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Guest smoggeordie

West Ham Match Report - September 06


Rock solid defending, fantastic ball winning and distribution in the centre of the park, free flowing down the wings and pure strength, determination and down right quality up front. No, I’m not reporting on Chelsea Vs Liverpool, this was Newcastle United with one of their finest, most professional performances away from St James’ Park since the joys of the Robson era.


There was an air of confidence around Upton Park pre match. A Newcastle team low on confidence, which had scraped a victory against mediocre opposition in midweek, strolled into the away changing room, expected, by most, to roll over and be beaten comfortably.


But, as we all know, with Newcastle United you have to expect the unexpected.


We all heard in midweek from Roeder that there was “togetherness” in the camp, that the media will not affect our players. Well, he was absolutely spot on. It was quite evident that United had a point to prove, that we were going to show that qualifying for Europe was no fluke and every single player on the day did his duty.


Early on the signs weren’t that encouraging. The highly talented Tevez rattled Shay Given’s crossbar with an exquisite free kick, and then forced Lazarus into a smart save shortly after from another free kick in a similar position. The biggest heart in mouth moment after that came when Lee Bowyer audaciously tried to catch Shay off his line from what seemed well over 50 yards out. When it flew inches wide, even our rather lucky stopper could afford a wry smile.


A controversial choice from Roeder to leave out highly talented N’Zogbia seemed the right decision at the start. The player seemed low on form and confidence against Tallinn and got a breather today, with Duff reverting to his favoured left wing position and the highly talked about Milner took up the right wing slot.


A defence, worryingly short on options, virtually picked itself. Carr took up his customary right back slot, with the fit again Babayaro returning to left back after a few weeks on the sidelines. Peter Ramage deputised for the sidelined Titus Bramble and Craig Moore was once again at the heart of our defence.


Our strike force today looked the most healthy it has been for a long time. Martins, after his more impressive performance in midweek, started alongside the big frame of Shola Ameobi. Afters today’s performance, no one can argue that this combination does not have potential.


Our first effort on goal came early on, minutes after Tevez had rattled the woodwork. After what looked like a foul by Ameobi, Martins somehow evaded the offside trap and looked certain to score. Mr Styles waved away all appeals and unfortunately an off balance Oba dragged his shot inches wide.


A quick paced first half really didn’t have the amount of chances that some of the play deserved, with the only other attempt of note being a spectacular acrobatic attempt from Shola, when it seemed much more of a straightforward chance if he had gone for it with his head.


At half time we were looking impressive at 0-0, after being the better side for long periods of the opening 45.


The second half really was a joy to behold. From first to last, we totally bossed it with no real attempt on goal from the home side. How often have we been able to say that on our travels?


On the stroke of the 50th minute, Obafemi Martins got a lucky break deep inside his own half. Ten seconds later the ball was in the back of the West Ham net. An outstanding run from the Nigerian, where he covered almost half the length of the field, followed by an inch perfect lay off to Duff, resulted in the opening goal for the visitors. With defenders running in his wake, Martins superbly held off the “superstar” Mascherano, who had been anonymous in the match, and held his nerve to release the Irishman just at the right moment. If there was ever a way to win over the Toon faithful, that was a prime example. Duffer hit his shot with real venom and accuracy and although it was certainly saveable for Carroll, the sheer pace on the ball made it 0-1, to the joy of the travelling faithful.


From that moment on, we didn’t look back with Sibierski twice coming close before we notched the second. Fast, free flowing, football from the lads was well mixed in with clever, controlled possession of the ball to nullify any potential West Ham threat.


The second goal, although thoroughly deserved, can only go down as a defensive howler, capitalized on brilliantly by the new £10 million man. Lee Bowyer, whom one could almost think was still wearing a Black and White shirt after his perfectly weighted through ball to Martins, looked out of sorts all afternoon. Our new number 9 took full advantage of uncertainty in the home team’s ranks, and fantastically slotted home his first in the famous Black and White shirt. This time, the keeper stood no chance and the joy and massive relief was evident on the face of a delighted Martins.


That goal brought an end to the majority of the goalmouth actions, barring a fantastic Parker block from a late Hammers free kick. Our skipper, in truth, was lucky to still be on the pitch after some wild challenges earlier in the game.


Although the goals had all happened, the match was still not finished, not by a long shot, and the biggest talking point of the match came with barely minutes left on the referee’s watch. A smart through ball from Benayoun set a, clearly offside, Marlon Harewood in on Shay Given’s goal. What happened next was horrific, as far as the away dugout was concerned. Whether it was deliberate or accidental is still up for debate, but the facts speak for themselves. The clumsy striker came rushing recklessly in on the opposition’s goal, and ended up going studs up towards the chest of the advancing keeper. Lazarus was clearly hurt, and was rushed to hospital and later had surgery on an abdominal tear. Knowing him though, he’ll be back in action in a matter of games.


However, whilst our number one was receiving much needed treatment, there was a storm brewing at the technical area. Newcastle fans, quite rightly in my opinion, were chanting the name of Glenn Roeder, as it looked certain that we had three points in the bag. They begged him to wave, and he complied with a clenched fist. How this caused scores of Cockneys to attempt to confront Roeder in person is anyone’s guess, but personally I’d like to see the FA investigate. A football stadium is no place for the violent action displayed by disgruntled West Ham fans, taking their anger out on the dominant manager, rather than a lacklustre performance from the team in Claret.


This was followed by a rendition of “You’re the reason we went down”, directed at Roeder himself. Well, all I have to say to Glenn is: You’re the reason we stayed up. You’re the reason we’re in European competition and you’re the reason we won yesterday. Plain and simple.


A great away day for United, here’s to many more this season.


Keep the Faith



How quickly things change :lol:  :(

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