Talking Point

The Worm That Turned (us over again)

This always happens to us, just as we get confident and look like we have learnt from the old ways we manage to mess it up royally. Friday night was therefore a significant milestone. It wasn’t one so much what a load of rubbish as we didn’t give up and we didn’t ‘not try’, but it was a game where our current limitations were thoroughly exploited and certain things have become clearly significant and need to be addressed.

We’ve been proper mugged off!

A good starting point is to begin where Brighton’s preparations began, back early last week when Hughton sat them down and explained how to beat us. Hughton is a proper clever football diehard type of manager, he played for us of course and has managed a few clubs now including Birmingham and Norwich. Hughton himself would be the first one to explain that he makes a living out of shutting down and beating teams like us but the thing was it was all too predictable and we should have seen his tactics coming.

Now I wasn’t at Brighton’s training ground and my betting account suggests my psychic abilities do not exceed average for the population but clearly Hughton sat there and told them to press the three in midfield and don’t let them have anytime on the ball. He then would have told them to exploit the gaps left by our full backs pushing forward and then he would have told them to absolutely clatter as many of our key players as they could as soon as possible to soften them up for a Friday night TV battle clubs like Brighton are so used to.

Also quite typically when there’s a football match involving West Ham and another team why does the shrewd, footballing mastermind from Forest Gate always end up on the other side shafting us? I have got lots of respect for Hughton and Brighton but I was a bit disappointed in the studs first whack it mentality of the home side.

The Brighton players made their presence felt

Within a couple of minutes Yarmolenko had been clattered Sunday league style and was numbed, minutes later Obiang (who was clearly targeted and didn’t have time to think for most of the game) was also clattered. This set the tone for the game. Our midfield three couldn’t settle but due to Noble and Rice putting in tremendous effort we still managed to press for the first and last phases of the game and at times made Brighton look like they were hanging on against a better team. However, this was not the case for the main part of the match.

The goal itself was an error and in that sort of game it was a result defining error, one we are not supposed to make anymore. The goal was taken well but it should never have happened. Much has been spoken of Masuaku since, the general consensus is that he is only really playing because Cresswell is so poor but fundamentally we need to sort it out. Watching Shearer go into overdrive is just too much to bear, we have only conceded two in the last three but he was ready and waiting.

If that wasn’t enough the most worrying development of the match was the lack of impact from the bench. Antonio again was absolutely terrible, our performance stuttered when he was introduced. Perez also appeared to contribute very little and as impact subs they were just not up to the pace of the game.

Harvest Moony

It does seem perhaps that tactically Manuel and his side are still naïve. They still fall foul of clearly labelled banana skins and although there is a good deal more promise in the side now than six weeks ago it is now clear that this season will be a learning journey and may or may not lead to a multitude of fruitful harvests as time goes on. However, currently speaking, Pellegrini’s harvest festival is limited to three cans of lentils and a packet of angel delight as teams like Brighton and others act like Normans on horseback turning up to salt the fields and poleaxe our bumper crops.

By the time the international break is done and we face up against Spurs at Stratford the Indian Summer will be over and the dreadful cold will be upon us, maybe Carroll will be able to offer an option off the bench and warm us all up with a few well timed torpedo moves. Whatever happens, left hand side of defence omitting, I think the Brighton game was more of a blip in fortune and consistency rather than indicative of a systemic failing of the team. We will have more luck than that, we will be less naïve than that and we will face opponents far less well drilled than Brighton who can always make extra money as Khabib Nurmagomedov’s roadies such was their love for whacking people when they are not even looking.

The resurgence of Noble, continued austerity in defence and flashes of ability from some of the new signings means we may well avoid a winter of discontent and hit the second half of this campaign running. If Pellegrini can install as much savvy as he does creative brilliance we will be ready for everyone and ready to think as well as ready to play, but this is still a bit of an ‘if’ and it’s the if’s that get us every time.


