Sunday, December 14, 2003

West Ham v Sunderland, December 13th 2003: Match Report

Well, it wouldn't be Xmas without The Great Escape, would it? And so, The Happy Hammers achieved what not even Stevie McQueen managed, with the completion of a stirring 3-2 victory over Sunderland after being 2-0 behind at half-time.

The Mackems opened the scoring in the fourth minute, which I missed as I was completing a mazy dribble of my own in the loos at the time. And in truth it was all too piss-easy for the Black Cats for the rest of the half, as Jon Oster made it two on the half-hour, thanks to some terribly indecisive defending from a back four seemingly intent on wrapping up the three points for the visitors and sealing them with a kiss under the mistletoe. Super Tomas Repka and skipper Christian Dailly then got involved in an unseemly spat with each other, and the BBC's description of our team at this stage as 'a shambolic rabble' represents the height of seasonal generosity.

Indeed, things were so embarrassing I was ready to reach for my fake beard and disappear into the nearest spiderhole (or failing that, watering-hole) but the introduction of Don Hutchison and Brian Deane early in the second half added some bite and belief into the side, and seemingly out of nowhere Jermain Defoe scrambled in a goal and we didn't really look back from there. Soon after, Matthew Etherington (largely ineffective up to that point) threaded a stunning ball over to Defoe to notch in the equaliser. This goal was such a beautiful piece of work that if it was a woman I'd have shagged it senseless for the rest of the weekend.

Sunderland seemed resigned to their fate at this point, and the momentum reached its climax with Ian Pearce (who had not exactly distinguished himself in defence) prodding in a rebound from Kevin Horlock's free-kick for the winner. Sunderland rallied a little but without conviction, and only the (all too real) prospect of David James doing something stupid stood between ourselves and an improbable victory. Which left the visitors departing Upton Park, in the words of their own manager, 'sad, morose and sick'. Which is just as it should be.

The day just got better with the news that the Tottscum had been thrashed 4-0 by the Toon Army. The White Hart Lame crew certainly seemed to have turned the corner under caretaker boss David Pleat, and much to my amusement, looks like it's taking them straight into the Nationwide. Chelski also suffered a humbling reversal at home to Bolton Wanderers, but a couple of footsoldiers from Roman's Army advised me on the tube that the one consolation for them was that we'd been turned over as well. When I patiently pointed out to them that Nationwide games last 90 minutes and we had in fact turned around our deficit to take all three points, their faces dropped as if Mr Abramovich himself had consigned them to a lengthy spell in the salt-mines. And you know how I hate to piss on anyone's spuds, particularly when they've had to queue up for three days for them.

So we're back in the top six and the play-off spots, but new boss Alan Pardew still has a lot of work to do if we're to have any chance of gaining a swift return to the Premiership this term. With Defoe virtually certain to leave in the transfer window, let's hope Pards gets enough of the fee to reinvest in the team: a left-back, central defender and creative midfielder being the priorities judging on yesterday's performance.


Post a Comment

<< Home