West Ham Full House
• Hooiveld, 45'
West Ham 0
Tuesday, 18th October 2011
Match Report :
This was a nailbiter and no mistake!
Once again Lallana was missing and to be honest we could have done with his guile to unlock a pretty physical West Ham defence. Still, Hooiveld's headed goal from a corner taken by Fox, right on the stroke of half-time was enough for the win.
This was a landmark game in a number of ways. The gate of 32,152 was apparently the biggest Saints gate ever, if only by one person! On top of that, it continued the run of home wins. The large gate was a bit of a surprise, given the fact that it was a weekday and although West Ham are an ex-Premiership team, they are hardly a star draw. I think that this was probably a combination of factors including Saints being top of the Championship and some imaginative promotions by the club (very good to see), including the 'Game of Two Halves' golf event. Certainly it was nice to see the Corporate seats full for the first time in I don't know how long.
From the kick off West Ham showed their intent and that was not to play the sort of stylish football for which they have become renowned over the years, but to play the sort of football for which Sam Allardyce has become renowned - hoof the ball to the big man. In this case the tall Norwegian, John Carew, who came to West Ham from Aston Villa in the summer.
Saints responded by keeping the ball, although Almunia wasn't really tested that much to begin with. Still, if saints have the ball the other side cannot score.
The folly of Sam Allardyce starting with a player who is clearly not fit was shown up when Matt Taylor had to go off to a chorus of barracking from the Saints fans of the sort reserved for ex-Pompey players. It seems he had a recurrence of his injury and was then replaced by another ex-Pompey player, Frederic Piquionne. West Ham seemed to loose their way and although Davis still had to pull off a couple impressive saves, I don't think we were seriously under threat from then on.
Although Saints had the vast majority of possession, they did not seem to be doing much with it against the very physical West Ham defence. For a while Saints reminded me of the Liverpool sides of years ago, keeping the ball and constantly probing for an opening. Even when the ball was lost they simply worked hard to regain it as soon as possible.
Then, just at the most psychologically damaging time to score just before halftime, Saints had a corner and Fox sent across a peach of a cross which Jos Hooiveld met with a thumping header to make it 1-0.
I felt there was no way that the score would remain 1-0 and looked forward to an explosive second half.
There was a lot of action in the second half, but no further goals, although De Ridder, who had come on for Guly, did have the ball in the net, only to have it ruled offside. Saints continued to have the better of things, but it was Big Sam's tactics which were at fault and he was definitely out-thought by Nigel Adkins.
Almost the final act of the game could so nearly have turned into an equaliser as Davis dropped the ball, but somehow managed to fall onto the ball, before any West Ham player could react.
So, a very good result in front of an all time record crowd and Saints are now five points clear at the top of the table. Still, as I keep saying, there is a long, long way to go and maybe we should not pay too much attention to the league table until after Christmas.
It does look good at the moment though!
Referee : Deadman
26 Hooiveld Booked
10 Guly (De Ridder - 86' Booked )
18 Chaplow Booked (Harding - 74' )
22 Connolly (Cork - 82' )
33 De Ridder
02 Reid Booked
04 Nolan Booked
14 Taylor (Piquionne - 20' )
21 Diop (Noble - 66' )
07 Baldock Booked
11 Carew (O'Brien - 78' )