West Ham 2 Hull City 0
Mist hangs over Upton Park, Bubbles is sung powerfully and it has the air of one of those special games under the lights. Before the kick-off the returning Jeremy Nicholas asks us to welcome the appearance of record signing Savio on the bench.
The early pressure is nearly all West Ham, with Hull’s defence displaying the nervousness of a side that has lost five games in succession. We’re bright and inventive, Di Michele curves a lovely shot onto the angle of Hull goal’s. Then Cole tumbles in the area and the ref awards us a softish penalty. We’re saying that Nobes has never missed one as Hull’s debutant keeper Duke makes a good save.
Is it going to be one of those nights? No, Cole curves in a cross come shot that Duke palms into the path of the grateful Di Michele who scores his foutt goal of the season on 33 minutes.
Di Michele them misses the goal when through and Collison hits the post after a delightful cross from the rampant Di Michele. Then Carlton faces Duke in a one-on-one only to hesitate in Zamora-esque fashion and allow his shot to be smothered.
“He’s trying to put Juventus off,” suggests Matt, “After the transfer window has closed he’ll be back to his old clinical self.”
At half-time we decide that Hull must improve and we may rue our missed chances. Only Fraser, so cool he’s the Fonz of the East Stand, still has ice in his veins. “We’ll be fine”, he declares, just like he did in the Cup Final.
The second half sees a similarly one-sided game. On 49 minute Collins heads a free kick back to Di Michele, who hits the post, only for Cole to prod home the rebound. Five in five league games for Carlton.
Some of the football is delightful, pinging the ball around in real academy style. Di Michele is having his best ever game for the Hammers. Cole has two more efforts saved by Duke and Noble has a subtle chip turned over the bar.
Hull come into the game with the arrival of the Dickensian-looking figure of Jimmy Bullard, who draws a good save from Green. Savio gets a few minutes on the pitch. He looks small but willing to take players on. Matt starts to panic as Noble miscontrols the ball. “We can’t cruise, that’s 17 bad balls in 17 minutes!” Sub Boa Morte puts the ball wide when it seems easier to score.
“How s**t is Boa Morte?” implores Matt.
“Imagine how angry he’d be if we were 4-0 up,” quips Nigel.
We see the game out and the side leave the pitch to Bubbles and resounding cheers. There’s something in the air. Is it the Cup run or the thought that Zola might be building something here?
It's our best performance of the season. Unbeaten for six games. Thirty two points! Eighth! A great night ends with two pints in the Central, a glimpse of Carlton driving out of the ground in his 4x4 tank with blacked-out windows and the Hull City coach driving straight into a bollard. "They need a new coach," says Nigel. Happy days.
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