Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

Today’s blast from the past involves a trip back to 17th October 2015 when West Ham United enjoyed a 3-1 Premier League victory over Crystal Palace in front of 24,812. Former Everton player and manager Howard Kendall died on the day of the game, KDA featuring Tinie Tempah & Katy B were number one with ‘Turn The Music Louder (Rumble)’ and The Martian topped the UK box office.

The Hammers went into the game having won three and drawn one of their opening four away league games in 2015/16, including victories at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City. The Irons took the lead after 22 minutes as two loanees combined with Victor Moses, playing against his former club, finding right-back Carl Jenkinson who finished low to record his second goal in successive games. The Eagles were level three minutes later when Jenkinson fouled Dwight Gayle to concede a penalty – Yohan Cabaye converted but was forced to re-take after encroachment from team-mates. The French international scored at the second attempt, although Adrian did get a hand to his fierce spot-kick. Palace striker Gayle was sent off a minute before the interval after collecting two yellow cards for fouls on Dimitri Payet and Cheikhou Kouyate.

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The Eagles held out with ten men until the 88th minute. Slaven Bilic’s three substitutes were all involved as Mauro Zarate stood a cross up for Andy Carroll to head back across goal for Nikica Jelavic. The Croatian couldn’t quite convert under pressure from desperate Palace defending but the ball broke for 22-year-old midfielder Manuel Lanzini to slam home from close range (pictured above). The Argentine then sent Payet through on goal deep into added time, with the Hammer of the Year-in-waiting remaining calm to leave Wayne Hennessey floored by a dummy before coolly lifting the ball over the Welsh international to secure the points and send the Irons into the Premier League’s top four. Payet would end the season as the Hammers’ top scorer with 12 goals from 38 matches.

Super Slav’s Hammers would finish seventh in the Premier League in 2015/16, while Alan Pardew’s Eagles would end the campaign in 15th place and reach the FA Cup Final. Leicester won the league title and Manchester United won the FA Cup.

Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessey, Martin Kelly, Scott Dann, Brede Hangeland, Pape Souare, Yohan Cabaye (Joe Ledley), James McArthur (Mile Jedinak), Wilfried Zaha (Bakary Sako), Jason Puncheon, Yannick Bolasie, Dwight Gayle.

West Ham United: Adrian, Carl Jenkinson, James Collins, James Tomkins, Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble (Andy Carroll), Victor Moses (Mauro Zarate), Manuel Lanzini, Dimitri Payet, Diafra Sakho (Nikica Jelavic).

Club Connections

James Tomkins and Cheikhou Kouyate welcome their former club to Selhurst Park. A large group of players have turned out for the Hammers and the Eagles. Divided here by position, they include:

Goalkeepers: Perry Suckling, Steve Mautone, Vincent Blore.

Defenders: Eddie Presland, Kenny Brown, Malcolm Pyke, Alf Noakes, Bill Roberts, Neil Ruddock, Paul Brush, Danny Gabbidon, Chris Powell, Alan Stephenson, Tony Gale, Matthew Upson, Darren Powell, Jose Fonte.

Midfielders: Jimmy Wood, Anton Otulakowski, Victor Moses, Hayden Mullins, Derek Jackman, Carl Fletcher, Harry Gunning, Jobi McAnuff, Fred Norris, Trevor Dawkins, Kyel Reid, Ray Houghton, Michael Hughes.

Strikers: Joe Johnson, Ron Williams, Ian Wright, Andy Smillie, Jeroen Boere, Johnny Cartwright, Johnny Byrne, Peter Simpson, Clive Allen, Dave Swindlehurst, Paul Kitson, Ron Brett, Dave Sexton, Marouane Chamakh, George Petchey.

Malcolm Allison and Jack Tresadern played for the Hammers and managed the Eagles, while Iain Dowie played for both clubs and also managed Palace. Alan Pardew played for the Eagles and managed both clubs. Sam Allardyce has also managed both clubs.

Today’s focus though is on a former Hammers striker who had a loan spell with the Eagles. Freddie Sears was born in Hornchurch on 27th November 1989. He had scored 24 goals in 25 games for the youth and reserve sides when he was pitched in for his senior debut by Alan Curbishley with 15 minutes remaining of the home game against Blackburn on 15th March 2008. With the game deadlocked at 1-1, a backheel from Dean Ashton found Sears inside the penalty area six minutes after entering the fray – the 18-year-old’s right-foot shot was saved by Brad Friedel but bounced up for the young striker to nod a diving header into the corner of the net and send Upton Park into raptures. With West Ham United’s footballing knights, Sir Geoff Hurst and Sir Trevor Brooking, watching from the stands, a star was born, the new Tony Cottee…

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It wasn’t to be. Sears was denied another winning goal by the post in the last minute of his next game at Goodison Park the following week. He would appear from the bench in four further matches before the end of the 2007/08 season and make his first start in the 2-1 win over Derby. With Gianfranco Zola taking over from Curbishley early in 2008/09, Sears would make a further 22 appearances for the Hammers in 2008/09, with seven of these being starts.

