwegian. A goal down and in desperate need of a saviour, Carew might have the right initials for the job but Jesus, he looked off the pace or disinterested. Cometh the second half and, just as at Hull, cometh the man, with the England international replacing the Norwegian international, and suddenly the whole team's performance transforming! Were you watching Margaret Thatcher? Were you watching Winston Churchill? Were you watching Sam Allardyce? Our boy Cole gave the Norwegian one hell of a beating! Just like at Hull!
First half, we were pretty damn clueless. Yet again, there was no creative spark in the team, and once again the midfield were misfiring or bypassed. No surprise then that when the equaliser came, it was yet again straight out of the Doctor Evil Textbook of Route One Football. Green to Cole, deflection, goal! And goal number two isn't going to feature in Goal of the Season either is it? Faubert cross, Piquionne gets something on it - knee? shin? cock? - and it ends up nestled in the net - a real fly tip of a goal!
Collison missed a good chance and Nolan was a shadow of his Newcastle self yet again. It's three more points in the bank and nine from the last three away games, but there was nothing convincing about our performance yet again. I'm not complaining about grinding out results - that is a rare joy for a West Ham fan as we all know - but this remains a team struggling for shape, poise and a sense of self belief and conviction.
Dear God, it took us until the 55th minute to win our first corner against the team second from bottom in the table! Poor Baldock, Allardyce may be starting him but he is not being used from the start on the shoulder of the big striker, instead he is tracking opponents rather than asking them questions. So, why do we have to wait for 45 minutes before we go onto the front foot? It makes no sense to me.
Another big home game is on the horizon. Will Taylor be fit to return? Will Cole start? Will Faubert move up into midfield, with O'Brien returning at right back? Will we start in a proper 4-4-2? There's still more questions than answers. But for all that, we remain in second place!