Saints v West Ham
St.Mary's, Wednesday 11th February 2015
> West Ham keeper sent off
In March 1981, I was at a friend’s house, we’d been listening to one of the early Cockney Rejects albums, but turned it off to put the radio on to listen to West Ham playing Liverpool in the League Cup final; and we wanted West Ham to win. Neither of us were WHU fans, but because of the aforementioned Rejects and the fact that WHU played really good football, we both had a soft spot for them, as we both had for a number of years.
I mention that because now I loath West Ham, and can’t stand their manager, the odious Kevin Nolan and the general way they play footer (I’m still partial to those early Cockney Rejects albums though).
It was a night that saw the two sporting loves in our house collide, so with S taking B to a netball match, I called up my nephew to ask if he fancied accompany me to SMS. I first started taking him to The Dell when he was 4 or 5, we then had season tickets together at SMS for years before he grew up, got a job that meant he had to work some Saturdays and decided he’d rather go to footer with his mates. Fair enough, I’m grateful he wanted to come along with me for so long, I’d ditched my uncle to go to The Dell with my mate around the time I left school.
So it was good to go to a game with him after so long, and made up for the fact that we’d be watching West Ham. I met him in town and he confirmed the news that Mighty Morgan was not playing, and wasn’t even a sub. Ward-Prowse was on the bench though, along with Djuricic and Tadic.
As the game got underway it became obvious quite quickly that there was a different sort of crowd around us; the atmosphere was edgy and a little discontented, which was odd as we started quite brightly I thought, and West Ham looked poor from the start. It seemed only only a matter of time before we scored.
Directly behind us were an older couple, they chatted throughout the game, but didn’t seem to be 100% aware of what was going on. Tadić came out to warm up and the bloke excitedly said “Oh, here’s the new guy.” The woman with him asked “Is it?” to which he replied “No, that’s Tadić.”
Mané was looking dangerous and if Wanyama didn’t sort out WHU when they got a bit of possession, then Reed did, and he received warm applause whenever he touched the ball. The same cannot be said for Pellè, at least not from a few of the idiots sat around us. He’s not scoring at the moment, however that’s not to say he isn’t contributing to how we play, but that side of his game can’t have been visible from their seats. One guy was so angry, his face was contorted in comic fury, like a UKIP voter getting wound up by the Daily Mail’s latest fictitious immigrant story.
The grumbles were supplemented by the odd bit of casual homophobia, and then sexism when a woman somewhere close by dared to speak up for Pellè. My nephew turned to me and said “I’d forgotten how many idiots go to footer.” I told him they weren’t normally there, so it was his fault.
We had the ball a lot, we passed it around, trying to break down their massed lines while they kicked and elbowed us and the ref seemed to let it go on. Mané was booked for a challenge on Song, but only when Song belatedly fell over clutching his leg.
The bloke behind was having problems telling Song and Kouyaté apart, despite their different sizes, looks and the fact one was number 8 and the other number 30... And they had their name on their shirts.
There was a couple of scrambles in their goal mouth, but we couldn’t break through. It was frustrating.
Tadić and Đuričić came out to warm up together and the bloke behind said “Get them two on, they know each other!”
The second half saw WHU bring on Jarvis, although both my nephew and me thought the announcer said Giles. Nothing much changed, we played with the ball, West Ham kicked us, and we couldn’t score. Even their bringing on Andy Carroll didn’t change the game.
Then they were reduced to ten men. Wham keeper, Adrián, tried to be too clever, but Mané was better and went to nick the ball off him. In the melee that followed Adrián dived on the ball, but he was outside the area. The ref sent him off, it may well have been the only thing he got right all night.
From behind came the startled exclamation, “He’s off, who’s going to take the gloves? Who’s it going to be?” Then, “Why is it a free kick outside the box?”
When a Hammers player kicked the ball on to the roof of the stand he excitedly said, “That’s gone, it’s actually gone....It’s not coming down!”
We attacked and attacked as West Ham gave up any thought of countering, but our final ball or shot just wasn’t good enough. Pellè tried an acrobatic overhead kick, but the ball almost comically slowly looped into Substitute keeper, Jääskeläinen’s hands.
By this time Carroll was injured, and our friend behind instantly diagnosed his problem, 'Carroll’s gone, it’s his groin again.'
Mané was substituted, I think more because he was on a yellow card and the way the ref was officiating he may well have looked to even the numbers up.
New boy Đuričić looked neat and tidy when he came on, but couldn’t really do much to influence the game, unfortunately.
We were playing against 9 men, but those 9 men put themselves between us and the goal and we didn’t have the craft to get through. Fonte had the best effort, a long range shot that was well saved. Shots went over, headers went wide and despite five minutes of added on time, that was it.
We didn’t play particularly badly, we just lacked our early season incisiveness in front of goal. I can understand why Mané was taken off, but I think if he’d stayed on he may well have been the one to get a goal.
At the final whistle the West Ham fans’ cheers were as loud as ours were when we got a draw against Chelsea; I guess that sums up their expectations of the game.
Two points dropped, certainly, but we won at their ground, and if the results had been the other way round and we’d got 4 points from a draw away and a win at home we’d have probably been quite happy.
I enjoyed being at the footer with my nephew, but didn’t like the unusually negative and offensive atmosphere in our bit of the stand. Except, of course, from the old couple behind us, they can stay, they were entertaining.
I got to write about our demolition of Sunderland earlier in the season, so I guess it’s only fair that I had to do this one too.
12th February 2015
06 Fonte - Booked
28 Reed (Ward-Prowse 67')
10 Mané Booked (Djuricic 81')
22 Elia (Tadic 63')
13 Adrián - Dismissed
15 Sakho (Carroll 55')
24 Cole Booked (Jääskeläinen 63')
31 E Valencia (Jarvis 45')
Ronald Koeman rues missed opportunity after West Ham draw
Gardoş frustrated after Hammers draw
West Ham 0
- Southampton 67%
- West Ham 33%
- Southampton 21
- West Ham 4
- Southampton 7
- West Ham 1
- Southampton 8
- West Ham 2
- Southampton 12
- West Ham 11
Referee : Craig Pawson
Attendance : 31,241