Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

4th March 2012 – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel topped the UK box office and Gotye featuring Kimbra was number one with ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ as West Ham United recorded a 2-0 victory over tomorrow’s opponents Cardiff City in front of 23,872 at the Cardiff City Stadium. Davy Jones of The Monkees had passed away four days earlier while actor Philip Madoc, known for many roles but perhaps most fondly remembered for playing the German U-boat captain in a famous episode of Dad’s Army, died the day after the game.

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Skipper Kevin Nolan opened the scoring in this Sunday lunchtime encounter two minutes before half-time, meeting Nicky Maynard’s short pass and stroking a low effort into the far corner of the net in his first game back from a three-match suspension. Popular left-back George McCartney (pictured above) doubled the visitors’ advantage against the Bluebirds, managed by former Hammers centre-half Malky Mackay, with 13 minutes left of the contest – the Ulsterman, in his second spell with the club, picked up the ball on halfway before embarking on a run which took him into the hosts’ penalty area. When his initial cross was blocked, McCartney met the rebound himself to steer the ball into the net with his right foot to register his second, and ultimately final, goal in claret and blue. My video below shows the action from this match in the Welsh capital.

Cardiff had gone into the match on the back of a penalty shoot-out defeat to Liverpool in the League Cup Final the weekend before. Sam Allardyce’s Hammers would finish third in the Championship in 2011/12, while Cardiff would end the campaign in sixth place. Reading won the division, with the Irons beating the Bluebirds in the Play-Off Semi-Finals before clinching promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking with a Wembley win over Blackpool in the Final. Manchester City won the title and Chelsea won the FA Cup.

Cardiff City: David Marshall, Kevin McNaughton, Ben Turner, Mark Hudson, Andrew Taylor, Don Cowie, Peter Whittingham, Aron Gunnarsson, Joe Mason, Kenny Miller, Rudy Gestede (Haris Vuckic).

West Ham United: Robert Green, Joey O’Brien, James Tomkins, Abdoulaye Faye, George McCartney, Mark Noble, Henri Lansbury (Gary O’Neil), Jack Collison, Kevin Nolan, Ricardo Vaz Te, Nicky Maynard (Carlton Cole).

Club Connections

A decent number of players have worn the shirts of both West Ham United and Cardiff City. These include:

Goalkeepers: Tommy Hampson, Stephen Bywater and Peter Grotier.

Defenders: Clive Charles, Danny Gabbidon, Phil Brignull and James Collins.

Midfielders: Gary O’Neil, Matt Holmes, Trevor Sinclair, Ravel Morrison, Bobby Weale, Billy Thirlaway, Joe Durrell and Jobi McAnuff.

Strikers: John Burton, Craig Bellamy, Marouane Chamakh, Billy Charlton, Nicky Maynard and Keith Robson.

Bobby Gould, Malky Mackay and Frank O’Farrell all played for the Hammers and managed the Bluebirds.

Today’s focus though is on a player who turned out for Cardiff before a loan spell with West Ham later in his career. Roger Johnson was born on 28th April 1983 in Ashford, Surrey. A Chelsea season-ticket holder as a boy, he started his career with Wycombe before signing for Cardiff in the summer of 2006 for £275,000. The 6’3 centre-half made his debut at the age of 23 in a 2-1 Championship win at Barnsley on 5th August 2006 and scored his first goal for the club in a 4-1 home win over Preston on 23rd February 2007. He also scored in a 2-1 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in April of the same year as the Bluebirds finished 13th under Dave Jones. The 2007/08 season saw Johnson score late winners against Brighton at home in the League Cup and at Norwich in the league, as well as goals in draws at Hull and Watford. Johnson also scored in wins at Preston and at home against Bristol City in the Severnside Derby. He notched a crucial goal in Cardiff’s 2-0 victory at Premier League Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quarter final, a run which took the Bluebirds all the way to the 2008 FA Cup Final at Wembley, which they lost 1-0 to Portsmouth. Johnson was awarded the club’s Player of the Year award at the end of the season.