The HamburgHammer Column

A Shock Of Seagulls - Hammers left with bird poo on their face

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Let me say this straight up: Seagulls are not my favourite animals, never have, never will. Which is weird because I should have got used to them from an early age as they were around me ever since I was a kid. They were around when my dad took us kids down the harbour district in Hamburg. They were around when we boarded the ferry on our way to our home from home in Denmark. And then there was an episode later on during a trip to Scotland when I was up in Oban (famous for its malt whisky and, weirdly enough, a local copy of the Colosseum in Rome called McCaig’s Tower), trying to have lunch, enjoying the views at the waterfront.
When I say trying it means I didn’t even get a bite of my freshly bought prawn-mayo sarnie because as soon as I had sat down at the pier I was attacked by one giant barsteward of a seagull, heading straight for my face, flapping its wings in my eyes – and the strategy, tried and tested on 101 shocked and dumb tourists worked a treat again: I dropped the sandwich, prawns and all, trying to fend off the seagull which eventually made a hasty exit to enjoy a free lunch.
And I had yet another reason to hate that particular species of bird.

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Then of course there’s another flock of seagulls, they play in blue and white and steal points from unsuspecting football teams. Our game down the south coast could best be described as floodlight robbery (as opposed to daylight robbery as it was dark already). To be fair, Brighton converted virtually their only goalscoring opportunity after Yarmolenko had cheaply lost the ball in midfield, a few quick seconds later the ball was in the net as the hosts grabbed that chance with both hands (or should that be feet ? Or wings even ?) while West Ham unfortunately couldn’t grasp any of their numerous opportunities on the day.

Brighton got on my nerves though with their time wasting antics. I know some may call this professional, other teams would do the same thing in that situation and so forth, but still I don’t like to see that, not from my team, not from any team, you know players handing over the ball to a teammate for a throw-in and then spending another 10 or 20 seconds choosing a target to throw to.

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Talking of throw-ins, it dawned on me in this particular game how wasteful we appear to be when it comes to throw-ins and freekicks. These should give us an advantage, however, more often than not our throw-ins do seem to end up at the opposition’s feet a lot and we had several good freekick opportunities which were disappointingly put well over the bar by the likes of Anderson and Arnautovic.

I suppose this goes to prove that even those multi-million £ players are human after all, but I still think that a PL player should be able to hit the target with a freekick from the edge of the box. We had so many decent chances that I still believed we might actually win the game even ten minutes from time.
It wasn’t that West Ham were particularly bad, we did enough in my opinion to win that game, but when even your talisman goalscorer misses from two yards out you just have to accept that this simply wasn’t our day.

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I didn’t enjoy the final result and this wasn’t a complete team performance like the ones we had seen in previous games, but I still saw enough to give me hope.
I reckon Brighton were riding their luck on Friday and they are probably still wondering now how in God’s name they managed to pull this off while West Ham are probably still cursing their luck. With yet another international break coming up (they really suck, don’t they ?) our players will just have to continue to gel on the training pitch first and in games after that.

Dare I say it ? As far as defeats go, at least this was an entertaining one. Utterly frustrating of course, but entertaining nonetheless. It wasn’t the kind of defeat that left me in fear of our upcoming games. On the contrary it made me eager to see more games, to see how this team will continue to come together, to develop, to improve (hopefully) and to build a solid foundation upon which to build even further. Not all players that did play against Brighton may be part of the long-term journey but I hope and pray Declan Rice will be one for the Hammers’ faithful to enjoy for a long time.

