West Ham musings by Pete May, author of Hammers in the Heart, West Ham:Irons in the Soul, Flying So High:West Ham's Cup Finals and Goodbye to Boleyn
Tuesday, March 7
Game Hammers succumb to classy Chelsea
West Ham 1 Chelsea 2
It’s in to the Clyde Best Café for egg, chips and beans with
my old schoolmate Mark and Matt and Lisa. Then there’s a rendezvous with Roz
and Joe via a teeming H block to dispense Steve the Cornish Postman’s ticket. Fraser’s
absent visiting his agent, threatening to dispense an Ibrahimovic-like elbow
unless he publishes his western blockbuster, while Nigel’s on time and tells us
he’s taken CQ on a Valentine’s date to Eastleigh v Braintree.
There’s an early scare as Andy Carroll goes down with a cut
face after a clash of heads with Victor Moses, but like the Black Knight, he
declares it’s just a scratch. Several Chelsea players go down but for once
there’s no cry of “get up you tart!"— the very angry chap behind us has seemingly
gone AWOL along with Alison and Scott.
It’s a good first half hour from West Ham. Obiang gets in
some good tackles and Cresswell and Snodgrass, who is playing more as a conventional
winger without Antonioin the side, get in a series of crosses aimed at Andy
Carroll. But Cahill are Azpilicueta are solid and David Luiz has a brilliant
game at the back, seeming to stroll through the match.
West Ham get a free kick that Snodgrass fires into the wall.
Snoddy’s pass to Feghouli is intercepted by Kante, who releases Hazard. The
revitalised Chelsea man plays a quick one-two with Pedro, beats Obiang for
speed, rounds Randolph and scores a quality goal. It took eight seconds.A bald bloke has got on the pitch and tried
to attack the celebrating Hazard and Luiz, but is thankfully contained by
stewards. We didn’t realise Fraser had shaved his head.
West Ham keep fighting and Lanzini fires over when well-placed.
But Chelsea almost double their lead when another speedy Hazard break sees
Cresswell block one goal bound shot and Randolph make a fine save from the
The game seems over after 50 minutes. A Chelsea corner
flicks off Obiang’s head and Reid has let Costa get goal-side as Desperate Dan
thighs it over the line. A cheap goal to give away.
“We’re gonna win the league!” chant the away fans, along with praise for big Fat Frankie Lampard and the metaphysical, "you sold your soul for this shithole!" Chelsea
do look like likely champions. Kante wins everything in front of the defence and
Hazard and Pedro threaten every time they break. Their three subs are Matic,
Willian and Zouma, which tells you about the strength of their squad.
MANUEL'S LATE CONSOLATION
But credit to West Ham for keeping going. Andy Carroll fires
over, and then Snodgrass gets in a low cross from the left and Courtois has to make
a fine stop from Feghouli’s drive, and from the melee there’s an appeal for
handball. Feghouli gets in another cross that Fonte heads just over. At the
other end Costa draws a great save from Randolph.
Nigel and his lucky banana
Nigel wonders if it's too late to eat his lucky banana. It all looks over, only deep in added time sub Ayew finds
Lanzini who finishes well in a half-deserted stadium. There’s only a minute
left and you want West Ham to equalise just to prove to the part-timers that
you should never leave a match before the end.
But there’s not enough time and Chelsea get their points.
We’re all slightly relieved that the scoreline makes it look a closer game than
it was, even if the Hammers did have 52 per cent of the possession.
So it’s a trek back to Stratford over the crowded railway
bridge and into the King Edward for some Doombar. Matt dispenses copies of When
Saturday Comes and Nigel reveals that he’s been to a Procol Harum gig at the
RFH where singer Gary Brooker skipped off stage and fall and hurt his head,
only to gamely play on in a bandage like a musical Andy Carroll. I wonder if he
turned a whiter shade of pale.
It’s a game that rather sums up our season. We can’t take a
big name scalp but we can beat the middle-rankers. Still, it was no disgrace to
lose to the likely champions and had we pulled one back earlier we might even
have had them worried. And on a positive note there was no major crowd trouble
and Carroll got through 90 minutes.