David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 2, West Brom 1. Yeah. Winning Today Was Special Because...You Know.

The Predictor League for Doncaster Rovers is open. Enter your team HERE. Deadline is today at 1pm on Saturday afternoon.

Today was supposed to be a day of the FotMob app dinging with updates, and short snippets of satellite radio in my car in between customer appointments. But then a project with a deadline that required some immediate attention landed on my phone, and lo and behold I rescheduled my day and sat myself down in front of my Mac. That did allow me to put the game on my IPad, but 100% attention was not in the cards. So hopefully you will all get what you get and not get upset.

Big Sam teams are known for solid defending on set pieces. In the 8th minute, West Ham won a corner. The delivery from Cresswell was excellent, but Dawson put his header wide despite having time and space. Five minutes later it was Albion on the attack after West Ham lost possession. A long ball over the top…..duh, it’s a Sam team…. set Grosicki free behind the West Ham defense. But his control wasn’t good enough and he had to lay the ball back for Pereira, whose shot went high over the bar.

West Ham won a corner in the 22nd minute after some good footwork by Benrahma. He rolled a pass to Cresswell, who put the ball into the box where it met up with Coufal. His shot from inside the box deflected out for the set piece, but Johnstone punched it away from danger. Minutes later Cresswell ran towards the box and cut a pass back to Lanzini, but his shot lacked pace and floated harmlessly into Johnstone’s hands.

Midway through the first half, Tony Gale said that Albion were “beginning to make it horrible” for West Ham. Pressing, defending deep, and being physical enough to be an ice hockey team. But the Hammers had a chance to make life horrible for Sam in the 34th minute when Ajayi took down Antonio just outside the Albion box. But Lanzini’s attempt floated over the wall and hit the top of the net. Close, but no Cohiba.

Benrahma is in the side to do fancy stuff. Yes, he needs to track back and do at least some defensive work. But it’s his ability on the ball, to create an opportunity when none appears to be there, that will have West Ham fork over north of twenty million pounds this summer. In the 41st minute he did a bit of that and at least got off a good shot that Johnstone gathered up. But as the opening half wound down, he did it again and this time the end product was there. After some good footwork to the left of the Albion eighteen yard box, Benrahma sent the ball across to the other side for Coufal. The bargain of the season one timed the ball back in front of goal where Bowen was waiting to direct it into the back of the net.

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Halftime
West Ham 1
West Brom 0

The opening minutes of the second half showed Albion’s best passage of play of the evening to that point, but after being teed up by Pereira in the box Gallagher’s shot fizzled into the arms of Fabianski. But just moments later, West Ham conceded their first goal in over seven hours when Pereira struck the ball beautifully from twenty yards out to beat the West Ham keeper. VAR looked to see if Gallagher impeded Fabianski’s vision of the shot, and determined he had not.

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West Ham 1
West Brom 1

Albion did not rest after their equalizer, winning a corner in the 55th minute. Benrahma cleared, but there was a new purpose to Big Sam’s men. But West Ham came close to retaking the lead when Antonio laid a pass for Lanzini inside the Albion box. Lanzini shot from ten yards out, but O’Shea got in front of it for the block. Seconds later Rice tried a long shot that just went wide. Moments after that it was Rice again sliding the ball across the face of goal. It needed just a little nudge. It didn’t get it.

As the clock hit the 66th minute, Tony Gale said West Ham would be annoyed if they couldn’t win against a team in the bottom three at home. Perhaps the players felt something similar. Cresswell started the play with a good delivery into the box that Yarmolenko headed back to Antonio, who whipped the ball past Johnstone with his right foot.

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West Ham 2
West Brom 1

In the 73rd minute West Brom won a free kick…and my boss Alex called. I turned the volume down on my IPad, but admitted I had it on. No sense in making some nonsense up if I screamed when all he said was Cabernet, right? To his eternal credit, Alex even offered to enable my paranoia and superstition and stay on the line until the final whistle. As a New Orleans Saints fan, he was still hurting from the other night so it was a grand gesture on his part. It wasn’t needed.

