Valentines day. A day for lovers and couples to enjoy each others company, safe in the knowledge that they have their entire lives ahead of them, in cojoined bliss.
Or a day to watch the top two gladiators in the championship, battle out for league title honours.
Thanks to Mrs mrben, i “chose” the latter, and expected a game worthy of the premiership, where both teams should be plying their trade next season. What i got was a premiership ref, who didn’t know his backside from his elbow and nearly ruined what should of been the star advert for the second tier of English football.
The now obligatory weather report was that although slightly warmer, things were still chilly in the upper Bobby. However out on the pitch things were heating up nicely, with Vaz Te nearly getting on the scoresheet after 1 minute.
Matt Taylor was brought in to replace the suspended Nolan, and looked quite effective on the wing. Taking aside the fact that Southampton seem to enjoy time wasting by holding the ball with the keeper only to short pass to a defender, we were easily on top.
After 22 mins or thereabouts, the stand in captain, Mark Noble, turned in the box and was tripped for a stonewall pen. In some minor kurfuffle post the penalty award, a Southampton player hit the deck in theatrical style, which ended up with Matt Taylor being red carded. Now, i didn’t see this fully (Mr Wenger !), and if he hit them then fair do’s, BUT, the linesman flagged the pen and overruled the ref, who was unsighted. The same linesman had this “assault” unfold in front of him, and did nothing, and the ref was still some distance (with several people in the way) away. The ref did not consider speaking the the lino, and the lino said nothing either. You either assist or don’t, you cant just dip in when you feel like it !
The ref then preceded to call every West Ham tackle a foul, and even blew for a foul throw (think of the last time you saw a ref blow for one of these in a TV game…………….exactly !). This culminated in the ref waving away, what i can only call an assault on CC, from the goalkeeper. He came out, got nowhere near the ball, jumped into CC, and laid him out (all 6.4 and 15 stone of him) flat. Not even a free kick, let alone a red card. Disgrace.
Green made a point blank save (after a mishandle) from Billy Sharp just before half time to keep it one nil Hammers going into the break.
The second half was all Southampton, as WHU defended deeper and deeper. Same as the wall game. The inevitable came with 15 to go, as Southampton scrambled an equalizer with an outstretched leg poking home the goal.
Nicky Maynard came on for a knackered CC, and nearly got the winner from an acute angle and looks a useful addition to the squad.
All in all, a good result bearing in mind the numbers game on the pitch. 2 players stood out again, Noble and Reid. Reid was extra solid, as his usual sparring partner Tompkins was playing in the midfield, and Noble ran himself into the ground again.
MOTM Winston Reid.