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Whenever I see the lad making one good decision after another out there on the pitch during games and then remember he is still only 19 years of age my imagination goes AWOL, contemplating how good he may become three or four years down the line. It is a joy to behold, watching someone do his thing who was quite clearly born to be a footballer. Nice to see him (still) do it in a claret and blue shirt. COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Hamburg SV won an incredibly important away game 2:1 at Darmstadt to put them back into an automatic promotion spot.
St.Pauli won their home game 3:1 on Sunday and are back among the pack chasing for promotion.
The Concordia first team played out an absolute nail-biter of a contest on Friday evening, a real advertisement for lower league football, by coming back from 0:2 and 1:3 deficits to draw the game 3:3 under the lights. Cheeky equaliser from Cordi’s top goalscorer, Benjamin Bambur, one minute from time, when the opposing goalkeeper was dropping the ball down at his feet after a save, preparing to kick it upfield, looking down the pitch where to direct the ball, without realising that the Cordi striker was still lurking behind his back. Bambur nicked the ball from the feet of the surprised goalie, took two or three sideway steps to the left and dispatched the ball in the bottom right corner. Despite protests from the hosts, the referee allowed the goal to stand, so this ended up being a draw that very much felt like a win. A performance full of cojones and never-say-die attitude by the Cordi lads!
Same applies to the U23s who have stopped a run of bad results by finally winning again, 6:0 at home. Promotion still looks like a massive ask for the youngsters this season.
The Concordia women’s team won again, 5:0 away, they are well on their way towards promotion to the next level.


Match Thread

Match Thread: Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham

Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham
FA Premier League
Amex Stadium
KO 8pm
TV Sky Sports
Radio: BBC 5 LIVE

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Brighton v West Ham

Blast from the past

Today’s blast from the past features a 1-0 victory at the AMEX Stadium against tonight’s opponents, Brighton. It arrived almost seven years ago, on the 24th October 2011 in front of 20,686 spectators. Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi had been killed four days previously, ‘We Found Love’ by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris was number one and Paranormal Activity 3 topped the UK box office.

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29-year-old skipper Kevin Nolan (pictured) scored the only goal of the game as the Hammers ran out 1-0 winners, dispossessing Liam Bridcutt in the 17th minute before firing a curling strike from 25 yards beyond his former Newcastle team-mate Steve Harper in the Brighton goal. It was Nolan’s fourth goal in 14 games since making his debut in August 2011; he went on to score 13 goals in 46 matches in 2011/12 and bagged 31 goals in 157 appearances in his Hammers career. My video below shows Nolan’s goal from this game.

Sam Allardyce’s Hammers ended the 2011/12 season third in the Championship but were promoted to the Premier League via the Play-Offs; Carlton Cole finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 15 goals in 43 matches. Gus Poyet’s Brighton were to finish tenth. Reading topped the Championship, Manchester City won the Premier League title and Chelsea won the FA Cup.

Brighton and Hove Albion: Steve Harper, Lewis Dunk, Gonzalo Jara, Gordon Greer, Marcos Painter, Liam Bridcutt, Matt Sparrow (Will Buckley), Gary Dicker (Ryan Harley), Craig Noone, Craig Mackail-Smith, Ashley Barnes (Will Hoskins).

West Ham United: Manuel Almunia, Joey O’Brien, Abdoulaye Faye, Winston Reid, George McCartney, Mark Noble, Papa Bouba Diop (Freddie Sears), Julien Faubert (Sam Baldock), Kevin Nolan, Jack Collison, John Carew (Frederic Piquionne).

Club Connections

Brighton manager Chris Hughton welcomes his former club to the AMEX Stadium. Other players who have appeared for both clubs include:

Goalkeeper: Harry Medhurst.

Defenders: Len Young, Dennis Burnett, Mauricio Taricco, Matthew Upson, Keith McPherson, William Kelly and Wayne Bridge.

Midfielders: Sebastien Carole, Bertie Lutton, John Payne, George Parris and Tony Stokes.

Strikers: Brian Dear, Paul Kitson, Tommy Dixon, Justin Fashanu, Sam Baldock, Greg Campbell, Sam Jennings, Sam Small, Herbert Lyon, Bobby Zamora, Dave Sexton and Mike Small.

In addition, Alan Curbishley played for both clubs and managed West Ham. Ex-Hammers Archie Macaulay and Liam Brady have managed Brighton.

This week’s focus though is on a player who spent a season with the Hammers before joining the Seagulls. Tommy McAteer was born in the miners’ houses at Smithstone Row near Croy in North Lanarkshire, Scotland on 30th March 1876. Sport played an important part in the lives of the people of Croy and Smithstone and their football teams, Smithstone Albion and Smithstone Hibernian, were regularly at the top of any football competition in which they competed. Tommy McAteer played junior football with Kilsyth Wanderers and Smithstone Hibernian before turning professional with First Division Bolton in 1898. He played for the Wanderers for four seasons, experiencing both relegation and promotion, before moving to London with West Ham United.

