Thursday, 3 May 2012

Cardiff 0 West Ham 2 - Savaged by a dead sheep!

Years back Denis Healey compared an attack from Maggie Thatcher favourite Geoffrey Howe to being savaged by a dead sheep, and the first minute and a half apart, that pretty much sums up tonight's game. We were ok but we didn't need to be any better than ok, because Cardiff were absolutely bloody awful. They couldn't pass, they couldn't tackle, they couldn't shoot, and they could barely run. Winning the game was as easy as having sex with a drugged ewe as they say in the Valleys!

Tomkins was excellent. Reid was good. Noble was calmness personified. Vaz Te set up the first goal excellently and covered back surprisingly well. Taylor was fine. Collison scored twice, was caught offside four times and was generally ordinary. Demel was ok. Cole was dozy but very nearly scored at the end of the first half. O'Neil was neat and tidy. And Nolan missed a sitter but otherwise played his part. Only Green was poor but he had so little to do, that didn't really matter.

Collison took his first goal well, getting on the end of a superb Vaz Te pass and following up with determination when Marshall made a good save. And I think his second was heading for the top corner before the deflection took it in the opposite direction but into the goal regardless. Cole forced an excellent save from Marshall with a lovely header and Nolan headed wide inside the six yard box when it was easier to score.

The most impressive aspect of our game was the way we closed and harried and the way we retained possession. The Noble knockers should watch the tape back and note just how well he controlled the game. He was again available to receive the ball all over the pitch and took the sting out of the contest with calm, sensible, mature passing to team mates. Where Parker was all hustle and bustle in the role, invariably losing possession and throwing himself into a challenge to make amends, Noble simply keeps the ball. He and Tomkins were again the stand out players for me.

So, half time it is so far so good. It is hard to imagine Cardiff can play that badly in the second leg but if we can't progress from this platform then we really must be crap - and we're not! Credit to Allardyce, the tactics were spot on and our football was not hoof ball by any stretch of the imagination. All in all, it was a professional, calm and slick performance, typified by our superb ball retention during the added five minutes. Cardiff weren't allowed a sniff!

Player ratings: Green 3 (Good save in the first minute but made a cash of one punch, dropped an easy catch and was rooted in no man's land when Cole cleared off the line); Demel 6, Tomkins 9, Reid 7, Taylor 6; Noble 8, O'Neil 7, Vaz Te 6, Collison 6, Nolan 6; Cole 6 Subs McCartney 6, Faubert 5, Maynard (Not on long enough to rate)


Anonymous said...

Anony-mouse says,

Not for the first time recently I agree with a lot of what you say HF. Professional and calm are indeed the words to describe it.

Cardiff were poor but it's worth noting that they hadn't lost since our last two nil win there weeks back They are a decent side but we have twice now made them look poor with our pressing game and constant harrying of them.

Of your player assessments I think Collison tailed off in the second half after a terrific first half, even without the goals. I didn't see Cole as dozy at all HF. For me he vied with the imperious Tomkins for man of the match. He was superb as the lone forward. His touch was generally excellent, his hold up play first rate and his harrying of defenders was constant. meaning that he came away with the ball on more than one occasion when he had no right to. Absolutely immense.

ps- wasn't it Dennis Healey who said that of Geoffrey Howe?

Sav said...

Tomkins was by far our best player. He has come a long way from a few years ago.

Noble was ordinary, very slow and lazy and lost possession a few times at dangerous places. His usual self really. But people see what they want to see!

Hammersfan said...

Do you know it might have been! But mentioning Healey wouldn't upset the Welsh anywhere near as much as quoting Thatcher!

I honestly thought Cole looked slow and laboured. Twice he was given the opportunity to outstrip the Cardiff backline and both times he looked like he was running through treacle. Don't think he was 100% fit.

Hopefully Vaz Te isn't injured. His early withdrawal was a surprise.

Hammersfan said...

Once Sav, once. I watched very carefully. I'd love to see the stats for the ground he covered, his pass completion rate and his interception and tackle completion rate. His booking was absurd! The Cardiff player kicked him! I really do think you need to give up your vendetta and admit you are wrong! Whittingham is supposed to be one of the best players in the Championship and Noble had him in his pocket all game whilst controlling our play when we had the ball.

Elf 72 said...

Cole running through treacle. Know what you mean, just doesn't seem to have the legs anymore, but . . I thought his presence and positioning was excellent. He is very skillful for a man his size and always looked dangerous, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Anony-mouse says,

Sav alludes to it- it is funny what different people see on the pitch. I agree that Cole may mot be 100% it, and whilst I have seen him run through treacle before I didn't see it tonight. By the same token Sav, whilst I've commented before about Noble giving the ball away unnecessarily I didn't see that tonight. And honestly mate, whatever his faults are, I don't think the word lazy can be levelled at him. He had a good 7 out of 10 game tonight for me.

I think RVT took a knock with that incident in their penalty box early on- I only saw it once on my feed but I thought it looked like a penalty. Like I say I only saw it the once though. It goes without saying that we need him fit. His signing has been the one that has changed us from a well organised but predictable team into one that asks real questions of other teams.

Great result tonight HF and one thing that that evil witch definitely did say is appropriate for tonight - "Rejoice, rejoice". Still got work to do but it'll take a lot for us to be denied a long overdue trip to Wembley. COYI!

Stani said...

Cole a 5? What game were you watching HF? His excellent skill to lay off to Taylor to produce a brilliant cross which Nolan somehow contrived to miss, and control and bringing down of the ball near the end when it was lobbed up to him, just those two bits of play deserve more on their own.

