West Ham 0 Birmingham City 1
Pre-match preparations are fine. My daughters are here as it’s kids for a quid and in Ken’s Café we meet match day announcer Jeremy Nicholas and then blogger Iain Dale — who has upset Carol by describing Ken’s as a “greasy spoon” on the radio, when as we all know it is themed retro cuisine at its finest. Big Joe arrives to spend the money we had thrown at us at Birmingham.
Then it’s off to the Newham Bookshop for a chat with Vivian and double book purchase for the girls.
Inside the stadium Jeremy Nicholas announces that it’s Avram Grant’s 56th birthday and from then on it’s all downhill. James Tomkins injures himself in the warm-up. And this being a 1.30pm kick-off, there’s a strangely muted atmosphere zamonmg the crowd. Birmingham have about ten fans which is terrible. Where are all the brave lads who tried to attack us at St Andrew's?
Nothing much happens in the first half. Obinna has a dangerous cross, Keane volleys over, Pedersen and O'Neil play in dangerous low crosses but no forward attacks them and that’s about it. It’s a mediocre game for Sky after the Premier League goal record of the previous day. Birmingham look difficult to break down and we don’t enjoy playing against them.
At half-time Fraser reveals he's been to see Adam Ant — although West Ham are showing no signs of becoming Kings of the Wild Frontier. Even though ridicule is nothing to be scared of.
In the second half we get a bit worse. Upson has to be replaced by Da Costa, and Brum bring on Larsson, who changes the game. We have one inviting chance when Parker breaks only to play a poor ball. Scotty doesn’t have a great game, for once, and you wonder how tired he is after his exertions this season. Keane looks frustrated and nothing comes off for him, while Piquionne is off his game.
Da Costa gives a free kick away and Larsson fires the ball towards Zigic. We clear it, but immediately Mark Noble barges Bentley in the back, causing an ungodly explosion of expletives from the Vicar’s Son besides me.
Larsson fires in the dead ball and Zigic gets goalside of Bridge to head home. He runs off to celebrate in front of the meagre away fans – on Match of the Day all you can see is one man and a boy.
The man in black makes some eccentric decisions as our players are battered by the Brummies and I tell young Nell that the crowd are singing, “The referee’s an anchor!”
Ba and Cole come on for Keane and Piquionne. Ba nearly scores with a great first touch, hitting the post with a difficult chance.
We improve a little, Da Costa has a long range shot saved with no one following in. Then Da Costa heads just wide as Cole almost prods it in.
We lack width and no forward ever seems to run to the far post. Roger Johnson looks composed, Ferguson runs midfield and in truth it’s comfortable for Birmingham. At least the kids have only had to pay a quid – only now it seems we’ve been overcharged.
The whistle blows. Oh what a birthday surprise, Alex has beaten Avram's team. We troop away to Tesco in search of Moshi Monster cards to try to take away the pain. A thoroughly dispiriting day. We’ve never got going. If we can’t take at least point from games like this, then what hope is there?
Avram goes home to celebrate his birthday with Morrissey. The only positives are that Winston Reid has played OK, Upton Park tube is open and we don’t have to play Birmingham again this season — and probably next.
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