A big, strong and hard-working centre-half who was also a free-kick specialist, the 26-year-old McAteer (pictured) was one of eight debutants under Syd King in a 1-1 home draw with Reading on 6th September 1902, the opening day of the Southern League First Division season. He made 13 appearances in 1902/03 – eleven of these appearances came before Christmas 1902, with the last of these pre-Christmas matches being a 6-0 defeat in the reverse fixture to McAteer’s debut, at Reading. After four months out of the side, McAteer made his return in the unfamiliar position of outside-right but fortune continued to hide as the Irons were again beaten 6-0, this time at Southampton. McAteer’s 13th and final appearance for West Ham United was a 4-0 defeat at Luton on 18th April 1903. The Hammers would end McAteer’s sole season in east London in tenth position – he was described by contemporaries as “a big strapping fellow who brought a big reputation from Burnden Park but it never materialised at the Memorial Grounds”.

McAteer moved to Brighton for the 1903/04 season – he was appointed captain and played in every match but one during the campaign, making 33 appearances and scoring one goal for the Seagulls. McAteer’s Brighton beat the Hammers 3-2 on the south coast but his return trips to east London against his old side proved less fruitful as the Hammers triumphed 5-0 in the league and 4-0 in the FA Cup.

McAteer returned to Scotland in May 1904, signing for Dundee. He joined Carlisle in 1905, moved to Clyde on loan for the 1906/07 season before returning to captain Carlisle. He joined Clyde permanently in February 1908, where he was again named captain. McAteer’s Clyde beat both Rangers and Celtic en route to the 1910 Scottish Cup Final but lost in a second replay to his former club Dundee.

At the end of the 1909/10 season, the 34-year-old McAteer signed for Celtic. He scored a late goal, described as “a screamer”, in the 1911 Scottish Cup Final replay to clinch a 2-0 win over Hamilton and earn his first and only winners’ medal in professional football. His performances earned him a place in the Home Scots team that faced the Anglo-Scots in an international trial in March 1911, but no call-up to the senior squad ensued.

In 1912, McAteer briefly played for Wishaw Thistle before returning to league football on a part-time basis with Albion Rovers and Abercorn. Living back in Croy, he eventually had to leave football behind and went back to the pits. McAteer was apparently terrified of being underground and managed to get surface work. When the First World War broke out in August 1914, McAteer quickly enlisted into the Army and found himself soldiering with the 3rd Bn. Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. He was badly wounded in 1915.

After the war, McAteer went back to surface work at the pits, living with his wife Mary, with whom he had several children. Tommy McAteer died in Kilsyth, Stirlingshire, on 20th September 1959, aged 83.

Referee

Friday’s referee is Kevin Friend. The Leicester-based official has been involved in top-flight matches since 2009 and took charge of the Hammers in our historic 3-0 victory at Liverpool in August 2015. He sent off Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and West Ham’s Mark Noble in that match at Anfield, with the latter’s dismissal rescinded on appeal. Friend’s Hammers appointments last season were in September 2017 for our 2-0 home win over Huddersfield, our 1-0 League Cup quarter-final defeat at Arsenal in December and, most recently, our 1-1 draw at Chelsea in April.

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Friend also refereed our 1-0 home win over Swansea in April 2017. He is also remembered for the soft penalty he gifted Hull in our 1-0 defeat at the KC Stadium in September 2013 when Joey O’Brien was adjudged to have shoved Robbie Brady. Friend compounded the error by later denying the Irons a clear penalty when Jake Livermore handled in the area. Don’t expect much from Friend in the way of handball decisions – he also denied the Hammers a penalty in a match at Everton when Aaron Cresswell’s cross was handled by Seamus Coleman.