Agree with Sav on Noble. Trying to make passes that are simply not there and losing possession (very frustrating) and crossing too long or too short.

Astonished we did no concede as Cardiff had clear chances despite being awful. Not over by any means.

Hammersfan said...

Of course you agree with Sav, Stani, when don't you on the subject of Noble? Talk about a stuck record!

I agree that Cole displayed great skill in the two moments you describe, and he also nearly scored and cleared the ball off the line, but he still looked slow, laboured and unfit to me. Maybe I should have given him 6. I will adjust!

Anony-mouse, it would have been an extremely harsh penalty. There was contact but had it been given against us, we would have been furious!

Stani said...

Come on HF, you clearly give Noble bonus points for some reason. I know why Iain does it, but you? You scored him two higher than the guy that grabbed two goals! Goals are important to games, HF! They deserve recognition.

Anonymous said...

Anony-mouse says,

Fair do's HF. Like I say I only saw it the once but it looked to me like the guy's arm went across RVT.

Up Cole to an 8 HF and that'll be good enough for me :)

Hammersfan said...

I recognise him, without the goals I would have rated Collison 4. Did you see how often he mistimed forward runs and was caught offside and did you see that drilled pass that went for a goal kick in the first half? He hit it harder than the shot for his second goal! I rate honestly Stani. When Noble is crap, I call him crap, when he plays well, I acknowledge it. You just want him to be crap.

Anonymous said...

Does no-one else agree Demel was fantastic? Maybe it was just me but he was calm and collected when pressured, only hoofed when necessary (unlike O'Brien who hoofs everytime, no matter what) and was strong in the tackle!

Slap said...

Analyse as much as you want, at the end of the day all 11 stood up to the plate when it counted and played for the shirt! well done lads!!

I, for one, am confident going into a home game for a change. Cardiff now have to open up and attack us at UP.

Bring it on!

Anonymous said...

Cul de Sac says...

I too thought Demel was at times simply excellent. As the match was progressing, he seemed to get more and more into it. Excellent moves, good ball control, physical presence. Ahhhh, if only he would have been fit all season...

I also thought Cole was great in his retention/contentio role, holding on until reinforcements arrived from behind. Tomkins was immense, and Reid very sober. Noble was excellent, and Nolan seems to be in ascending form. I have a great admiration for O'Neill since he was completely destroyed by Reo Coker last year. what that player has accomplished, agaisnt all odds and the doctors' opinons, deserves an oscar. I got scared though when Faubert came on. Does anybody know why O'Brien has disappeared from the lists, just like Bouba Diop ?

Collison is the player that looks like he has enormous potential but just cannot take off, for wahtever reason.

I did not like Green. He has moments of absences and has been like this for weeks now,Remember against Reading, when he stood like statue on Reading's first goal ? Remember last week's jump against Hull, with a jump that even my grandmother would have done better thn hin (in his small box).

One last word about refs. You don't eem to have many good refs in England... Today's ignored a a penalty and was extremely quick at the time of pulling vards for WHU players, yet not so much for the Brighton ones. Plus, where on earth did they get 5 minutes on added time at the end of the match ? did they need/want Brighton to krrp chance...

tobw said...

Cardiff fan here to say that I used that "Savaged by a dead sheep line" about us in my blog after we drew with Millwall just over a month ago!

Also, I must say that I think some of those marks for your players are very harsh. If that was Carlton Cole being "dozy", then I'm glad we didn't see him when he was at his best because I thought that was the best target man performance I've seen against Cardiff this season - I also agree that Demel was very good.

Us Cardiff fans talked ourselves into ways we could beat you, but, deep down, I think we knew that if you were anywhere near your best, you'd be too good for us and I thought you were for most of the first half especially.

We've been a tired side for about three months and we certainly looked it last night - if we could have "won" the second half to go into Monday's match with a one goal deficit, I would have said we still had a chance, but I reckon the tie is over now.

One bit of hope I'll cling to is that back in 1996 Sam Allardyce's Bloackpool team won the first leg of their Division Three (showing my age there!) Play Off Semi Final 2-0 only to by beaten 3-0 at Bloomfield Road in the return, but I honestly can't see lightning striking twice.

Hammersfan said...

Sorry to have stolen your line tobw, hadn't read your blog, honest.

Cole debate is interesting to say the least!

ianthehammer said...

HF your miles off. Yet again we were only winners because of how poor the opposition were. We need to realise that the reason they were poor is all because of whu. How can every team we play be poor against us. No no no. We.make the opposition look poor. Just think, BFS will het whu to wembly and we might even win. I, for one, will be forever thankful to him if i get to see that live. COYI!

Hammersfan said...

I didn't say that actually Ian. I said that we didn't need to be good to beat them because they were so awful. How did we score the first goal? Cardiff gave the ball away. How did we score the second? Collison was totally unmarked outside the box following a corner. Cardiff were awful all night. Yes we pressed them, yes we closed, but they were truly dire.

But in answer to your general point, yes we can keep winning if the opposition are generally crap. This is supposedly such a hard division to get out of. Then explain why Reading, beaten play off finalists last year, went up as Champions and why the THREE relegated Prem clubs finished in third, fourth and fifth, with Cardiff - third or fourth last season? - occupying the last play off place. Birmingham and Blackpool were both significantly weakened over the summer but were still good enough to finish above EVERY team in the Championship last season, except Reading. That shows it is a crap division and you only have to be mediocre to succeed in it surely?

For a parallel, look at England. Great in qualifiers, crap in the real tournament. You can keep making the opposition look shit WHEN the opposition truly ARE shit!