Sunday, 21 August 2011

A point apiece at Upton Park

This is possibly one of our biggest games in this league. Everyone knows West Ham and Leeds do not like each other. The game didn't show too much hate until the last couple of minutes but still provided to be an interesting affair.

West Ham started the game brightly, keeping the ball and making Leeds chase the game, we looked dangerous from set pieces again, Sam Allardyce really has sorted out this teams aerial ability. First we had a long throw from the left by Ilunga, Cole jumped perfectly to flick the ball behind him and produce a save from the Leeds goalkeeper Lonergan. This led to a corner which was whipped in by Taylor as expected and the first man to that ball was Tomkins again, almost getting the chance to celebrate his second goal in as many games, but unfortunately for him the keeper was equal to it again. The second corner as a result saw Carlton Cole, somehow get his foot in front of the Leeds defender and guide the ball beautifully into the back of the net, Upton Park was sent in to a frenzy, as West Ham go up within 6 minutes.

Once West Ham scored, it appeared Leeds decide to up the pressure, giving West Hams players absolutely no time on the ball, making players make the odd mistake, Leeds carved out a very good chance thanks to Clayton and Gradel, but Green spotted the danger and tipped the ball over the bar. Leeds continued to threaten, with no real clear chances at goal, West Ham managed to carve out another chance around 20 minutes in with some quick one touch passing and Noble moving to create himself a little space and curling a right footer towards the bottom right corner, again the keeper being equal to it. Then something unbelievable happened, a throw in was sent in and Matt Taylor lent down to chest the ball and the ball clipped his hand resulting in a Leeds penalty, up stepped Max Gradel, a former West Ham target, he went straight for the bottom right corner but tried to get so much pace into the shot that he guided wide, West Ham let off. West Ham then had a penalty shout of their own, where Carlton Cole nodded the ball past a defender and charged into the box when the racing back defender clearly caught Coles leg and brought him down, yet the referee waves away the protests from players and the crowd.

Gradel managed to create another chance among a lot of moments of the ball bouncing up and down the pitch, each team sharing the ball, his shot was a strong accurate strike from outside the area, Green was equal to it and managed to push it wide, a lovely save from the ex England number one! The chances then seemed to be equally shared, with neither side looking overly dangerous, I was particularly impressed with how well West Hams midfield coped when forced under pressure to keep moving the ball about and another great half from Tomkins, winning the aerial battle and timing some very good tackles. Gradel had probably been their best player, creating chances from himself and others, although he wasn't having too much luck as the West Ham team didn't want to give him much time to be as much of a threat as he can be. Half time and 1-0 up, it's all looking good so far, Leeds probably had a better half overall but never created a really clear chance, but with the amount of pressure they used fatigue could easily be a factor in the second half.

The second half unfortunately for West Ham, started much like the second ended, Leeds piling on pressure constantly, keeping the ball in the West Ham half, with constant threats around our goal, a third penalty shout, this time for Leeds from a Scott Parker tackle, on initial thoughts it was a brilliant tackle but replays show Parker didn't actually touch the ball. This didn't stop Leeds though they were constantly threatening after as well and the pressure eventually paid off when the ball was slided in from the right to McCormack's feet and he slotted it home, right after Faubert had come on for Collison, 1-1 and Leeds defintiely deserved it. 2 minutes later though and the tactical sub from Allardyce paid off as Faubert delivered a beautiful ball which was slotted home, by a Leeds defender, a perfect delivery and West Ham restore their lead, 2-1!

Following on from this and Leeds' pressure continued but West Ham were fighting for this game as well, finally showing a bit more passion and both sides were creating oppurtunites at each end. Then on came John Carew for his debut for Carlton Cole. Suddenly Leeds really did look like they were starting to tire out, running out of ideas, always giving the ball to Gradel in a hope they could get past the defence of West Ham or draw fouls. Faubert and Carew linked perfectly to almost get a lovely goal, unfortunately the ball trickled wide. Faubert delivered the ball brilliantly again almost seeing another own goal from Kisnobro but thankfully for him it went wide, then West Ham had a corner which met the head of Tomkins only to be denied by Lonergan again, resulting in another corner which Tomkins headed down to Reid who smashed the ball towards goal and somehow, out of nowhere Lonergan threw himself low and deflected the ball wide, amazing goalkeeping from the Leeds United man.

Leeds started trying to up the tempo again, keeping West Ham pegged back, thankfully for West Ham they didn't get a clear target at goal. The chances then appeared to switch between the two sides, although Faubert and Parker linked beautifully to carve out a wonderful chance but were denied by the woodwork. Leeds, as dangerous as they have been just couldn't seem to create a decent chance, whether it was West Hams organised defence, along with a lack of really dangerous crosses, this game could have been very different at times. Then in the 90th minute, just like at home against Cardiff, heartbreak, Leeds' constant pressure finally paid off with a superb but far too easy to make cross was sent in and the ball was smashed against the bar, only to drop right out to a Clayton who smashed the ball home with a chance he couldn't really miss.

In hind sight Leeds were truely deserving of 1 point and had they been more lethal in front of goal, it could so easily have been 3 for them and 0 for West Ham. It's unfortunate as we had a few chances to get 2 goalss ahead but Lonergan was outstanding and that was probably a Man of the Match performance.It's tough to really say who deserved it overall so maybe a point a piece is fair. I personally feel we need McCartney to get fit fast though, Ilunga was not quick enough to close down the crosser for Leeds' second goal, which cost us dearly again. Carew looked very sharp though and Faubert played extremely well at right midfield, so we could see a lot more of those two. So 1 point from 2 home games, is slightly disappointing, but teams are always going to play their best at Upton Park, as for them it would be like us playing at Old Trafford, it's never going to be easy and our away form will probably count towards a lot more than it would normally.

No comments:

Post a Comment