Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Watford 1 West Ham 1

Yossi was dropped to the bench for this game and Collins was given a start. Playing three centre backs was presumably intended to give Pantsil and Konchesky license to push forward on the wings. However the change in system didn't really work in the first half as Harewood and Zamora too often found themselves isolated upfront and unable to retain the ball when they did get it.

West Ham looked reasonably comfortable in the first twenty minutes but didn't create many clear cut scoring opportunities. Their best chance came on 16 minutes when Harewood won the ball in a tackle on the halfway line and then ran with the ball straight into the penalty area, however at the final moment his touch let him down and pushed him too wide. The defence were therefore able to recover and when he did get his shot away it was easily blocked.

As the half progressed Watford seemed to grow in confidence and had the best of the play after the first twenty minutes. In fact they had the best chance of the half in the 25th minute when Hameur Bouazza ran the length of the pitch down the Watford left wing, completely unoppossed (Pantsil having lost the ball at the other end of the pitch). He hit a perfect cross for Marlon King but luckily his shot from 12 yards out hit West Ham's left hand post and fell to the West Ham defence.

West Ham stuck with the same formation in the second half and Watford reponded by pumping the ball into the space behind the attacking full-backs. There seemed a sense of inevitability that Watford would score and the goal came in the 62nd minute from King's scorching shot from 25 yards which curled past Carroll and inside his left post.

However West Ham responded immediately when Zamora ran onto a Konchesky cross from the left wing and volleyed the ball home from 2 yards. Pardew now changed the system by replacing Gabbidon with Yossi and Harewood with Cole. This seemed to even the game out a little as both sides now found more room and more chances were created by both sides.

In the 67th minute Paintsil almost scored an own goal from a Watford long throw. From the resulting corner Shittu headed over the bar from 12 yards. A minute later it was Ferdinand who almost put the ball in the back of his own net when he mishit a cross straight at Carroll.

In the 70th minute Sheringham cut back a Konchesky cross for Zamorra, who shot just past the right post from 5 yards. In the 78th minute Henderson met a cross but headed over the bar from 12 yards. In the 82nd minute Cole replaced Zamorra.

Not the most convincing display by West Ham but we're top of the league.

Watford: B Foster, Doyley, J DeMerit, D Shittu, C Powell, H Bouazza (73 T Priskin, D Francis, G Mahon (45 M Spring), A Young, M King, D Henderson

West Ham: R Carroll, J Paintsil, A Ferdinand, D Gabbidon (66 Y Benayoun ), J Collins, P Konchesky, L Bowyer, H Mullins, N Reo-Coker, M Harewood (66 T Sheringham ), B Zamora (83 C Cole )

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