Oh Lord, I've never felt so low
Oh Lord, where did the feeling go...
Well, not really, as I'm like most of us in having gone beyond dissatisfaction and disappointment several weeks ago and, to be fair, having watched a game that neutrals would probably have thought well worth the entrance fee I feel less upset than usual. 2-2 against a nowt-awa West Ham might not have been the result we needed, but after the points and goal drought of recent weeks/months, goals and a bit of excitement were a welcome change. Easily pleased or what?
If the 'Appy 'Ammers think things in their spiritual home of the east end (as portrayed in a popular, but eternally miserable, TV series) are a tad gloomy, they should spend a little time on Wearside. They apparently reckon their club matches ours insofar as the loyal fans have been dumped on by the board making daft decisions, and while I'd agree we've suffered in that department, I'm not so sure they have - to anything like the same extent. Of course, I'm making my judgement from 250 miles from the Olympic Park, which I must admit their club made an arse of moving into - and the actions of some of their fans in and around their new home haven't helped me feel sorry for them in any way, shape, or form. In fact, I don't feel any sort of sympathy for any club above us in the league. All nineteen of them. Which is why, for the rest of the season, I'm wishing a pox on every other team in the Prem, praying for points deductions, injuries (not serious, but enough to keep a player out for the remainder of the campaign), illness (see previous comment), and the loss of essential equipment such as boots and shorts.
Not too much to ask, is it?
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan, to see a win for Sunderland - if I could have a wish, man?
Of course, when you're in the clarts, things seem to conspire to go against you, although mebbe the press will lay of Moyes now that he's handed out his Easter Eggs at the press conference. Everybody wants to have a kick, from the ref who gave the red card, to the committee who decided Seb did indeed have murderous intent when he tickled the ball away from the baby-faced soft git Herrera and, as capital punishment is beyond even their remit in dishing out punishment, the ban must stand. As one door closes, another opens with the return from injury of Pienaar (look, we need all the fit players we can muster, whatever we think of them. It's the only squad we've got) and Big Vic thinks that will help his game, as will us "not being naïve." If only it were that simple - a bit like hoping that Manquillo makes it through the night in one piece in the wake of the announcement that Oviedo will miss a month.
Jones O'Shea Denayer Manquillo
Catts Ndong Khazri Gibson
Wowza - a positive selection, or too little too late? Statistically it's not too late
A frantic start saw us, via Khazri, attack the south end and the clearance saw Catts booked on 30 seconds, but Pickford beat out the free kick. Anichebe looked to have been clipped when we countered, but we got nowt and when they came down their right, Carroll miscontrolled the deep cross and it bobbled perfectly as Denayer lost Ayew for them to tuck it past Pickford. You can't defend like that and expect to get away with it. Less than 5 gone, and the impressive, if indecipherable, visiting contingent had a proper knees-up.
Khazri had a chance to create something from 25, and his nicely delivered free was headed on target but saved, then Defoe latched on to O'Shea's through ball and seemed to be pushed over on the edge of the box - no foul, apparently. When Khazri got away down the left, he won a corner - which he curled in. In off the woodwork, 1-1, 25 minutes. Memories of Wilf Rostron at Mansfield forty years ago. We've scored a goal, we've scored a goal. We've scored a goal we've scored a goal, we've scored a goal.
Jones pulled a left footer wide, mr Marriner continued to frustrate with some iffy decisions, and West Ham fluffed a sitter, putting the ball over from two yards. Thanks for that. Good work by Defoe set Jones who won a corner. The wrong side for Wabi to score, and we had to go via Pickford to win another, which was cleared.
Catts was splattered but even after playing on, there was no card. Another Wabi corner was cleared on 44, and we were looking lively as a single added minute was announced. Defoe worked well to set up Vic, whose low shot was saved. We decided over our Bovril that Catts should be replaced just to save Marriner sending him off yet again. There's not supposed to be vendettas between players and refs, but this bugger has certainly got it in for Catts. While I'm having a whine, how can Anichebe be pushed over and it not be a foul when the same challenge in Carroll is? At least Hull and Swanse were losing.
Catts was still there as it restarted, so Moyes was obviously up for a gamble. Within a minute, they'd won a corner on the right and it was eventually put in by Collins at the back post. Oh haway man, giz a break.
Gibson's through ball was only a yard too far in front of Defoe and Randolph was down on it, and the two quick corners that followed brought no joy. Even when Vic headed on to Defoe, he missed the return ball - lots of effort but no end product. A perfect example was when, on 55, Ndong played it from left to right and we tried to get it to the well-marked Defoe when Wabi and Jones were free in box on the right. AAAGH.
As the hour passed, Vic did well to chase back and clear, but collapsed when he got to halfway. Thankfully he got up. Catts played a peach to Defoe in the box, but Jermain was crowded out, then the ref went all daft and booked a Hammer for a foul on Vic. Wabi fizzed tge free onto the roof of the net, then then Ndong put a sitter over the top when it was surely easier to hit the target, although defenders were arriving and he had to hit it quickly. We were crying out for Vic to move inside and give Collins and company more to worry about, but change of that sort appears to be off the agenda for Dithering Dave. Haway man, last fifteen, dee something!
Another great chance ended with a corner that we failed to convert, and that prompted Moyes to replace Catts with the tough-tackling Januzaj.
Jones was sent through on the overlap, was flattened by what looked like elbow to the face and had to be treated as Marriner refused to acknowledge a foul had been committed. I'm sick of moaning about refs, but this one is something else - and he's being paid handsomely for being poor. On came the stretcher, off went poor Billy after a lengthy lie down and with his legs strapped together, on came Borini, and we had ten minutes or so to save the world- mind, I think Flash Gordon and the Guardians of the Universe would have his work cut out here.
A minute later, we really went for it by replacing a fairly attacking fullback, Manquillo, with Kone, and as we were moaning about that, Randolph lost the ball under Defoe's challenge and Fabio blasted it in with just about his first touch. Ten added minutes were announced, and there was real hope. A second yellow for Bryam for tripping Januzaj got the crowd even more fired up.
Kone spent a while up front, Wabi put a free over the top, Vic went to the right, cut inside and fired a foot wide of the near post, and it was all over.
A fairly breathless encounter, and it has to be admitted that it was fairly exciting if lacking in real quality. A point's a point- for all the goid it will do us.
Man of the Match? Khazri, as he had life and brought a new dimension to our game. Several months late, obviously, but there you go. Mind, Gibson had a fine, if less spectacular afternoon, keeping his position and doing the simple things right most of the time.
Keep the Faith, it won't do you any harm. Honest.
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