Monday, 29 August 2011

Victory at the City Ground

This game was being billed as one of the toughest away matches West Ham will face this season, with Nottingham Forest making the play-offs consistently, yet unable to get themselves back into the big time, they would be a tough opposition for the Hammers to face in their fight to return to the Premiership at the first time of asking.

Forest are renowned for being extremely solid at the back, but their attacking line always had some questions hanging over it, were they good enough to fight strong defensive lines? Here would be a good chance to find out as they faced a West Ham squad with 2 changes of note from the Leeds game. Parker had not travelled with the squad, over what is believed to be a potential transfer to our fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur, with Faubert replacing him, meaning a much more natural midfield, Collison playing in his preferred centre midfield role alongside Nolan and Noble, with Faubert providing width from the right and as usual Taylor on the left. The other change was at left back, where many fans had been begging Ilunga not to play there, after multiple mistakes in recent games, he had been dropped for George McCartney who plays on the left once more for the Hammers, a welcome change for everyone!

As kick off approached, we would see just how good we are away from home, with 2 wins already, it was hoped we could take that form into the stern test Nottingham Forest would be. The game was a very scrappy affair right from the get go, neither team could keep hold of the ball, especially in that final third, both teams strikers had no support when the ball was sent their way, when support did arrive for Cole, it was from Faubert or Taylor, which resulted in West Hams midfield losing width and it's shape. As the first half progressed, Forest looked much more dangerous, keeping the ball in our half and trying to calve out chances, McGugan blasting over a couple of times, then also being miraculously beaten by Green when he saved with his right foot, Findlay also came close for Forest, seeing his shot go just wide of the post, if it wasn't for these wasteful chances and a superb Green, the scoreline could have been very different. West Ham then finally carved out there first goal, the ball was knocked out wide to Taylor who drilled a low cross across the six yard box, which Luke Chambers, the unfortunate Forest defender sliced into the back of his net. West Ham benefiting from yet another own goal.

West Ham then saw there second goal come quickly after from a quick corner delivered towards the far end of the area which Tomkins headed back into the middle for Nolan to redirect the ball into the back of the net and West Ham were 2-0 up. This didn't stop Forest though who kept attacking and causing problems for the United back line, but again Forest just kept wasting good chances. A major problem for Nottingham Forest by the looks of it this season.

Just after the half hour mark Forest were truly punished for there poor finishing when a Taylor corner missed everyone and O'Brien picked up the ball outside the box and crossed a lovely ball back into the area which the tall No 9 of Cole rose to head home and score his third goal in as many games, a promising return so far from a striker West Ham are use to seeing miss his oppurtunities.

The second half saw Forest use all their subs by the 65 minute mark, with the away side still yet to use theirs, but it seemed Forest had lost a bit of hope in the second half, giving West Ham much more time on the ball and letting our midfield knock it around for fun, although the introduction of Andy Reid, a Forest favourite seemed to kick start Forest back into life. Forest managed to create a lovely passing move which was finished with Findlay slotting home from close range and seeing the score set to 3-1 by the 70th minute, had this goal came much earlier, Forest may have pushed themselves back into the match, but it definitely seemed too little too late for the home side, especially when West Ham won another corner which was poorly cleared by the Forest back line and the ball landed straight back to Taylor who crossed the ball in and it was missed by everyone apart from Winston Reid who tapped home to make it 4-1, scoring his first goal for West Ham in his career and topping off a good performance from himself.

In all honesty, the scoreline flattered West Ham and didn't do Forest any justice, who could have quite easily scored 2 or 3, had lady luck shone on them. Our defence once more was superb and McCartney now playing on the left gave a much more convincing performance than Ilunga has in a long time for us. Our midfield in the first half seemed sloppy, there wasn't much shape at times and they just couldn't dominate possesion as you'd expect they can do, but again from set pieces we were very dangerous and made this pay and having natural wide midfielders is proving to be pivotal to our success with the two own goals it's caused to help us. I am hoping with the introduction of new signings Sam Baldock and Brian Montenegro could prove to help us play 4-4-2 at home, as we don't seem to create enough at Upton Park and that could be the reason why, 4-5-1 away from home seems to be working perfectly, with our team using a solid back line as the foundation and trying to be much more counter attacking with the ball. 9 goals scored and 9 points gained away from home is a lovely stat to have so far and this can only help in our chase for promotion. If the squad can keep organised and create more at Upton Park we could yet see ourselves as the toughest team to play against in the Championship.

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