Monday, 26 December 2011

Away at Birmingham

This game has given many different views. So I thought I best do mine, I purposely left it a little while after, just so I could look back at it sensibly.

1st Half:

Well what can I say, we managed what we have so many times this season, straight out of the blocks putting Birmingham under pressure and it didn't long to pay off when come the third minute Carlton Cole uses his strength to pass the defence a power a left footed shot home into the bottom right corner, what a goal it was too and hopefully should silence his critics for a little while longer. The team kept up the pressure and we kept looking dangerous, especially out wide, Birmingham's full backs could not cope with the pace of Faubert and a few times he managed to get a dangerous ball into the box and it should have been 2-0 had it not been for an amazing save from Boaz Myhill to deny Cole his second of the game when he controlled a ball into his feet and on the turn fired at goal with great power, but the keeper was equal to it somehow. West Ham also had a decent penalty shout when a cross came in and Faubert threw his head towards the ball but didn't connect cleanly, the ball then landed right on Murphy's out stretched arm, I don't think anyone noticed it though as nobody really appealed for it. Whenever Birmingham got forward they didn't look much of a threat, struggling to find space with our defensive line holding strong and our midfield dropping to assist, every cross into the box Green gathered with most ease and it was a very good display from our keeper. Overall West Ham were unlucky to not be 2 or 3 up but that's football!

2nd Half:

This was a completely different game, Birmingham started to keep the ball and find plenty of space and you could tell this boosted their sides confidence as they probed for an equaliser, they seemed to win most 50-50 chances and not long into the half they brought on Zigic for Wood, who us Hammers remember very well for ruining our Carling Cup hopes, now here he was trying to ruin our day once more. The more pressure put on our side, the more it felt they panicked, the team start aimlessly kicking the ball towards Cole and it just wasn't working as the big man was isolated and unable to do anything too effective. We then picked up 4 yellow cards in dangerously quick succession, Nolan, Faubert and McCartney which leaves them out of the game away to Derby and also Noble who is now on his 4th of the season. Then the Birminghams pressure gave the home fans something to cheer, they finally got a goal from a set play and it would be no other than Murphy who could have handed us a gift in the first half. This really rattled West Ham and they kept kicking the ball long yet having no luck with it, we brought on Lansbury for picking who made a little change as he is confident on the ball, producing a good shot that Myhill was comfortable with and also causing another potential penalty when he challenged for the ball with Spector and the ball did hit his arm, but it may have been a harsh decision, the referee must have seen it though as he was very close and watching the action as could be seen from replays. It was tough to say who had more chances in this period, the ball seemed to just keep pinging between the two defences and no one really looked like they had the answer, the introduction of Carew for Cole made little difference as then it was Carew who looked isolated, Sears came on for Faubert towards the end and had a couple of nice runs but there wasn't much end product on our side.

In the end I think a point was very well earned, we had the first half won, Birmingham the second and considering Birmingham have not lost at home, it was a good point to take and our away record still looks good. I think the one issue I saw was our team struggled with long balls as they often ended up going to the other team or leaving our front man stuck with nowhere to go, if we are to use them in tough situations then the side definitely need to work on it as it ended up putting more pressure on our side than the opposition. Or West Ham just need to try and play it simple in those difficult situations, which may also work!

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