Final Score
West Ham 2
West Brom 1

32 points. Thirty. Two. Points. We are winning the games we normally think we should win, and we are winning a few we normally think we will lose. As much as I loved the thrill of the final season at Upton Park, something about this season is more endearing. It feels like it’s being built on something, instead of riding that wave of emotion. And the magic feet of that guy who now plays for Marseilles. Whatever. There’s a solidity. A firmness. Maybe even a plan.

That would be different.


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 1, Burnley 0. Growing Without The Pain.

I’ve always wondered why Karen Brady (Brady Out!) has such an infatuation with Sean Dyche. During our most recent managerial searches today’s visiting gaffer was mentioned numerous times, along with the extra nugget that Lady Brady (Brady Out!) was a huge admirer. Who knew that vocal nodules could be such a lure? All kidding aside, Dyche should be lauded for the work he has done at Burnley. He may not play a free flowing brand of football, but his teams always put in the proverbial shift. Maybe with their new ownership in time we will see a different approach from that other team in Claret? I’d welcome that, because the current approach often leads to a very distasteful weekend for us. I was there for that momentous day in Stratford, and while it wasn’t January 6th in Washington it was notable in the history of our club. In our last six meetings with them, we have won once, drawn once, and lost four. To add to the angst, Moyes had never beaten a Dyche managed team in the EPL. In fact, only Mourinho and Guardiola have better records against Moyes than Dyche. But West Ham needed 28 games last season to reach 26 points, so the growth in our side is obvious. And continuing.

While the opening minutes didn’t offer up much of anything noteworthy, Burnley looked a little more lively than the Hammers. They moved the ball side to side, and had more space to play with. Dawson lost the ball near the top of the West Ham eighteen yard box in minute number seven, and Gudmunddsson jumped on it and tried a long range shot that Fabianski handled with relative ease.

So much has been made of Antonio’s value to our attack. Kind of like the need fish have for water. In the 10th minute, Bowen went on a good run into the box and rolled a pass to Fornals on the left. Say what you want about the young Spaniard and his uncanny ability to miss the target from a scoring position, but the lad can cross. He sent a ball over Mee and Tarkowski to Ant Man, who positioned himself in between the thirty million pound West Ham target and Pieters and calmly directed the ball into the net. Then he practiced his backstroke.

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West Ham 1
Burnley 0

Bowen created another half chance in the 18th minute when he won a corner off of Pieters after beating the defender inside the box. The set piece was quite good, and Ogbonna got to it but his header went wide.

Burnley had a good spell of possession midway through the first half, including a corner and a free kick from just outside the box after a foul on Brownhill by Cresswell. But the wall did it’s job, and Lowton’s rebound attempt went high over the bar for a goal kick. It looked like the goal had sent West Ham into early containment mode as opposed to pressing for a second. Burnley looked to have an equalizer in the 33rd minute after a Cresswell own goal, but Wood was flagged for offside. Still, the pitch looked to be tilted towards the West Ham goal.

The Hammers came so close to a second goal in the 36th minute when Bowen won West Ham a corner off of Pieters. The ensuing set piece whipped in to Rice, who flicked on to Ogbonna, but his header clanged off the post. Moments later Bowen had his pocket picked by Brady near the West Ham box. The Ireland international rolled a pass to Hammers killer Wood, but his long drive went wide. A few minutes later some errant passing by West Ham in the center of the pitch eventually saw the ball at the feet of Gudmundsson who again tried a long range shot, and again Fabianski made the save.

Halftime
West Ham 1
Burnley 0

West Ham started the second half on the front foot, winning a corner and forcing a goal line clearance by Mee after a Coufal cross set up an Antonio header. Moments later West Ham won a second corner when Antonio chased down a long ball and had his cross deflected out. The delivery was cleared despite Pope leaping for the ball and missing it. Antonio was then brought down just outside the Burnley penalty area, giving the Hammers a free kick. Rice went directly for goal it seemed, and it went over the bar.