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Johnson scored a late winning goal at home against Southampton on the opening day of the 2008/09 campaign and also scored in 2-0 home wins over Preston and Sheffield Wednesday, as well as a 2-2 draw at Wolves and 4-1 home victory over Derby. He had played every minute of the season until he had to leave the field at Crystal Palace on 11th April 2009 after being hit in the throat by an elbow from Palace defender Claude Davis; Johnson suffered breathing difficulties and was forced to spend two nights in hospital. Davies was found guilty of violent conduct by the FA and banned for three matches. Johnson was voted the club’s Player of the Year for the second successive campaign and was named in the Championship Team of the Year as Cardiff finished one place outside the play-off spots in seventh position.

Having scored 14 goals in 136 appearances for Cardiff, the 26-year-old Johnson moved to Premier League Birmingham in the summer of 2009 for a fee of £5m and won the League Cup with the Blues in 2011 having knocked out West Ham in the Semi-Finals. Birmingham were relegated at the end of the 2010/11 season but Johnson remained in the top flight, signing for Wolves in a deal worth just over £4m. Despite being club captain, Johnson had disciplinary issues at Molineux and the club were relegated in 2012 with Johnson subsequently placed on the transfer list. He joined Sheffield Wednesday on a three-month loan in September 2013 before moving to the Hammers in another temporary switch.

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With Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United 19th in the Premier League and having just been beaten 5-0 at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round, the 30-year-old Johnson was brought in on loan until the end of the season. The Hammers were without fellow centre-halves James Tomkins, James Collins and Winston Reid at the time, while Everton’s Johnny Heitinga had rejected a move to Upton Park despite the two clubs agreeing terms. Johnson made his debut in a 6-0 League Cup Semi-Final first leg defeat at Manchester City on 8th January 2014, two days after joining the club; he also later played in the 3-0 home defeat in the second leg as the Irons were trounced 9-0 on aggregate. Johnson’s league debut came in a 2-0 win at former club Cardiff on 11th January 2014 and he made his home debut in a 3-1 loss to Newcastle the following week. After two months out of the side, Johnson returned to make two substitute appearances in 2-1 wins against Hull at home and away to Sunderland, both in late March. Nicknamed ‘The Relegator’ by skipper Mark Noble for his role in demotions at both Birmingham and Wolves, Johnson made six appearances in total for West Ham United before returning to Wolves at the end of the 2013/14 season.

Johnson’s contract at Molineux was eventually terminated by mutual consent in February 2015 and he joined Charlton soon after. He moved to Indian Super League side FC Pune City in the summer of 2015 but rejoined Charlton in January 2016. Now 35, Johnson is at National League side Bromley having joined the club in October 2017, five months after his second release from Charlton. He returned to Wembley for the FA Trophy Final against Brackley last season, scoring a 95th-minute own goal and eventually being on the losing side in a penalty shoot-out.

Referee

Tomorrow’s referee is 50-year-old Graham Scott. The Oxfordshire-based official will be taking charge of only his seventh Premier League match involving West Ham United – the Hammers have won five of the previous six league matches he has officiated. His first Premier League appointment with the Irons was our 3-1 win at Southampton in February 2017. He also took charge of the Hammers for our 3-0 win at Stoke in December 2017 – Scott’s decision to award Manuel Lanzini a first-half penalty saw the Argentine retrospectively banned for two matches. He also refereed our 2-0 home win over Watford in February 2018, our 3-1 home win over Everton on the final day of last season and our 3-1 defeat at Arsenal in August.

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Scott was most recently the man in the middle for our 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture against Cardiff at London Stadium in December, a match which saw him award a penalty to the visitors which Lukasz Fabianski saved. He was also in charge for our 2-1 League Cup victory over Cheltenham in August 2013 and also sent off Callum McNaughton in the defender’s only Hammers appearance as the club were knocked out of the same competition by Aldershot in August 2011.

Possible line-ups

Cardiff City will be without injured centre-half Sol Bamba for the rest of the season.

Manuel Pellegrini has Fabian Balbuena and Aaron Cresswell available but Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmolenko are still sidelined. West Ham are on a seven-match winning streak against Cardiff, keeping clean sheets in five of those games.

Possible Cardiff City XI: Etheridge; Peltier, Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Bennett; Gunnarsson, Ralls, Arter; Camarasa, Reid; Zohore.

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

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!