Monday, September 18, 2006

The first of many?

West Ham Utd 0 - 2 Newcastle Utd

Two goals from new boys Damien Duff and Obafemi Martins ensured our first away win of the season on Sunday at Upton Park. Outshining the Hammers' two Argentinean acquisitions, neither of whom lasted the whole game, both Duff and Martins worked hard, and showed real signs of class as they helped Glenn Roeder to enjoy a satisfying return to his one-time home.

He may have been taunted by the home fans at times, and things turned a bit ugly when Roeder waved to acknowledge the travelling support and contrived to upset the locals, who presumably thought that a visiting manager acknowledging his supporters was, in some way, gleefully highlighting the inadequacies of the home team.

The lull, in which Roeder chose to acknowledge the chants, only came about because alleged summer target Marlon Harewood had clattered Shay Given, forcing the Irishman to leave the pitch with a stomach injury (which necessitated an overnight stay in hospital, and surgery on a slight tear to his stomach).

However, neither the injury to Shay (which saw Steve Harper come off the bench to replace him) or the angry reaction of the home fans should take the gloss off what was a fine Newcastle performance.

A promising first half, in which West Ham saws Tevez hit the woodwork with a free kick and Bowyer hit a fifty yard lob wide with Shay beaten, were matched by a strong performance in which Ameobi and Martins both went close - our number nine also showing plenty of neat touches and work across the park.

Goalless at half time, we started the second half as we finished the first, and it was Martins who made a strong run towards the West Ham box, before slipping the ball to Duff for the Irishman to slot the ball past Roy Carroll in the West Ham goal.

Shortly later, Alan Pardew (having already removed Tevez at half time) took off Mascherano, bringing Yossi Benayoun on and shifting Bowyer into the middle of the park. By that stage, Emre and Parker had begun to assume control of the midfield, and their dominance grew as the match developed.

With the match moving in to the last quarter, Martins pounced on a mistake by Danny Gabbidon to add a second, and in doing so ensured we left with all three points.

On the plus side, both Martins and Duff are now off the mark, and going forward we looked a very danger prospect at times. However, the loss of Shay is a blow (no matter how able a deputy Steve Harper might be) and our back line looks short of cover, with Moore and Ramage the last two experienced centre halves currently fit enough to play. Still, it's a good back to back wins (and clean sheets) going in to our trip to Anfield on Wednesday.

Highlights: Toongoals

A West Ham fan's view: Hammered

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


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