West Ham had a great chance in the 60th minute to double their lead when Bowen beat Mee in the box, but his pass to Benrahma wasn’t good enough and Tarkowski intercepted. A few minutes later Benrahma sent Bowen on a run down the right, but when Antonio received a cross from the speedy winger he lost his footing and the shot went almost straight up in the air. Moments later a Benrahma pass into the box was deflected to Fornals, but his shot was blocked out for another West Ham corner. It was a good spell for the home side, but without an end product would it be looked back in vain?

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Bowen continued his outstanding day in the 69th minute when Rice launched him with a long ball over the top. He settled the ball with his chest and got off a right footed shot. For a millisecond I thought it was a goal, only to be deflated to see it was only the side netting. Seconds later a cross into the West Ham box found Mee, but his header went wide as well. A minute later Dawson made a potentially critical error when his attempted header back to Fabianski went out for a corner. The delivery was decent, but Lowton’s soft header went wide.

West Ham started to sit farther back, inviting pressure. Which is always a dangerous gambit. A cross from Brady to Rodriguez required intervention from Dawson. Seconds later a cross from McNeill glanced the crossbar on its own. But when given the chance, the Hammers broke with purpose. A long ball for Antonio was then rolled to Bowen, who won a corner after his shot was deflected out by Pieters. Moments later Rice had a chance with a header in the box, but the young captain got no power behind it and Pope cradled it in his arms.

West Ham had a heart in throat moment in the 85th minute when a Lowton ball into the box bounced off of Rodriguez and flew just wide of the West Ham net. Then Rice launched Yarmolenko on the right, but Mee slid in and blocked the right footed effort out for a corner. Burnley handled the set piece, and all eyes returned to the clock.

When the fourth official put up four minutes of added time, I was incredulous. I figured no more than two. Vydra, who I think was once a West Ham loan target, danced into the box in what I was sure would end in a penalty. Instead, Ogbonna cleared. Maybe it was Cresswell. Hard to mix them up, I know, but defending one goal leads is particularly unnerving for me.

In the dying seconds of added time, Yarmolenko did well to get the ball to Lanzini inside the box but instead of a Spurs style net shaker in was a high miss over the bar. Tick, tick, tick.

Final Score
West Ham 1
Burnley 0

This will be cliche, but damn. These are games we are sooooo used to making a mess of. George Bucci from Moore Than Just A Podcast messaged our WhatsApp group “Waiting for Robbie Brady’s 93rd minute equalizer” about midway through the second half. I wanted to kill him, mostly because I agreed. Yet we held on. The last time we had these many points this early in a season we finished 5th under ‘Arry. But where we are in the table isn’t what we should focus on, although it’s tempting. It’s where we are in Moyes development of us as a proper club. It’s as if he and his staff are teaching us what it takes and how it feels to behave that way. It might take some getting used to.

I can live with that.


David Hautzig's Match Report

Stockport County 0, West Ham 1. Still In The Hat.

Remember that great press conference Slav gave during his fine FA Cup run, where someone asked him what he would value more? Winning the FA Cup or qualifying for Champions League and he held up an imaginary cup with both hands? If the imagery of his hands didn’t answer the question, his grin and laugh certainly did. That press conference changed my priority as a supporter that year from Top Four to The Cup. And if VAR had been around there is more than a small probability that Manchester United would never have come back to Upton Park because that cheating jackass Schweinsteiger would have had his goal disallowed, he likely would have been booked, and we would moved on to the semi-finals. I cannot say that I still feel as strongly as I did that year, but my desire for a cup run has stayed intact. For now, it has.

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When you can see the rain clear as day over the TV, you know the conditions are awful. Despite the similarities with a water park, West Ham started reasonably well in terms of time on the ball. Rice found Benrahma inside the box with a cross, but after creating space his shot went wide. Minutes later Yarmolenko tried a long range shot that also rolled wide.

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Despite the expected majority of possession against a non-league side, after thirty minutes the Hammers didn’t have a shot on target. Chorley’s dismantling of Leeds over the weekend dispelled any notions that being lower or non-league automatically consigned a club to the scrap heap, and defensively Stockport County were giving it a go. Lanzini finally made Hinchliffe stop a shot in the 32nd minute, and a few minutes later he fed Antonio in the box, but his first touch failed him and Kitching was able to poke the ball away.

