Monday 1st November 2010
With ten minutes or so left on the clock on Saturday afternoon the word 'West' was looking like becoming increasingly irritating in our season. As has been the case on so many occasions however, if you keep banging on that door eventually you'll get in!
After a week that included two cracking away victories the atmosphere in the streets and pubs around London N5 was understandably upbeat. But along with the overall satisfaction with our Carling Cup home pairing with Wigan, complacency was the only worry as we looked forward to taking on the Hammers.
With their current lowly league position our visitors definitely came into the game with something to prove and being a big London derby it is a fixture that always has an added edge to it. For these reasons alone the game was never going to be easy.
Without being at our fluent best it was still us that created the first half chances with Robert Green's fine stops against Cesc, Seb and Songy springing to mind. West Ham can be applauded for a huge amount of effort and the way they quickly closed us down. But other than one shot from the edge of the area that didn't trouble Fab and a couple of set piece crosses they offered very little threat going forward.
Consequently although we hadn't been at our best I was relatively confident we would be OK in the second half.
It always feels like it's only a matter of time when we pour forward like we did for the remainder of the game - but with the clock ticking ever faster and our opponents understandably taking longer and longer over every aspect of their play it did start to look like it was going to be one of 'those' days.
Songy is fast turning into one of our most consistent players and adding a goalscoring aspect to his game is an added bonus. After coming close in the first half he timed his run into the box with absolute perfection,
stooping to bury Gael's fine cross and almost lifting the roof off the stadium. The fine jostle that ensued was graced with equal amounts of relief and elation!
On the way home I heard a few radio calls claiming we were lucky to get all three points. I'm not having that I'm afraid. To score relatively late on is only lucky if you have been bombarded by your opponent for the rest of the game, a kind of 'smash and grab' in other words.
We dominated and created enough chances on Saturday to win far more comfortably. For me we kept our patience when the ball wouldn't go in and thoroughly deserved the three point reward for eventually getting that all important goal.
Instead of 'West' it's 'East' in our thoughts next as we take the long trip to Donetsk in the Ukraine. My last trip ten years ago included three flights to get there and numerous other incredibly funny stories.
It will be only the two this year but if it proves half as entertaining it should be a fine trip.
A win will see us not only qualify but top the group. We need no more incentive than that.
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