David Hautzig's Match Report
Players and managers often have Matchday routines and plans. So did I. You see, today is my sons eleventh birthday. He was supposed to take his first archery lesson this morning while my daughter was at school (yes, her current school has morning classes on Saturday). Then we were going to go out for lunch, come home to open presents, make his chosen dinner of Spaghetti & Meatballs, play with the aforementioned presents, and then call it a night. However, Mother Nature interfered yet again. Ice, freezing rain, and snow after 60 degrees and torrential rain yesterday made the roads treacherous. I expected to be home alone during the match, but that didn’t happen. And on your kid’s birthday, you shouldn’t say NO to a request because you are watching West Ham. At least I wouldn’t. Thankfully, he didn’t ask for much and I had a lovely morning watching football.
As always, there was drama for West Ham before a ball was kicked. Andy Carroll didn’t make the trip because….exactly. Rice was dropped because….no clue. Moyes only named six subs to the bench because….temporary insanity? I know the U23 squad played yesterday and Moyes reportedly decided it was more important for certain players to play that match than sit today. But he couldn’t decide on one? Whatever.
The first opportunity of the match fell to Huddersfield when they won a corner in the sixth minute. The delivery was good, as was the flick on into the space right in front of Adrian. Fortunately for West Ham nobody on the home side made a run to go for that second ball and it rolled out for a goal kick.
As the first half moved into the 20th minute, The Hammers started to at least try to assert themselves a bit more. Lanzini made a couple of runs, as did Arnautovic, and Kouyate just mistimed a run onto a pass from Ginge. But despite that bit of endeavor, there was still no end product. In fact, there wasn’t even an attempt on goal. The only positive ball came from the reborn Noble, but it only went out for a goal kick.
I’m so used to watching West Ham make silly mistakes and get punished for them that when they happen to the opposing team I barely know how to react. In fact, I generally expect to see a good chance wasted. So when Lossi sent a short goal kick in the 26th minute to Lolley and Arnautovic pressured Lolley into losing the ball to Noble all alone in front of the Huddersfield goal, I saw Noble channeling his inner Carlton Cole (bless him) and skying it to the atmosphere. Instead, he showed experience and skill and easily slotted it home for his 50th career goal.
West Ham 1
Irony. Only one different letter from Irons. Yet so appropriate for our club. In the 42nd minute, Huddersfield broke down the right. The ball came to Lolley. The man responsible for West Ham’s opener. Noble, the man who scored after that error, had a chance to challenge Lolley on the right side of the box ran right past him. Lolley then had nothing but pasture in front of him and ran into it. He cut to his left and let rip a left footed screamer that beat a diving Adrian.
West Ham 1
I won’t lie. I was with my son when the second half started. I tried to keep an eye on the clock to know when to get back downstairs for the start of the second forty five minutes. So when I did get back to the IPad plugged into the television, I had to put my glasses on to make sure I saw the screen correctly. The replays were thankfully as wonderful as the live action. Arnautovic showed the kind of skill we lived for from DiCanio and Le Snake by passing to himself over Smith’s head and drilling it past Lossi only eleven seconds after the re-start.
West Ham 2
Minutes after West Ham regained the lead, they won a corner. Cresswell’s delivery found Ogbonna in the box. His bouncing header was touched by Kouyate and looked destined for the back of the net. But Mooy was stationed on the line, and perhaps on another day before goal line technology a bad ref or linesman would have ruled it a goal. But technology was there, and the ball only went halfway in. Horseshoes and hand grenades as they say.
The visitors stayed on the front foot, and after some nifty one touch passing between Kouyate, Obiang, and Arnautovic the latter was sent free by Kouyate. Lanzini cut across and into the box, and our Austrian Talisman rolled a perfectly weighted ball to the little Argentine. Smith held his hand up, but since the linesman is decidedly not a preschool teacher he didn’t call on the Huddersfield right back. Lanzini ran onto the ball and put a low shot past Lossi.
West Ham 3
Huddersfield was obviously in a position where they had to chase the game. West Ham were ready to pounce, almost to a degree I had a hard time believing. Kouyate, having his best game in ages, won the ball on the right side of the West Ham penalty area. His long ball was brought down by Arnautovic, and he was off to the races. He wanted to finish what he started, but Schindler caught up to him and forced Arnie to rethink his plan. Which he did, with a pass to Lanzini in the box. A delightful finish into the top corner was next, and West Ham were up by three.
West Ham 4
The home side had a chance to make the final fifteen minutes a bit more interesting when new signing Alex Pritchard stepped up to take a free kick from twenty five yards out. His shot was poor, but it took a deflection off the wall and Adrian had to dive down to his right to palm the ball out for a corner. West Ham were given a small gift on the ensuing set piece when Smith’s shot from inside the box clearly went off Obiang and out for what should have been another corner. Instead, Moss pointed to Adrian for a goal kick. After that, it was just good ol’ Moysie shutting them down.
West Ham 4
No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need
I am going to guess that most West Ham fans despaired and expected the worst when Lolley equalized. I know I would have settled for a draw at that point. A second half goal explosion was about as likely as a progressive comment from Donald Trump. For all of the calls for a young, aggressive manager, I don’t think we have the infrastructure and management to support such a project. Eight years in and if there has been progress under the current regime I’d love for someone to point it out to me. That’s why I was OK with Moyes coming in and am willing to give him a shot at this longer term.
We are now eleventh in the table, albeit a table tighter than the suit I got married in. But to start the run of games that by most accounts will define our season with a comfortable win away from home is brilliant.
Happy Birthday, Son.