The first half wound down when Miniham chased down a deflection and won Stockport a corner. But his delivery went straight out and into the side netting.

Halftime
Stockport County 0
West Ham 0

First it was Alex. Then Amanda. Then Carl. Then a text from Chris and an order from Kara. The phone didn’t stop ringing from the opening kick of the second half, and the fact is as much as I love West Ham I do need to prioritize work and family. I had the TV on, and I paced the room talking while watching. But as it turned out, virtually nothing happened until the 84th minute when Bowen whipped in a decent cross that Dawson of all people got on the end of to head it in the back of the net.

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Final Score
Stockport County 0
West Ham 1

It wasn’t pretty. It was, in fact, rather filthy. The conditions were horrible. But nobody got hurt, Antonio got some match fitness, Dawson scored his first goal for anyone in Donkey’s years, and West Ham are still in the hat.

Nighty night.


David Hautzig's Match Report

Everton 0, West Ham 1. A Very Festive Result.

Well now. Bowen. Benrahma. Fornals. All with some pace and creativity. Lanzini on the bench provided cover for that trio if, or when, fresh legs were required. Those players had long been looked at as what is needed to find a way to unlock whatever it is that is inside Haller. Would we see that today? David Moyes certainly hoped so. Since he bid farewell to Goodson Park for the poison chalice of Old Trafford he had visited his old home four times, and lost four times. Everton had won four in a row, and the news right before kickoff that Randolph had to be called into emergency service when Fabianski got hurt in warmups added a bit more negativity to what would already be a somewhat pessimistic outlook. How different it looked two hours later.

West Ham showed good energy in the opening minutes of the match, with Benrahma and Fornals pressing and winning the ball high up the pitch on a couple of occasions. Fornals fed a cross into the box that missed Haller but Bowen got a glancing header on it that rolled wide. On the defensive side Dawson made a touch on a low cross into the box that Randolph smothered before it could go out for an Everton corner.

If, and I emphasize “if”, Moyes ever decides Fornals is not the answer to his midfield questions, a moment around the 12th minute will be an example as to why. West Ham broke with Fornals in the middle, Benrahma on his left, and Haller on his right. He had space. He had time. He decided to roll a pass to Benrahma, and the ball had absolutely no zip to it. That allowed Mina to intercept and move the ball quickly back down the other way. Those are the kinds of moments where Fornals seems to fall short of expectations time and time again. I like him, and I would keep playing him. But if I notice it, Moyes certainly does.

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West Ham won their first corner of the match in the 24th minute when Coufal had a cross blocked out by Bernard. Bowen put a very good ball into the box, but neither Haller or Soucek could reach it and it went out for a goal kick. Five minutes later Coufal put a fine ball into the box for Haller, but the struggling center forward couldn’t square up for a shot and lost possession. Seconds later the Hammers were on the attack again, with Benrahma rolling a ball for Cresswell on the left. The Liverpool native tried a low shot that rolled wide and just eluded Bowen at the far post.

West Ham won another corner in the 35th minute when Benrahma did a fine job chesting down a ball, then tried to lob it over Holgate who had to put it behind for the set piece. More pressing won a second corner, but the delivery from Cresswell was poor. For all of the energy and possession, West Ham had no shots on target by the 40th minute. Neither did Everton for that matter. Still, the match didn’t look as plodding as the statistics suggested.

Everton finished the half with two set pieces. The first was a free kick outside the box on the right, but Sigurdsson put his delivery over everyone. Bernard was able to retrieve the ball and win a corner, and while the set piece didn’t amount to anything the ball eventually found Bernard near the top of the West Ham eighteen yard box. He wrapped his right foot around a shot that became the first on target of the match, and Randolph dove low to his right to make the save.

