We’re winning away!
Oh, what fun it is to see West Ham win away – something we didn’t see too much of over the last couple of years. But we’ve started this season with two victories in our first two excursions to already equal our tally of away successes last season. Of course, we’re now playing at a lower level, so you’d expect us to do better, but I half expected it would take longer than this to exorcise the demons of our recent travels.
The game at Doncaster was an odd affair. We got off the mark quickly when Nolan popped up at the far post to convert a Collison cross (which I think was meant for Piquionne) as early as the 5th minute. From then on, we kind of dominated the first half, without really threatening to take apart the hosts, who were very poor. Donny played so many passes into touch during the first half that I wondered if they were playing for line-outs. Rovers improved in the second half and managed to create a couple of chances, which fortunately they missed and in the end we hung on reasonably comfortably, though not convincingly, for the points.
The main entertainment for the afternoon was the West Ham fans, who turned out in numbers (over 3K), unlike the home support. We sang all throughout the game, and the pee-taking of the fat northern persons in the stand to our left was highly amusing. “Have you eaten all your mates?” The lardy ones seemed to take it all in good humour, fair play to them. “Same old West Ham, taking the p**s.”
That was my first visit to Doncaster’s Keepmoat stadium – it was ok, decent view, but a bit sterile, like most of the “flat-pack” new out-of-town stadiums that have sprung up. Plenty of room on the concourses, though, which makes a change, and quick service at the kiosks. Took over an hour after the game to do the couple of miles back to the M18, which was frustrating.
Next to Vicarage Road, and another impressive turn-out from the travelling Irons – again in fine voice throughout the evening – selling out the 4K allocation. Again we got off to a flyer when Tomkins headed in a corner after just 2 minutes. But Watford had a quite a bit of play for the rest of the half, and although we defended quite well, Green had to make an excellent save to prevent an equaliser. Then just as the board went up to display the added time, Joey O’Brien exchanged passes with Collison (I think) and raced into acres of space in the Watford half. He wasn’t closed down until he was in the penalty box, where his first shot was blocked, but the rebound fell kindly and he jabbed it home.
That goal must have knocked the stuffing out of the Hornets, as they were poor in the second half. West Ham dominated from then on, passing around the field with a lot of confidence. It was only a matter of time before we extended our lead, and a fine passing move opened up the Watford defence for Can’t Control to tap home an Ilunga cross from close range. This was the cue for many of the home fans to leave the ground – they were serenaded from the away stand with a chorus of “Is there a fire drill”. Scot Parker wrapped up the scoring in the dying moments of the game, having gone very close just minutes earlier.
Postives from the season so far…
- We seem to be better organised, which means that when not on the top of our game, we’ve not been overrun and have limited the opposition’s attempts at goal.
- Reid and Tomkins look pretty solid in central defence. Hope Tomkins injury doesn’t keep him out for too long.
- O’Brien has looked very useful at right back, a bargain of a free transfer if he keeps up this form.
- Nolan is showing the leadership and nous on the pitch that we have lacked for too long.
- We lack pace going forward.
- Long balls played up to the lone striker – either Piquionne or Cole – are not sticking and we are losing possession too often when we use this tactic.
- Despite the wins, we’ve only really played one quality half of football so far (2nd against Watford).
- Coincidentally, that half was also the only half where Parker’s heart has seemed to be in it. For the rest of the time, he seems to have been playing at 75% tops.