West Ham Utd 2 Blackburn Rovers 2 (Blackburn win 10-9 on Penalties EFL Cup Third Round 9th November 2022

Hammers crash out of EFL Cup to Championship side Blackburn Rovers on penalties

Hope everyone is safe and well.

It takes quite a while to put these posts together as I look through the 900 plus images I take for each home match. Once I’ve done my first round of editing – deciding which images could help tell the story of the match – I have about 200 images to finally choose from. Then it’s about thinking what I want to show from the match and how best to illustrate any key points. This decision process takes time. The actual editing doesn’t take that much more as I’m familiar with Lightroom so my work load is not so bad.

Making decisions over time is a luxury really, but what we seem to have in the team at the moment  is too many situations where players are making the wrong decisions in real time. The action of the match can be fast paced at times with little room for error and even a split second delay can lead to the wrong decision and a wayward pass, forward move or cross that leads to a dead end. 

There have been too many instances where we have been in good positions to send in a telling cross, fire in a ball or make a forward pass that will put us into a goal scoring opportunity but us ‘experts’ jfrom the stands just see these opportunities fizzle out. So frustrating to watch every home game and our exit from the EFL Cup showed us again what these wrong decisions are costing us.

This result hurt for sure. After the last gasp defeat to the Eagles the previous weekend, we had hoped for a positive reaction and a chance to progress in EFL Cup, which we have never won.

Both managers decided to change their whole starting 11 for this match, Blackburn sitting second in the Championship after their 1-0 home win against Huddersfield and the Hammers dropping to 15th in Premier League – two teams with opposite forms clashing for a place in the Forth Round of the EFL Cup. 

The Hammers had enjoyed some solid home form prior to the weekend defeat to Crystal Palace, surely even with a changed side we could progress against Blackburn’s second 11?

Last season we held Man City, holders of the Cup over previous seasons, to a 0-0 draw at home, winning 5-3 on penalties to progress to Quarter Finals after defeating Man Utd in the Third Round, but this was not going to be repeated this season.

After progressing out of the group stages of the Europa Conference League there was expectation that we can do well and enjoy another cup under the lights. But 6 mins into the game Vale calmly scores to give voice to Blackburn’s fans, surely hoping for an upset.

We had to wait until 38th minute for Fornals to thump home an equaliser sending the Hammers players into the dressing room with hope of a comeback. The second half provided plenty of opportunities for the home side to take the lead, with Antonio, Benrahma – on for Coventry and Bowen waist of chances as we failed to breach the Blackburn defence. 

Then Antonio, firing from the edge of the box to send the ball into the net and give us a 2-1 lead. The London Stadium, with anxious fans without much to cheer about so far, roars with hope of a turnaround that would take us into the next round. 

Even with Scamacca on, the Hammers couldn’t find another goal that would surely end the match for Blackburn who were definitely not down and out yet. Bubbles again faded away as Chilean international Brereton Diaz sends a blasted shot past Areola on 88th min to earn penalties as the final whistle ended the match. 

I don’t know about you, but I had a bad feeling about this and wished we had Fabianski in goal – it was something fans around us were saying as the players lined up in the centre circle before the penalty shoot out started. And what a watch for the neutral. Penalty after penalty sending the back of the net rippling as neither goalkeeper could make a save. The longer it went on, the less likely I thought we would win it. 

With the score at 10-9 to Blackburn up steps Ogbonna with only the goalkeepers left to have a go and as soon as the ball left his foot hearts just stopped. Then, as if time had slowed and sped right up again, the ball strikes the bar goes up in the air and the Blackburn players and staff sprint onto the pitch in celebration. 

Those of us who remained to watch just slumped in despair, many turning on their heels to leave the stadium. I spoke to a few fans as we watched the Blackburn fans celebrate with their team and there was a lot of anger and mixed emotions. Many people I spoke to felt we now need to do well against Leicester or our season is looking likely to implode. 

Overreaction due to the emotions of going through such a frustrating game or hints of reality finally kicking in given the mixed form since the start of the season? Plenty of people have picked over this game and others to highlight issues we have as a team, but looking at this performance the lack of composure to put those many chances we had away is going to be our undoing. 

And we missed the chance to get our own back on Forest in the next round. Oh well. 