Possible line-ups

Brighton are likely to be without attacking midfielder Pascal Gross, but midfielder Dale Stephens and striker Florin Andone should be available. Jose Izquierdo, who scored two of his five goals last season against the Hammers, is pushing for a first start of this season. Brighton won both meetings between the two sides last season. The Seagulls have lost just one of their last 16 league matches in October (won seven, drawn eight).

West Ham United are without Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll. Chicharito is back in full training after overcoming glandular fever but is unlikely to be risked in this match. Marko Arnautovic has been directly involved in 21 goals in his last 26 Premier League appearances, scoring 15 and setting up six.

Possible Brighton XI: Ryan; Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Boog; Bissouma, Propper, Stephens; Knockaert, Izquierdo; Locadia.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice, Obiang, Noble; Yarmolenko, Arnautovic, Anderson.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

Follow @dan_coker on twitter.


Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Brighton

This weekend West Ham travel to Brighton to kick off the weekend early on Friday evening. Buoyed by that great victory against Man Utd we will be hoping to continue our current run of good form and win successive league games for the first time this season. Ahead of the fixture I had a chat with Scott McCarthy from WeAreBrighton to discuss the game and the season so far.

Congratulations on staying in the Premier League last year. How did you rate last year’s season? What were the particular highlights?
The aim of the game last season was survival and in the end we managed that with something to spare. It wasn’t a particularly good campaign to be an Albion fan on the road as we only won twice away and only scored 10 goals – I won’t remind you of where one of those wins and three of those goals came – but at home we were largely brilliant. Beating Arsenal was a highlight as that was our first victory over top 10 opposition but the best day was easily defeating Manchester United to stay in the Premier League. When you were a kid growing up in Sussex and Brighton were fighting relegation to the Conference, 80% of the other kids in your class were United fans and would torment you for supporting such rubbish. So to defeat them to confirm our place in the Premier League for the following season was very sweet indeed.

Agreed, there really is not too much better. You’ve had a mixed start to the season, although like us you have managed to dispatch Man United again, you’ve had a few defeats and a couple of draws. How to you sum up your season so far?
It’s been a frustrating start although the fixture list hasn’t been kind. We’ve played all of last seasons top four in our first seven games which was always going to be a difficult ask, so to have five points is probably about where we should be. The “winnable” games have been a disappointed though. We went to Watford on the opening day and were dire and against Fulham and Southampton, we gifted the opposition two goal leads before coming back. The game at St Mary’s was particularly galling. Chris Hughton went there and set up with 10 men behind the ball to try and defend our way to a draw, which invited wave after wave of pressure. That allowed Southampton to go 2-0 ahead. Hughton belatedly threw on some of our expensively-acquired forwards for the final 30 minutes and the result was we absolutely battered the Saints and scored twice to rescue a draw. Had we have set out to win the game from the start, then it could have been a very different story.

Last season you finished 15th with 40 points: notoriously the second season back in the Premier League is harder (though I must admit haven’t looked at the actual stats) what does Brighton have to do this season to maintain your Premier League status?
We need to be better away. It’s as simple as that. I’ve already mentioned our terrible away record and I don’t feel comfortable relying on us being that good at the Amex again this season. As a result, we need more points on the road. We all saw what Burnley did last season when the combined the brilliant home form of their first Premier League campaign with an improved away record. Now, I think you’d need to sniff some serious glue to suggest we can “do a Burnley”, but it’s a model we need to try and copy in terms of being more proactive on the road.

How do you feel you invested during the summer? Who are the new players that are delighting the fans at the Amex?
All of our signings have been a bit of a gamble to be honest, but that’s always the case with the Albion. Our record buy was Alireza Jahanbakhsh for £16m from AZ Alkmaar and as is always the case when buying from the Netherlands, your never really sure whether your getting a Luis Suarez or a Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Yves Bissouma is a young but raw central midfielder who loves to try and get on the front foot, Martin Montoya at right back has relieved some of the pressure on Bruno who is 37 now and we’ve signed a couple of back up defenders in Leon Balogun and Bernardo as well. Hughton is always notoriously careful when it comes to throwing in too many new signings and Montoya is really the only one who has been a regular so far although Bissouma has played a fair bit recently because of Pascal Gross’ injury. Jose Izquierdo wasn’t starting games until after the October international break last season and I’ll think we’ll have more of an idea of how well we have invested by the end of this month.

