West Ham seem to have a habit of late of having a impressive first half, before trying to throw away all their hard work in the last 45 minutes.
Last night's cup tie against Cardiff at the Boleyn was no different. In truth, West Ham could have been 4 or 5 nil up going into half time, they completely dominated an admittedly mix-and-match Cardiff team.
Reformed ruffian Ravel Morrison was again at the heart of things, scoring the opener just 20 seconds in. A lovely first touch before turning his marker inside out and firing his shot into the roof of the net. The former Manchester United youngster (Alex Ferguson once compared him to Paul Scholes) seems to be really knuckling down this year and that, combined with an impressive pre-season, has seen him starting for the first team in the last few weeks. Last night reminded me of a young Joe Cole, the no-fear attitude that youngsters seem to have. The way he darts past players with ease, he really is a joy to watch. He gets himself into positions where he is able to get a shot away, and he is finding the target fairly often, he already has 3 goals to his name this term. West Ham could really use a goal-scoring midfield due to a lacklustre strike force and Ravel might be the man to step up to the mark.
6 minutes later and Matt Jarvis had made it two nil. The much criticised Maiga (always been a fan) did well to get round the back of the Cardiff defence and squared a ball to the on rushing Jarvis who just managed to poke it home.
Up until the 44th minute West Ham were really putting the pressure on and it could be said playing our best football of the season. The side had changes from the team that lost to Everton at the weekend, but the team seemed to gel together significantly better than Cardiff (who had made 11 changes) who really were struggling to deal with West Ham's threat.
Then the West Ham we all know and love showed up on Allardyce's 100th game in charge. Winger Noone came in from the right hand side unchallenged and smashed one into the top corner. No need to panic, Allardyce said when he took charge that West Ham would never throw away a two goal lead whilst he was at the helm. Until last night that was true (I am 99.9% certain).
Cardiff came out for the second half with a lot more purpose. Odemwingie was a lot more involved and West Ham old boy Nicky Maynard went close with a couple of efforts. Spanish keeper Adrian was forced into making a smart save from an overhead kick to keep West Ham in front. Collins missed a chance to reinstate West Ham's two goal lead, in fact it was so bad I have now stopped my campaign to give him a shot up front. A matter of minutes later, Cardiff found there equaliser through Odemwingie. Former Ross County player Don Cowie waltzed through West Ham's static defence before crossing to Odemwingie who couldn't miss.
It looked like my chances of an early night were slipping away as extra time loomed. Ricardo Vaz Te obviously knew of my worries and decided to step up to the mark in the 88th minute and headed in the winner from close range.
A sense of relief filled the ground as it booked our place in the last 16. Allardyce had marked his century appearance with another win (currently sits behind Trevor Brooking in win ratios as manager). All was well on the good ship West Ham, well good as can be.
I will now make a brash statement, if our next draw is kind to us, I can see us having a nice little run in the cup. I think Sam knows that this our best chance of winning something. He has the right mix of youngsters with fringe players making up the cup squad. Obviously if we drew one of the more difficult teams in a future round I think Sam would change the team about, I just think we will go for it this year (watch us get knocked out by a Championship side at home in the next round). Would I sacrifice our league form for a trip to Wembley? Damn right I would, I would probably take the Wigan situation (win the cup and get relegated), I personally much prefer the Championship to the Premiership so it wouldn’t bother me if we did go down.
So with that I will leave you with the thought of West Ham parading round Wembley with the Capital One Cup (god that sounds horrific) draped in Claret and Blue. Hey, one can dream.
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