Come the hour and all that. Here we are at the end of the season, with West Ham having failed in their quest for automatic promotion, only to meet their start of the season conquerers Cardiff City, in a game that ‘dif fans are delighted about having sneaked in the top six on the last day for their third consecutive play off campaign. Normally the team with momentum win out, but it’s been a long season for both teams, and now the slate is clean. The punters are saying West Ham with their squad and money (!), but Cardiff have the experience of this situation. Once again this game finds me on the sofa, for a bit of live blogging. Having read the last one, i apologise up front for mixed tenses.
West Ham lined up with a nearly unchanged team from the win against Hull, with Collinson coming in for Lansbury.
Cariff nearly get a sneaky of the bat with Whittingham putting one just over the bar after 1 minute, the Rob Green made a save from Miller after 2 minutes. All in all a shaky start from WHU. Nerves ?
Obviously not, after withstanding the early pressure, Jack gets on the end of a quality Vaz Te cross to go one nil up in the 9th. Get in. Nice work chaps.
WHU seem to settle, after this but not without some continued pressure from Cardiff. The game then went a bit tit for tat niggly, which seems to suit Cardiff better. By half an hour the game appeared to be going flat but the Hammers seem to have most of the possession. By 35 Cardiff were back on top after a dismissed penalty claim, and a near miss ranger from Miller. It also appeared that CC had taken a knock, as he slowed dramatically. Then after 40 minutes, WHU doubled their lead against the run of play, as Jack again got the second from distance (with some help from a defensive deflection). Great save from Marshall to deny CC a goal just on the stroke of half time.
Cardiff started off like a train in the second half, with several chances in the first 10 minutes. WHU appeared unsettled with James Tompkins getting a card for losing the plot with the ref. And then Noble gets a yellow for half a tackle just after the hour mark, about 30 seconds before Miller fires another ball over. Then Nolan get a card for diving in on the ‘dif keeper. In amongst all this McCartney came on for Vaz Te, who did seem quiet.
With 70 mins gone, WHU seemed to be back in control, of tempers and the ball. Nolan could of put the game beyond doubt when he put a clear header wide from an excellent Taylor cross (one of few tonight). At 74 Faubert replaced an improving Guy Demel.
With 2 mins to go McCartney nearly gave away a penalty, luckily the ref didn’t agree. But he did find 5 mins of ET from somewhere.
The game ended as the last game here for the Hammers, in a 2-0 victory. A professional victory but not an easy one. The first half hour on Monday will tell where this tie is going.
MOTM Jack Collinson (who else). Ran close by Carlton Cole.