Moving Away from Negativity
Report of match West Ham United 1 Burnley 2 played 3rd December 2011
Reporter Gary Hitchen
An afternoon that began with understandable trepidation ended in jubilation at the Boleyn Ground as we came from a goal down to beat West Ham in their own backyard for the first time in over 38 years.
What a difference a week makes and the mood at the final whistle as the players celebrated with the fans was a million miles away from the gloom at around 4.30pm last Saturday.
|Michael Duff - "Gold"|
I'll admit to feeling apprehensive about this game beforehand. West Ham has not been a happy hunting ground of late and with Fat Sam's men riding high the general comments before the game were along the lines of "at least we've had those 2 good wins already this week, whatever happens today" . A decent following of clarets was tucked away in the usual corner , despite the somewhat exorbitant £32 admission, and before kick off we were able to join in the respectful minute of applause in remembrance of Gary Speed.
As I'd expected Eddie had decided to revert to 4-5-1 for this one, with Dean Marney returning alongside captain McCann and Marv in a "3 Ms" midfield, whilst Sam Vokes moved to the bench. However, soon after kick-off it became apparent that I was going to suffer from an acute case of The Bloke Behind Me syndrome.
Unfortunately TBBM was not a fan of Eddie Howe and , as the game got off to a fairly uneventful start, with Burnley sitting back and seemingly content to concede territory and possession he soon began to vent his feelings about Eddie's perceived tactical shortcomings.
TBBM was a 4-4-2 man through and through...fair enough but his constant sniping and criticism were way over the top in a first half which was a real pipe and slippers job as West Ham huffed and puffed but, bar one Kevin Nolan glaring miss , failed to cause any real anxiety. At our end of the ground there was very little going on bar one low shot from Keith Treacy into the side-netting and a McCann shot from 25 yards which went wide off the referee's back.
In truth the best entertainment of the first half was listening to the creative singing of a group of our fans who have specialised in making up new songs for individual players set to chart hits. "Marvin, Marvin Bartley" to the tune of the Human League's "Don't you Want Me" is commendable enough but their Duff tribute, adapted from Spandau Ballet's "Gold", is a true classic . As it happened it was fitting on a day when Michael Duff was a rock.
Personally I was fairly content to get to half-time goalless and the home crowd silent. However TBBM's moaning had reached such an intensity by now that I decided to change seats and moved a few yards away from him.
The start of the second half saw West Ham coming forward but to no great avail whilst we looked like we had more attacking intent as well as the game began to open up. However suddenly a long punt forward from Green was flicked on to somehow end up with Nolan through on goal. The ball sat up for him beautifully and it was a simple job to lob it gently over Lee Grant and into the net. "Plenty of time yet" said my new more positive neighbour.
As it happened we didn't need that much more time. The response to going behind was excellent. McCann , perhaps revelling in the freedom given him by Marney and Marvin, began to drive forward and after 57 minutes he got on the end of a Junior Stanislas cross to head the equaliser. It really was game on now and we were watching a totally different game to the torpid first period with play swinging from end-to-end. West Ham were stung and only a point blank block by Kieran Trippier's face denied sub Piquionne after a cross from the right.
By now Ross Wallace had replaced an anonymous Treacy and he immediately began to carry the ball with pace , helping the more open nature of play. The referee, outrageously hailing from the West ham hotbed that is Essex, made himself unpopular with us by booking Chris McCann on halfway whilst turning a blind eye to a couple of incidents involving Nolan.
With 20 minutes left it was anybody's game and I was pleased to have the chance to see Vokes at first hand for the first time when he replaced Stanislas. McCann continued to push us on and hit a great shot, which Green tipped over for a corner. Cometh the hour cometh the subs and Wallace's corner was firmly headed in by Vokes. Cue away end delirium.
15 minutes to go and there was still work to do but with the joyful clarets in full voice , the team clearly giving it everything they had and West Ham starting to look desperate (I give you John Carew) it was more enjoyable than many similar scenarios I've suffered through in the past. Inevitably there were 4 minutes of added time.
Has there ever been a game we were winning by one goal which has not had at least 4 minutes of added time? By this stage though the impeccable Jay, Vokes and Wallace were holding the ball up front so effectively that there was no real threat to our goal.
As the whistle went and three sides of the stadium emptied rapidly the players and management came over and were clearly as elated as we were. Shirts were thrown into the crowd, fists were pumped and massive smiles all round as the greatest chant in the world ..E-I-E-I-E-I-O Up the Football League we go ...rang out in a corner of East London. I looked over at TBBM. He was grinning from ear to ear and singing "Eddie Howe is King".
This was a win which showed we have a great team spirit , some hard-working and talented players and a manager who knows what he is doing. The spine of the team looked much stronger, with Duff, Jay and the centre midfielders all outstanding. By defending from the front we relieved the pressure on our suspect defence which is hopefully finally starting to show more solidity.
This week has given us all a massive lift. Lets end the negativity get behind this manager, this team and our club now. Can't wait for the next game. UTC.
|Competition: npower Championship Date: Saturday, 3rd December 2011 Kick off: 15:00 Venue: Boleyn Ground|
|West Ham Utd.
|1 - 2||Burnley
|17||Joey O'Brien (Carew 80)|
|14||Matthew Taylor (Piquionne 56)|
|21||Papa Bouba Diop|
|11||John Carew (O'Brien 80)|
|30||Frédéric Piquionne (Taylor 56)|
|26||Keith Treacy (Wallace 58)|
|11||Junior Stanislas (Vokes 69)|
|19||Sam Vokes (Stanislas 69)|
|7||Ross Wallace (Treacy 58)|
|West Ham Utd. cards shown|
|Burnley cards shown|
|66 mins||Michael Duff||Unsporting behaviour|
|66 mins||Chris McCann||Dissent|
|90+4 mins||Sam Vokes||Dissent|