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Halftime
Everton 0
West Ham 0

The first ten minutes of the second half were in essence the same as the first forty-five. A lot of up and down, with the ball almost exclusively in the middle two-thirds of the pitch. It was predictable enough that I felt fine putting the IPad down and watching from a standing position in my bedroom. Good for circulation, you know what I mean?

West Ham had a decent half chance in the 55th minute when a set piece was played to Rice on the left. The young captain made a run and sent a terrific ball into the box. It had pace, but it didn’t have a target. Haller tried to slide in and make contact, but to no avail in what would be his last action of the day as he was pulled for Antonio.

West Ham won a free kick in the 60th minute just outside the Everton area after a fine run by Coufal. Cresswell went for goal on his delivery, which forced Pickford to make a save with his outstretched hand. Moments later Benrahma earned the Hammers a corner, and while Cresswell’s delivery didn’t amount to anything Fornals was able to try a long range strike that Pickford handled with ease. A minute later Everton had a chance to test Randolph but Coleman’s shot in the box had very little pace. A few seconds after that Fornals had his customary open look from inside the box that he couldn’t convert when Bowen put a cross in the box but the young Spaniard could only muster a soft header. Seconds later Antonio had his first look when he ran into the box with Benrahma but tried to find the far post with a side footed shot that Pickford stopped. The match finally stretched into both boxes with both teams seemingly looking to steal three points.

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Everton won a free kick in the 72nd minute when Richarlison made a run at Bowen, and the little Claret engine that could took him down. But the shape of West Ham held and the ball was cleared. That turned out to be Bowen’s last moment of the day as he and Fornals gave way for Lanzini and Yarmolenko. The first substitution I understood. The second, not so much. But they were both, by and large, attacking changes which seemed to indicate Moyes wasn’t quite ready to settle for the point.

Everton won another dangerous free kick in the 80th minute after Yarmolenko gave the ball away needlessly deep in Everton territory, which allowed the Toffees to counter. Soucek was guilty of taking Richarlison down, but again West Ham held firm and Ogbonna cleared the delivery.

As the match wound down to what looked to be another draw, I started to formulate what I would say about a third consecutive stalemate. And it was going to be reasonably positive. I mean, when has a draw at Everton been a disappointment? Then Yarmolenko flicked a little pass to Soucek in the box, and possibly the best signing since Payet sent a hard volley towards goal that Pickford punched away. The ball rolled out to Cresswell, about 25 yards from goal, and even looking at the back of his head you just knew his eyes were bugging out like a cartoon character. He drilled a low shot that deflected off Mina and into the path of Soucek, who had the presence of mind to direct it into the back of the net.

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Everton 0
West Ham 1

I went into full pacing mode, refusing to write a word about the final minutes plus added time. Antonio had what I thought was a legitimate shout for a penalty when Mina shoved him in the back as he tried to shoot, and down the other side Lanzini made a crucial interception on a pass from one guy for Everton to another guy for Everton before Rice was able to clear. I couldn’t see who the players in blue were because my fingers were only barely apart, obstructing the view through my hands at the TV.

Final Score
Everton 0
West Ham 1

One of the problems in these Holiday Season fixtures is we often lump them together as a single unit. Three matches, nine points on offer. If the match had ended in a draw, many would have viewed three points as a disappointment. Not me, despite my chronic pessimism. The only thing we can shake our head about was the Brighton result, and even then Moyes took the blame for his starting eleven. Four points from two away matches against two teams ahead of us in the table is more than commendable. It’s downright good.

A Festive Period indeed.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

Southampton 0, West Ham 0. A Point Of Perspective.

To enter the Everton Predictor League, click HERE. Entries can be made until 3.30pm on Friday. The Southampton scores were the lowest of the season. View them HERE. Well done Hammer63 for toppong the league wit 53 points.

I normally watch matches with few if any distractions, which allows me to pay close attention. But when you sell a product that people want….maybe need….this time of year, that kind of time is not available. So sitting in front of my computer with my IPad and IPhone open and buzzing incessantly, I chose to do the best I could with what little concentration I could afford.