Chris Hughton is the archetypal ‘_One game at a time_’ manager, are you happy with his record at Brighton?
His record speaks for itself. We were staring League One at the face when he took over four years ago and now we are in our second season in the Premier League. His ultra-conservatism can be frustrating at times, as can the fact he refuses point blank to make any substitutions before the 70 minute mark most weeks. But he’s a superb manager and a great bloke. If we were to be relegated, I suspect the Albion would stick with him because I don’t think you are going to find a manager more equipped to take you back out of the Championship.

What do you think of the appointment of Manuel Pelligrini as West Ham manager? Is he going to be able to lift us to the next step, which I suppose is regular top 8 to 10?
I actually thought David Moyes was a bit harshly treated after keeping you up last season and did wonder whether Pelligrini would be the right man to have n what will presumably be a battle against relegation, as it is for most of us outside the top six. He didn’t start particularly well but I think when you sign the number of players West Ham have and appoint a new boss as well, it’s always going to take a bit of time to gel. On the basis of the last few weeks, I don’t see why the top 10 is out of reach. There are seven or eight clubs who could all have designs on finishing just behind the European spots and West Ham are definitely one of them. I’d like to think we might have a shot as well.

If you could have any West Ham player(s) in your team, who would it be and why?
The fact that we are pretty much solely reliant for our Premier League goals on a bloke who is now eligible for veterans football who we signed from Rochdale over a decade ago is a bit of a concern. Glenn Murray isn’t going to go on forever and every single striker we’ve signed to try and replace him hasn’t worked out for one reason or another. For that reason, I’d take Marko Arnautovic.

Conversely which of your players do you wish were playing for us?
You can have Jurgen Locadia in exchange. We paid £15m for him from PSV Eindhoven in January but he’s only scored on league goal since then. Recent highlights include him falling over his own leg when put through on goal at Southampton and managing to put the ball into orbit when presented with a chance my grandmother could score at AFC Wimbledon in pre-season.

Can anyone stop Manchester City winning the league this year? Who are your picks for the top 4?
It’s going to be close between City and Liverpool but I think that City will do it again. As for the top four, City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs. Arsenal are going to be better under Unai Emery but have quite a gap to bridge and Manchester United have become a circus with all this Jose Mourinho-Paul Pogba nonsense.

Which three teams are your favourites for relegation at this early stage of the season?
Cardiff look dire and Huddersfield are the sort of side who gave everything to survive last season which makes the motivation to do in the second year slightly less. Those two look nailed on. Then there is a clutch of clubs who could fill the third spot. If you’d asked me at the start of the season, I’d have said Burnley because their squad wasn’t up to the demands of Thursday-Sunday football, but getting knocked out of the Europa League before the group stage should save them. Newcastle stayed up last year purely because they have one of the best managers in the division and if Rafa the Gaffer walked, I could see them plummeting like a stone.

How will Brighton line up against West Ham on Friday evening? Team/formation?
Hughton won’t make too many – if any – changes. It will be 4-4-1-1 with the normal suspects playing. The only question marks will be over the fitness of Dale Stephens and Gross. If both of those are fit, they’ll walk back into the starting line up. I’d also like to see Izquierdo given a start. He’s only got one substitutes appearance under his belt so far after coming back from Colombia’s World Cup campaign injured, but for some reason he seemed to absolutely love playing against West Ham last year. Let’s see if he can do it again

Are you confident you can beat us? Prediction for the score?
I don’t think it will be anything like last season! You were terrible on the two occasions we played each other while we put in two of our best performances of the season. I’m going for an entertaining 2-2 draw.

Well thanks again to Scott for his time. I think that we will be chomping at the bit to get out onto the pitch again, I’m going for a 1 – 3 win for us. With Felipe Anderson scoring again. COYI

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