Hope you enjoy the photos of the match, despite the result.

Take care

Dawud 

West Ham Utd 1 Crystal Palace 2 6th November 2022

Olise sinks Hammers in a last gasp winner at London Stadium to end winning run

I hope everyone is safe and well.

Time. It’s either on your side or totally against you, you either have too much time or nowhere near enough. I seem to be suffering from the later at the moment with so much going on. We have some urgent work deadlines and I’ve had to make time to keep time otherwise I’m behind time! Phew! It seems I’m always chasing my tail as time slips away. It could be age or just not utilising my time effectively.

It seems to take quite some time to put these images together so I end up taking more time to post after the matches and with so many home matches recently it’s hard to keep on top – time, it seems is not on my side right now.

So to the last gasp winner by Olise that sank us at home against Crystal Palace, it seems we cannot run out the time of a game to get something out of the match. Antonio could have wasted time by taking the ball wide, trying to keep the ball by the corner flag or turn in and swing in a cross. Instead he chose to pass it to the keeper. In no time at all, Palace we’re on the attack and just before the ref called time Olise shoots and with Cresswell’s deflection bags the winner.

Time had run out on the team and the week ahead seemed to be affected by this poor result. When Morley said he fancied a 3-0 win for the Hammers in his pre match interview, some of us fans said we would be lucky to get a draw. Palace are playing some tidy attacking football and we are looking soft at the back on the counter.

Time – would it have been a different result if we have managed to have more time on the ball during the match? Retaining possession and frustrating Palace? A bit of time wasting at the end to see out the match for a draw? If only Antonio have given himself more time, maybe we could have earned a draw. No, time it seemed had gone too quickly as Palace made the most of the Hammers flat feet and took all three points right from under us after Benrahma put us ahead in the first half. He has benefitted from extended first team playing time.

But we know these results so well, Palace haven’t won away this season – cue an away win at London Stadium against a side on a winning streak at home. But you wouldn’t have thought it from the way we played, Benrahma put us in front on his 100th appearance for West Ham, but it was against the run of play. And without creating any clear chances to challenge Eagles keeper Vicente Guaiti except for Kehrer’s effort in the second half.

But we must raise the VAR issue again as Referee Paul Tierney points to the spot after Antonio goes down in the box after being brought down by Guaiti’s wayward arm. Set pieces and penalties were our speciality last season, so this could be our chance to get back in front. Cue VAR and Ref Tierney changes his decision. The more time he is looking at the screen you know it’s not going our way. Time – its either on your side or against you.

And we know what the outcome of these VAR decisions will be, time after time it seems we fall to a decision going against us despite the ref having initially awarded in our favour. We have discussed this before but it’s making quite an impact on the game and potentially the outcome of the match. Over time these decisions equal themselves out, we are told, but I’m not convinced and would love to see the stats on that.

After only 3 days after our Europa Conference League win against FCSB to secure our place in the next round, but with 11 changes to the team playing ahi’s t the Eagles, you cannot argue that there was not enough time between the matches. The first team to secure 100% record in the group stages and we looked disjointed and drained of confidence. My brother says ‘Look at the teams we played in the ECL though’ I argue winning builds confidence, whoever you play. Time, it seems, tells its own story as we hit a bump in the road and get beat in the last seconds of a match we could have won.

I hope you enjoy the photos from the match, despite the result and I’ll post the other two matches during the week.

Take care everyone

Dawud 

West Ham Utd 2 AFC Bournemouth 0 Monday 24th October 2022

Hammers climb to 10th in the table with 5th home win in all competitions

I hope this post finds everyone safe and well.

Summer feels like a distant memory despite the warm weather, as the nights close in early and the games have been coming thick and fast for the Hammers. It’s a bit like the half term holiday, before you blink you’re back to work and you feel like you have even had a rest. Particularly true for me given the amount of half jobs the builder left for us to do. Luckily I’m a bit handy with home DIY and have been filling, sanding and painting away through any spare time I’ve had. Back to work for a rest!

But no rest for the team after weekly Thursday games in the Europa Conference League and then players tying their laces again on the weekend, but this is what it’s like if we want to maintain our European tour. Now we have Monday’s match under our belts, then Thursday against Silkeborg and Man Utd on Sunday. A tough week with more to come in November. No wonder managers are complaining about the fixture list.