The most valuable person for West Ham in the opening 25 minutes was the linesman, whose flag saved us from an early Ings goal. The best contact a West Ham boot made with anything was Dawson’s right foot on the shoulder and head of Che Adams (thanks to Nigel for catching my earlier mistake on this, saying it was Walker-Peters).

Welcome to the club, Craig. Try not to get sent off.

Despite going with a more attacking lineup, West Ham had a very hard time retaining possession in the opening minutes. It was hard watching Haller go down easily from a running into the shoulder of Bednarek. Ice Hockey would definitely not suit the lanky Frenchman. Sorry, Ivorian.

In the 35th minute Walcott and Ings combined to get a low shot off, but again the linesman raised his flag. Seconds later it was Ings on the right, clearly the side they decided to attack, but Ogbonna knocked the cross out for Southampton’s third corner of the match. The threat as it was ended with a Bertrand blast into the empty stands.

West Ham had a decent chance in the 41st minute when Yarmolenko chased a ball on the right and lobbed a ball into the box. Haller headed to Fredericks near the right post, but his header had very little oomph and landed in the arms of McCarthy. Seconds later Dawson gave up a free kick near the top of the West Ham eighteen yard box, and with Ward-Prowse there it could have ended badly for the men in Claret & Blue. Over the bar it went, exhale went West Ham supporters.

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The last kick of the half could have been a great moment for the visitors, but as the ball dropped in between Lanzini and Rice it was Lanzini, whose back was to goal, who attempted the shot to no avail.

Halftime
Southampton 0
West Ham 0

West Ham started the second half a bit better than they started the first, and if the ball had taken a different bounce anyone from Yarmolenko to Fornals could have had a good look at goal. But despite the higher energy and pretty even statistics the finished product didn’t exist, and it was hard to look past the center forward spot as the reason why things broke down for West Ham.

Southampton asked some questions in the 57th minute when Djenepo won the ball from Yarmolenko inside the West Ham box. He found Walcott on the right who rolled a pass Romeu near the top of the box, but his shot flew over the bar. Five minutes later Walcott decided to have a go from thirty yards, and it forced a far better save from Fabianski than one might have expected when the ball took flight.

In the past 24 hours, there was some muttering about Benrahma’s place at West Ham. Did Moyes want him in the first place? Was it a DS Special? The Algerian came on for Lanzini with about half an hour left. His first time on the ball presented him a chance to show what he is capable of. But with space to run into, he chose an early pass to Haller that actually stopped the play as opposed to advancing it. Maybe more match time will do the trick. Question is will he get it? Moments later, after a superb tackle by Rice on Walcott in the box, Walker-Peters let go a low shot that Fabianski smothered.

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After Djenepo was shown a yellow card for a foul on Dawson, the ensuing free kick found Soucek in the box, but he didn’t make good contact. Seconds later West Ham won a corner, but Southampton cleared. It was better from West Ham, with Bowen adding pace and energy after he came on for Yarmolenko. The sight of Antonio warming up, unfortunately, filled me with dread. Every time he returns from a hamstring injury early history repeats itself. I know I’m stating the obvious.

West Ham won another free kick in the 76th minute, and before it could be taken Antonio came on for Haller. Pleeeeease, Lord. Protect those Hammies. The delivery from Cresswell was good, but Southampton held their line and the flag went up.

West Ham had the best chance of the day in the 85th minute when Bowen ran down a ball in the box and squared it for Benrahma right in front of McCarthy. But the Southampton keeper made himself big and stopped Benrahma from opening his West Ham account.

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Final Score
Southampton 0
West Ham 0

Perspective. Sometimes I need to be reminded of it. While it’s a bit cliche to ask the question, I’m doing it anyway. If someone offered us 10th place on 23 points after 16 games would we have taken it? Don’t bother answering because it’s so clear it’s virtually transparent. While 4 points from these last two would have been more appropriate, we still got something from both matches. Today in particular had what I thought were a few unexpected bright spots. Dawson had a perfectly acceptable game, as did Fredericks. While Southampton had some decent looks and a few good attempts to go with their offside plays, we held our shape and looked solid.

I’m OK with that.

Happy New Year.


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