Zola sent Sears on loan to Neil Warnock’s Crystal Palace for the 2009/10 Championship campaign. He made his Eagles debut on 8th August 2009, starting in Palace’s 1-1 draw with Plymouth. Sears started again in Palace’s next match the following week against Bristol City at Ashton Gate and looked to have scored his first goal for the club – however, the match officials failed to see the ball cross the line and the goal was not awarded after Sears’ shot had flown into the back of the net, hit the stanchion at the back of the goal and bounced back out. Palace went on to lose 1-0 to a late goal from future Hammer Nicky Maynard.

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Warnock hoped that a goal against Macedonia for England Under-21s would help Sears, who was also capped by England at Under-19 and Under-20 levels, to break his duck at Crystal Palace. He returned to first-team action as a second-half substitute in the Eagles’ 4-0 defeat to Scunthorpe on 12th September 2009 but missed a penalty despite wrestling the ball from usual penalty taker Neil Danns. Sears injured his ankle late in the game and did not return to action until 17th October, as a substitute for another future Hammer, Victor Moses, in the Eagles’ 1-1 draw at Cardiff. Warnock confirmed that, following Crystal Palace’s game with Swansea on 28th December, Sears would return to the Hammers. After making 19 appearances in the league and League Cup, Sears completed his loan spell without making the scoresheet.

Sears made two substitute appearances for West Ham in January 2010, against Arsenal in the FA Cup and Blackburn in the Premier League, before returning to the Championship with Coventry the following month. He again failed to find the net and started the 2010/11 season with West Ham under new management in the form of Avram Grant – Sears came off the bench in a 3-1 home defeat to Bolton and started the 1-0 League Cup second round win over Oxford. He again returned to the Championship for a loan spell, this time with Scunthorpe, but again failed to score.

He returned to West Ham around Christmas 2010 and scored his first goal in almost three years in a 2-0 New Year’s Day win over Wolves, ramming home Tal Ben Haim’s cross from 15 yards to secure the points with 11 minutes remaining and take the Hammers out of the bottom three for the first time that season. He made his highest number of Hammers starts (13) in 2010/11 and scored his final goal for the club in a 5-1 FA Cup fifth round win over Burnley at Upton Park on 21st February 2011.

The Hammers were relegated but Sears was handed a start in new manager Sam Allardyce’s first game in charge of the club, the 1-0 Championship defeat to Cardiff at the Boleyn Ground. Sears would only start one more league match under Allardyce before going on loan to Colchester in February 2012, a move he would make permanent less than five months later on a free transfer. His final appearance in claret and blue was the 1-0 FA Cup third round defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on 8th January 2012 – in total Sears scored three goals in 58 appearances for West Ham United. All three can be viewed in my video below.

After two and a half years with Colchester, Sears moved back up the football ladder in January 2015 with a move to Championship side Ipswich. Now 29, Sears is still at Portman Road and has scored 30 goals in 175 matches for the Suffolk club. He has made 24 appearances this season in all competitions, scoring six goals.


Saturday’s referee will be Craig Pawson; 2018/19 is Pawson’s seventh as a Premier League referee. In 2014/15 he refereed West Ham’s 3-1 home win over Liverpool and sent off Adrian in our 0-0 draw at Southampton, a decision that was later overturned. His Hammers appointments in 2015/16 were both at the Boleyn Ground, for our 2-2 draw with Manchester City in January 2016 and the 3-3 draw with Arsenal three months later.

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Pawson did not referee the Hammers at all last season; his Irons games this season have been our 8-0 win over Macclesfield in September and, most recently, our 2-1 win at Southampton in December. His matches in charge of West Ham United in 2016/17 saw him send off Harry Arter as the Hammers defeated Bournemouth 1-0 in August 2016, while he also officiated in our 2-1 home win over Chelsea in the fourth round of the League Cup in two months later. He also refereed our 5-1 home defeat to Arsenal in December 2016. He awarded Watford a penalty and sent off Michail Antonio as the Irons drew 1-1 at Watford in February 2017.

Possible line-ups

Crystal Palace look set to be without injured left-back Pape Souare and former Hammer Cheikhou Kouyate. Roy Hodgson must make a decision on whether to start Michy Batshuayi. Wilfried Zaha has been banned for one further match but the suspension is not currently effective while the player considers his right of appeal.

Manuel Pellegrini is without Fabian Balbuena, Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, Samir Nasri and Andriy Yarmolenko. West Ham are unbeaten in their last four visits to Selhurst Park.

Possible Crystal Palace XI: Guaita; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, van Aanholt; Townsend, Milivojevic, McArthur, Schlupp; Ayew, Benteke.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Noble, Snodgrass; Antonio, Chicharito, Anderson.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!