West Ham 0 Aston Villa 1
The 5.30 kick-off leaves time for a visit to both the Newham Bookshop and Ken’s Café, where both Phill Jupitus and Hattie Haydridge from Red Dwarf are sitting in the green room, supping tea among the brown sauce bottles. At the counter the missus phones just as Carol is demanding to know my order and for a moment there’s a terrible dilemma as to who should take precedence.
Meanwhile Matt and Lisa announce, “Nigel is at a dinner party in Isleworth, although it’s not the sort of thing he’d like to see ridiculed in a blog”. And this after missing the Spurs game to be in a spa hotel.
The first half is a cracking match. Bellamy has rediscovered his pace and races clear early on to force a good save from Friedel. Davenport heads over from a corner. “That’s why you’re going down!” sing the Brummie contingent.
Agbonlahor then skins Neill to set up Sidwell for a chance he scuffs under pressure from Upson. Then Scott Parker makes a terrible back pass and Young bends the ball round Green and Davenport on the line to hit the post. Then Barry claims Neill gas held him back in the box.
But against one of the current big four we come back strongly. Bellamy makes a fine break and almost finds Cole in the areas, only for Carlton to fall over. Neill plays Bellers in down the line and he accelerates to pit in a low cross which Davies hits towards his own goal only for Friedel to make another fine save.
Behrami tests Friedel with a fizzing 30-yard shot (who doesn’t he do it more often?) and then Green makes a splendid double stop from Milner and Barry just before half-time. Matt texts Nigel to ask how the prawn cocktails are going down at Abigail’s Party. He texts back, claiming to be in a pub that is being smashed up by the Kew Garden Hammers.
In the East Stand we’re happy with the performance and discuss our options. Why isn’t Freddie Sears on the bench, we wonder?
“He’s a bit over-excited before Christmas,” suggests Fraser. “Yes, he was very disappointed with the Wolverhampton Lapland. He’s not in the right metal condition for the game,” adds Matt.
As for finances, we have that sussed. “Just give all the money to Etherington, only don’t let him place the best himself. As he’s not very good at winning.”
As for Carlton Cole’s new five-year contract: “It feels like a life sentence,” suggests Lisa. “With no chance of parole,” I add.
The second half sees 25 minutes of sustained WHU pressure. Neill, by now having a fine match, crosses for Cole to head a glorious chance over. Even Match of the Day calls it “a very bad miss”.
Matt is losing patience with our build up as Bowyer, able to shoot, tries to play in someone else. “Too f***ing intricate! Just f***ing shoot!” he bellows.
Then Bellamy wriggles down the left and plays the ball in to Cole who this time does well to poke the ball towards Friedel, who this time saves with his legs. We have several corners followed by headers wide of their goal. Nigel Reo Coker comes on to choruses of “F*** off Reo-Coker!” from the Bobby Moore Stand. It looks like we’re never going to score. But even a point would be good against Villa.
Only then Collison plays the ball behind sub Bowyer on the edge of Villa’s box and they break swiftly. Milner, on the edge of our area crosses, it deflects off Lucas Neill’s knee and lopes freakishly into our top corner of our net. Sod it. It’s probably been our best performance of the season.
There’s still time for a free kick to fall to Davenport in the box, only he fires the bal too high at Friedel, who makes another good save, A Michael Owen would have kept it low in the corner.
Despite four minutes of added time we slump to another undeserved home defeat. Unlike Nigel, now no doubt on the brandy and discussing rugger in Isleworth, we didn’t get our just desserts.
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