David Hautzig's Match Report
I may not like golf, and I don’t, but I’ve heard of golf handicaps and I have a basic idea of what they are. If a player isn’t as good as others in his group, they can still compete on somewhat equal terms. Everton are lucky these rules don’t apply to football, because if they did West Ham would probably be allowed to start any match against them with at least 1-0 lead. Maybe 2-0 when you combine how rarely we beat them with how often Lukaku scores against us. Well, Lukaku did score.
And he should have had a brace.
And our passing was poor, if not worse.
And Emineke, admittedly all alone up there the first half, had to have set some kind of record for being called offside in a single half.
And yet another curse has been lifted on what is already the most exciting season I’ve ever had as a West Ham supporter.
The first half was largely one I wish I hadn’t had to watch, and see no reason to remember. Heck, I could make a solid argument not to even report on it. But I will, kind of. As early as the 4th minute Everton had West Ham penned into their own area, with a legitimate shout for a penalty when Oxford pulled down Stones in the area during an Everton corner.
West Ham had their first sniff at goal in the 11th minute, and as usual it was Payet. The Hammer Of The Year in waiting was allowed to gather the ball near the center circle and embark on a run straight down the middle. When Jagielka backed off, Payet let go of a low shot that looked headed for the bottom corner but rolled wide.
If I were a multi billionaire I’d buy a team, any team, and purchase Lukaku for whatever Everton wanted. Then I’d pay him a million quid per week to do whatever he wanted. Even if that included sitting on the beach all day. Just to get him away from us. After receiving a pass from Oviedo in the box, Lukaku spun around Oxford like he was more toddler than young man and fired a low shot past Adrian.
Everton 1, West Ham 0.
When Miralles was booked for diving in the 16th minute I thought the decision was harsh. Why would he have gone down on purpose in that part of the pitch? He’s a smarter player than that, I thought. But Twenty minutes later his brainpower was absolutely called into question when he recklessly and needlessly slid into Cresswell well after the ball had gone merrily on its way. Anthony Taylor had no choice but to show him a second yellow and a red, even though he took a very long time to do it.
The Hammers started to at least hang on to the ball more as the first half progressed but for all of their passing in and around the area, nothing concrete came of it until the 42nd minute when Lanzini fed Cresswell on an overlapping run. The West Ham left back then sent an inviting cross into the box, and this time Emineke timed his run well and flicked it on goal. A combination of luck and simply making himself big allowed Joel to make the stop. Moments later, Jagielka took down Payet just outside the box to give West Ham a free kick from an area we’ve seen Payet score from more than once this season. And if the goal had been twenty feet taller he would have scored again today.
Halftime. Everton 1, West Ham 0.
The second half began in much the same way as the first half ended. Pure frustration. Bilic tried to add some offense when he inserted Carroll for Oxford, the kind of attacker for defender switch when behind that always made sense to us, but not to certain former managers who shall no longer be named. Unless you want to actually call him Voldemort.
Payet won another free kick after a foul by Besic, but Antonio put his header wide despite a decent delivery. Kouyate made a key defensive stop by intercepting a ball that was destined for Lukaku running into the area. Even a man down Lukaku was waiting at our collective Claret & Blue shoulders, ready to make a run.
The game changed completely in the 56th minute. Well, for me it did. If you are superstitious. Which I am.
Lennon and Lukaku combined on a give and go right at the edge of the West Ham penalty area and Lennon split Cresswell and Kouyate to poke the ball behind a seemingly shocked Adrian.
Everton 2, West Ham 0.
I left my living room and walked into my kitchen. After some nice comments about my more free flowing report on Wednesday night, I figured the details of the final 34 minutes were no longer important. I needed to bake a loaf of bread, I have a TV in the kitchen, I was thoroughly annoyed, and I needed a distraction. When Everton were awarded a penalty in the 69th minute, I wasn’t even that bothered. Besic was very crafty with the ball and Song hadn’t learned his lesson from last year at Spuds to not poke your damned leg in from behind in the box.
The TV in the living room was still on, and oddly the sound from the two sets were around one second different, with the kitchen running behind. So I heard the announcer say Lukaku missed it while I was watching him run up to the ball. But if I told you I thought that was some cosmic sign I’d be lying. I just thought Lukaku would be angry he didn’t score his 19th.
Before CD’s, and way before MP3’s, there were records. I have always maintained that the second side of Abbey Road must be listened to in its entirety. Individual tracks not allowed. I believe that’s how the songs were written, that’s how the record was constructed, and that is how it must be played. Same here.
First, in the 78th minute Noble lofted a ball into the box. Antonio, who to be honest was not at his best today, got to it first and headed it past Joel. Three minutes later, Payet sent a cross into the box that Sakho got to before anybody else and sent the ball into the back of the net. Finally, just like the love we take being equal to the love we make, Antonio sent a ball into the box. Carroll flicked it to Sakho, who back-heeled it to Payet, who slotted it home.
Final Score. Everton 2, West Ham 3.
I was enjoying The Guardian Football Weekly Podcast yesterday while waiting for my kids to be done with school. Towards the end, Barry Glendenning said he thought Bilic was one of the few managers in the EPL that have created the kind of spirit among his players that can make the difference on a day like today. “You get the impression they would run through a wall for him” he said. The other presenters agreed and continued to offer praise to our leader. While this may be a stretch, fueled by the ecstasy of what we just experienced, but I think there are other things at work here that don’t usually get much attention in the big money, big testosterone world of sport.
Joy and fun.
Slaven Bilic, who by all accounts works his players hard, would rather go back to practicing law in Croatia than not have fun with football. And if he expects to have fun, then I’m pretty certain he wants his players to have fun and to play the game with joy. While Payet was running behind the goal after the winner, for some reason I watched Carroll running….no, galloping off the meet him. Smiles, hugs, laughter. All the endorphin making things that are soooooo often lost with players today. And have been missing for Hammer supporters for far too long. We’ve had more than a few false dawns in our recent history. These dreams, however, aren’t fading away.
Happy, happy days.