Monday, September 11, 2006


Hammers Lucky

A 1-1 draw at home to Aston Villa was a somewhat flattering result for West Ham as they apparently succumbed to stagefright in their first match following all the hype over Tevez and Mascherano.

The two signings were on the bench though as Pardew named the usual side, with the exception of Mears filling in for the injured Pa(i)ntsil.

Villa ran us ragged for the first half, with the central midfield pair barely getting involved. West Ham just kept giving the ball away cheaply, and it wasn't just one or two players but most of the team. Konchesky in particular kept reverting to the long ball, while Gabbidon, Mullins and Reo-Coker could hardly get a forward pass to its intended target. Villa scored early with a goal from a corner - this was to set the tone for the match as West Ham seemed to have no idea how to deal with any of their set pieces. In fact, Mears had to clear off the line with a spectacular and skillful bicycle kick, and Ferdinand also saved our bacon with another clearance soon after.

Honestly the first half was miserable. We were lucky only to concede a single goal. But there were two rays of hope - Zamora, who was very active and provided some great support work, and Benayoun. The little Israeli was trying his best to get the other Hammers involved but nobody was really giving him any support.

I'd hoped the second half would be different, and it was, sort of - as seems to be our way lately the Hammers kept building momentum. A great corner from Bowyer found Konchesky outside the area, and the bald headed fullback's bullet header was deflected into the goal by - who else? - Zamora. Z-man had a quiet second half but a good goal, unlike his very good first half and no goal. Go figure. Personally I'd give it to Konchy as Zamora barely knew anything about it - but it's nice to have someone at the top of the scorer's charts.

The momentum kept building although Villa still had their chances. Pardew brought on Etherington, who looked seriously lacking in fitness but not in heart, and the much-anticipated Carlito Tevez. The latter seemed to fire up the Hammers as they all started to follow his lead: chasing the ball and really trying to tear Aston Villa a new arse. It nearly came off a few times, particularly with the lively Benayoun, but a second goal would have been a bit fortunate considering Villa's domination of the midfield. In the end he snatched at a volley in the hurry to get a winner, when on another day he'd have been composed enough to perhaps control the ball and slot it in. But it would have been more than West Ham deserved, and hopefully they will have their heads sorted before the next match.

Player ratings

Carroll 7 - Didn't do much wrong and made a couple of good saves. Decent distribution.
Mears 6 - Not sure what to make of him. Needs to step up really. Fantastic goalline clearance though.
Ferdinand 6 - The better of the back two, but didn't really seem to get a hold of the game. Sometimes lost concentration, at other times did some great work.
Gabbidon 5 - Another poor game from Gabbers. I don't know what's happened to him but he couldn't do much right. Time for his fiery-haired Welsh teammate, perhaps?
Konchesky 6 - Good defending, occasionally out of position but generally good. Rotten distribution spoilt his game.
Bowyer 6 - Passed the ball well generally but drifted in and out.
Mullins 5 - Overran.
Reo Coker 5 - Did two things that were good, but was absent for long periods and kept giving the ball away.
Benayoun 7 - Great effort, covered a lot of ground trying to get things moving along, but West Ham suffered from the lack of width that this brought about.
Harewood 5 - Dear oh dear. I'd be surprised if he starts next match.
Zamora 7 - Tough one to score. Good first half but absent in the second half, yet he got a "goal". Still worth a start.

Tevez (on for Harewood) 7 - Man, has this boy got quick feet or what. Looks good, but still not fit.
Etherington (on for Bowyer) 6 - Tried to do his usual thing but it wasn't coming off due to a lack of fitness. Needs to get some game time.
Cole (on for Zamora) - 6 No time.

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