Monday, 23 April 2012

Leicester 1 West Ham 2 - Nolan Spoils Otherwise Perfect Night

I've criticised the guy enough, so it is only fair I pay credit when it is due. Allardyce set up 4-5-1 but with a wonderfully fluid personnel which, at times, made us look like a Championship version of Barcelona. Kidding. But you know what I mean. Total football it wasn't but totally crap football it wasn't either, and had Nolan not missed two sitters, we would have been right on Southampton's shoulder in terms of goal difference.

The second Nolan miss was a disgrace because he had Lansbury ten feet away with an open goal yawning had Captain Kev slipped in the pass - the chance was so easy that even Faubert would have buried it! The first was a little more difficult because Nolan chose to take it early, but in truth he had time to control it, advance and bury it, or even slip in Vaz Te.

But let's not quibble, Nolan and Faubert apart, after he came on, we were pretty damn excellent tonight and played Leicester off the park. Our first goal was superb. Noble showed his class, holding the ball, beating his man with his eyes and slipping in Taylor with a perfectly weighted pass. Taylor's run was clever and his cross delightful - Reid couldn't miss from two yards out.

That pass from Noble summed him up for me. He still has his critics, incredibly, but the guy is the hub of the team. Those who don't like him leap upon every time he loses possession, but he sees so much of the ball, it is inevitable he will be caught at times as he looks to set up play, often from very unpromising positions. First half he sent through a delectable ball for Cole, only for the "England man" to show all the conviction of a Blairite at an international socialist conference. Time and again it was Noble who was making little angles to help team mates out of tight corners and Noble who probed with telling passes. His shot at the beginning of the second half only bent narrowly wide of the post and, over the 90 minutes, he must have seen more of the ball and covered more of the pitch than any other player on either side. Top notch in my book.

But Noble was not alone in excelling tonight. O'Neil impressed me again, and slipped through two or three delightful passes of his own, whilst Vaz Te's movement presented problems to Leicester's defence all night. Tomkins and Reid were strong at the back (apart from losing Beckford for the Leicester goal) and as a unit we played remarkably well - albeit against a Leicester team who, Dyer and Morgan apart, looked short on commitment and class.

Collison's goal was a joy. Hopefully that will boost his confidence and will reignite a career that has faltered this season. His misses apart, Nolan was good. The shot in the first half that, like Noble's effort, only bent narrowly wide screamed quality. Taylor was at fault for Leicester's goal, but made amends by setting up the first and had a decent game, as did Demel. Cole held the ball well on occasions but sadly looked low on confidence when presented with opportunities to hurt the Leicester defence. He should never have allowed Morgan to get in the tackle that robbed the Noble pass of the finish it deserved, and a second half shot was tame with a capital T.

Green? What did he have to do? Should he have tried to punch the cross that Beckford scored from? Maybe but Tomkins lost his man and Demel made no attempt to close as the cross came in. Mind you, the worst defending all night was Faubert's in his all too long 12 minutes on the pitch. What the hell did he think he was doing heading a deep cross back into his own box when it was easier to put it out for a corner? Thank God the chance was missed!

So it's now all down to Coventry and Southampton's nerves. We could do with Lambert and Lallana turning ankles in training this week and have to hope that the game pans out like the Liverpool v West Brom match yesterday. It's still a long shot, but we may just do it yet!

Tonight it's well done Sam time!

Player ratings: Green 6: Demel 6, Tomkins 7, Reid 7, Taylor 6: O'Neil 7, Noble 8, Nolan 6, Collison 7, Vaz Te 7, Cole 6  Subs: Faubert 1, Collins 5, Lansbury (could have been 10 had Nolan passsed to him!)


Anonymous said...

The best we can expect from Coventry is a draw, so those Nolan misses could cost us. Let us pray Southampton feel the pressure and we smash Hull.COYI

Deane said...

