Trying a new route from Blackstock Road to Barking on the Overground is an interesting experience. First there’s a Christian preacher telling the whole carriage he’s been saved by Jesus, who cured his stammer, and then a shouty woman having a go at Muslims. The preacher departs, the shouty woman carries on shouting at another woman who’s started to laugh at her, is ejected by two Underground staff then rushes back on to start punching the other woman, before being dragged off again by four staff at Woodgrange Park. Think I’ll stick to the more genteel Overground route to Stratford next time.
In Ken’s Café there’s Matt, Mike and Big Joe spreading promises of away tickets and cockney knees-ups at Leicester. Carol and her staff perform their usual miracles feeding us before kick-off. There’s a slightly ominous feeling among us, as we always seem to blow our chance to go top, especially when confronted with a team we’ve beaten 4-0 away.
In the second minute Taylor rattles a thirty-yard effort against the bar, the sort of spectacular effort he used to score with at Portsmouth and Bolton. A shame it doesn’t go in as we have plenty of possession in the first half but again lack a cutting edge. It’s probably a good thing that my new contact lenses are great for reading the programme but making everything on the pitch indistinct.
Taylor provides another good cross that Faubert volleys wide when he should hit the target while Maynard appears to have lost his confidence and fails to shoot first time when an opportunity arises. Our best chance comes when Cole makes a great beckheel to Noble who chips for the top corner only to se Kuszczak, on loan from Man United, make a great save.
At half-time Nigel says he can’t see us scoring and then makes the fatal comment: “I can feel it in my waters that we won’t concede either.” Cue groans from Matt, Fraser and myself.
We make a good start to the second half with a sustained spell of corners and free kicks with Tomkins’ downwards header bouncing over the bar. There’s a ten minute stoppage when Watford’s Bennett and Eustace clash heads in their penalty box, with Bennett going off on a stretcher and receiving sporting applause from the home crowd.
Then West Ham have their iffy patch, with 15 minutes of Watford coming increasingly into the game. The inevitable happens on 68 minutes as 18-year-old Sean Murray, on the corner of the area, fires a fine long range shot through a melee of players and in off the post.
That goal inspires more West Ham pressure. There appears to be a fire drill as the spectators in front of us file endlessly in and out of their seats. Do West Ham now just grab spectators off the street to fill the stadium? “Come on baby, cross the ball, cross the ball!” cries the deranged person a few seats down, over and over again, even when Tomkins and Faye have the ball.
Big Sam brings on Vaz Te for Taylor, Baldock for Maynard and Lansbury for O’Brien. Vaz Te immediately brings some spark to the side, playing in Baldock with a cleverly-weighted ball only for Little Sam to fail to connect properly and pass the ball to their keeper.
VAZ VAZ VOOM
Nolan has a shot deflected just wide for a corner and Faubert, who’s having a poor game, blazes over when he should hit the goal and Matt gets very cross when Carlton tries to squeeze in a header from an oblique angle. We show good character to fight back though. After a corner in the 87th minute Baldock manages to hook the ball back to Vaz Te who fires through a posse of players and in off the post.
The crowd make a lot of noise during the eleven minutes of injury time but still we can’t force the winning goal. Again we make a defence look brilliant in the air by aiming high balls at Vaz Te and co. There’s boos from some of the crowd at the whistle, which is bad, even though it’s not been a great performance. Jeremy Nicholas plays Katy Brand’s I Kissed A Girl, which Fraser feels is not showing sufficient solidarity with her ex, Russell Brand.
WHO NEEDS MESSI?
We drift off to the Black Lion musing that we enjoy Ken’s Café and the pub, it’s just the bit in between that is the problem. On the pub TV Messi scores five for Barcelona and Matt suggests he might get in our team.
In fairness, we’ve created several good chances and on another night would surely have nicked it. But three draws in our last three home games is worrying and Doncaster becomes a must win game. Second against bottom – what could possibly go wrong?