Do we have enough depth in the squad to cope with such a run on fixtures? So far so good with our European form starting to spread into the Premier League and a healthy mid table placing. Will this form carrying on so we can rise further up the League? Man Utd will certain be a litmus test on how well we are doing as a squad.

To the match and Bournemouth did not really provide a real test for the team. The worry though is the lack of goals from open play and it was Benni who bagged another goal through a penalty shout after a VAR review of a potential hand ball. Decisions, it seems, are going our way and provide evidence that overall across the season we get an even shout of calls for and against us. Someone must have the stats on that.

There was also some controversy about Kurt Zouma’s headed goal just before half time with the Cherries complaining that the ball touched Thilo Kehrer in the build up. Former Hammer, Gary O’Neil received a booking for challenging referee David Coote as the teams went off at half time. We know how it feels but after a review it was decided that Lehrer’s touch as accidental.

A good time to go 1-0 and it was a reflection of the match, with the Hammers dominating and the Cherries not really creating much to challenge Fabianski, although Solanke had his chance, but twisted his ankle and was substituted at half time.

Our dominance was rewarded, and so was Benrahma for his industry throughout the match, with a penalty that Beni put away to secure a 2-0 win and a much needed boost for the team going in to Thursdays match against Silkeborg to secure top spot in Group B.

Such a different feel around the club with more depth in the squad now we have our new signings featuring regularly and options on the bench to add attacking threat or defensive back up when we need to secure the result. We are definitely blowing those pretty bubbles in the air, let’s hope they keep flying high.

Enjoy the photos for the match

Take care

Dawud

West Ham United 2 Anderlecht 1 Europa Conference League Group B Thursday 13th October 2022

Hammers win against Anderlecht sends us through to knockout stages of Europa Conference League  

Hope everyone is safe and well.

A quick Marsh family update – we’ve been totally floored by the current flu bug doing the rounds – so I missed our home win against Fulham and added to that couldn’t get any commentary on the match until late in the game as I looked after Mrs Marsh and our boys. Then I got the aches and pains myself and as we both work with vulnerable people in our day jobs, a few COVID test kits later confirmed it was just the seasonal bug. Uuurgh! 

But I managed to pick myself up for our Europa Conference League home win against Anderlecht to continue our 100% record in this seasons group stage to all but guarantee we go through to the knockout stages as our European tour continues.

I felt we should have had this match comfortably under our belt by half time allowing for some careful substitutions as we closed the game out but that’s not the West Ham way and our injury concerns continue in defence with the loss of Angelo Ogbonna after only 22minutes and then his replacement Craig Dawson being substituted 15mins from the end of the match. With Nayef Aguerd still a little way off returning to the first team squad, our defensive woes continue.

We top group B on maximum points after a dominant first have that saw Said Benrahma’s well taken free kick settle the nerves on 14th minute. Benrahma is capable of flashes of excellence only to be balanced by moments of shear frustration that often sees good play wasted in a dead end or missed placed pass. But, he had the free kick perfectly struck as it had enough pace to beat the Anderlecht wall and go beyond Hendrik van Crombrugge into the net.

Our second came from Bowen on 30 minutes, his third European goal this season and 6th overall in Europe equaling the records of Johnny Byrne and David Cross and put the game beyond Anderlecht, who despite some well managed build up play, did not offer much af a threat going forward.

The second half played out against unpleasant scenes in the away end with Anderlecht fans setting off flares – which they did at the start of the match, throwing them along with seats over to the Hammers fans, who responded near the closes stages of the match. At times the pitch was covered in smoke from the flares and and you can only imagine the damage done to the away end of the stadium. How fans manage to get these into the ground is beyond me. I spoke to some of the police outside the ground after the match as I waited for the Anderlecht fans to be escorted away from the ground and they expressed their frustration that stewards don’t check bags thoroughly enough. 

Nothing in the news about those scenes but you can expect some consequences surely for such behaviour, especially with a spectator running onto the pitch. 

That is now 6 wins in 7 games in all competitions. We just now need to keep up this excellent form until the break for the World Cup that will see us in a healthy position in the Premier League and having reached the knockout stages of the Europa League. Who would have thought that at the start of the season?

Enjoy the photos from the game.

Take care

Dawud