I think Nolan did the right thing (apart from the fact that he missed) I reckon Lansbury would have been flagged offside and 'well done Sam' the same Sam that when we took the lead let Leicester off the hook and decided to defend the one goal advantage The man is an idiot how many draws have we snatched from the jaws of victory because of stupidity of this magnitude

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Anony-mouse says,

For what it's worth I agree with much of what you say. Noble does have some limitations due to a lack of pace but even so he was excellent tonight. Nolan's misses were uncharacteristic for him, but even so he had a good game. In the same way that Vaz Te has galvanised us in the final third, the unsung O'Neill has done the same the the central third- his work-rate and keeping-things-ticking-over style has been a feature of the last few weeks.

HF for once I don't mean this as a pop at you- I genuinely just want to make a wider point. Before the game you said that if Allardyce set up 4 5 1 and we drew one all he should be sacked on the spot. As it panned out that may well have been the score had it not been for Collison's screamer, in which case presumably your thread tonight would have been different. Like many others you wanted 4 4 2. But tonight again proved that 4 5 1 works for us away from home. We could and should have had three or four tonight. Leicester are a threat coming forward. They are the team that have scored more goals than any other from outside the box. A five man midfield can negate that whilst remaining fluid (as you rightly described it) enough to cause a team problems at the other end. We have mostly played 4 5 1 away from home this season and this was our 13th win on the road- our previous best ever figure was 11. Allardyce's system works.

Despite last night's result most of us are realistic enough to know that automatic promotion is still an outside bet. But at least we are giving Saints cause for concern, building pressure on them, building our own form and sending out markers to teams like Brum (who play in a very similar style to Leicester) that we are not going to be anybody's cannon fodder in the play-offs if that is what it is to be.

Anonymous said...

Saintjeff - Why on earth am I so nervous about Saturday ? 1. We could have our game live on the telly.Certain defeat then !! 2. Teams now know how to play us. Just attack constantly, getting as many crosses in as possible. Ian Holloway showed how to do it. 3. Coventry have absolutely nothing to lose by treating game as a must win Cup Final, and have a right go.
A more positive note is that Barmby will not want his team to roll over like Poyets Brighton. You surely have the more difficult game. You will probably stil win, but hopefully by only the odd goal. A full house at St Mary's should roar us home.
What a way to end the season. We should have wrapped up promotion, and even the championship long ago !

Rich said...

what happens if we win 3-0 and saints draw 1-1, points goal difference and goals scored will be the same!!!!!

Anonymous said...


I think it comes down to head-to-head meetings this year, meaning the saints go up

Hammersfan said...

Thing is Anony-mouse, Allardyc's system hasn't worked. We are in third place, relying on Coventry City! When we were in the top two, you kept telling me that the table doesn't lie and that Allardyce was being proved right; now suddenly third place is success. It isn't, third place is failure. Look at how we have surrendered our advantage over the last three months!

Anonymous said...

Anony-mouse says,

I kept telling you the table doesn't lie? Now you're either mistaken or just plain lying. Im happy to give you the benefit of the doubt on those two options but it would be nice if you told me which option is the right one HF. Show me one post, just one post where I said that and i'll have that slice of humble pie that you weren't man enough to eat after Scotty made the PFA team the other day.

This'll be another one of those times where I don't hear from you again on this one (unless it's more waffling, deflective bluster) cos you'll find nothing of the sort from me.

Hammersfan said...

You may be right anonymouse, it may be all the other anonymice I was thinking of. If so I apologise. When I have time, I'll check! If I find one, you can apologise back!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anony-mouse says,

And if you find anything i'll be more than grateful to apologise. Promise. :)

HF- my main reason for replying to this now is re:John Lyall. This isn't point scoring I promise- that's why I've posted it on a dead thread where I doubt anyone else would see it.

I just thought you'd be interested in a wonderful photo on page 500 0f KUMB's equally wonderful 'good old day's thread'. Have a look at it. It's after the 81 final and shows a clearly surprised Ray Stewart and Psycho calming down a clearly grumpy Lyall with a sheepish Clive Thomas keeping out of the great man's way. Truly wonderful (and I know i've used that word three times now but I don't care).

ps- Just seen your most recent thread- I won't join the 'debate'. Man, you'll chuck any poo that you can in that man's direction. I've got to admire your tenaicity, if nothing else :)

Hammersfan said...

LOL re the poo at Allardyce.

I seem to remember the Lyall picture actually. I thin it may be in the Lyall autobiography in my loft. But thanks for the tip off.