The first half display from the Irons was of the variety that would induce even the most mild-mannered supporter to spit out his Bovril and, in one swift ninja-esque movement, rip off his replica West Ham top and tear up his season ticket (an especially difficult manoeuvre, given that all Boleyn Ground season tickets are now in plastic card format.) It wasn’t just that West Ham created a load of chances and didn’t put them away; it was that even more so, our wingers seemed to be afraid to attack the chocolate fireguard that is Clint Hill and the budding gaffer that is Ryan Nelson; instead persisting in intricate build up play down by the flanks, where the visitors have been, it has to be said, pretty solid of late.
As ever, the driving force behind all United’s attacks was the man mountain Momo Diame; yet again proving that he is much more than just a midfield heavyweight with a series of driving runs into the QPR penalty area. Time after time, his progress continued unchallenged by the QPR rearguard and a dangerous ball was swung across the visitors’ six yard box, but time after time there was nobody on the end of it. Something had to give, and after 14 minutes, it did- but not the way one would have expected it to, given the one sided start to the game. From yet another Hammers’ near miss, QPR broke forward. A pin point pass from ex Spurs man Adel Taarabt found one-time West Ham transfer target Loic Remy, an £8 million signing for the R’s a few days previously. The Irons back four were caught napping and the former Marseille hitman dispatched the chance before Jussi Jaaskelainen could come out and narrow the angle. It would not be entirely fair to say that the goal “galvanised” the Irons, as they simply continued as they were before conceding; with the onslaught on the visitors’ goal continuing, and skipper Kevin Nolan going close on more than one occasion. For a side rooted to the bottom of the league however, QPR proved remarkably difficult to break down and retained their slender lead as the half time whistle blew.
If the first half had been one-sided, then the second half was simply a massacre. Joe Cole, back at his old stomping ground and facing the team who the Hammers beat to his signature, was everywhere. An ineffectual first half display was soon forgotten as all West Ham’s attacks began to be channelled through him and his mazy runs- much as we channelled our attacks through Diame’s driving runs in the first half. However, as with the first half, chance after chance went begging. Marouane Chamkah, enjoying a competent home debut for the Irons and unlucky not to win a penalty in the first half when he was felled by Shaun Wright-Phillips, was hooked for the original Cole- CC was on the scene. From Matt Jarvis’ cross, the big number nine’s header was well kept out by Julio Cesar but the former Inter Milan stopper could do nothing about the striker’s namesake Joe’s follow up; 1-1. Now the Irons really got going and through everything at QPR in the last 20 minutes. Winston Reid saw a shot well blocked by Stephane Mbia and the goalscorer Cole almost won it with 10 to go after rounding Cesar but had his shot cleared off the line by Hill. The game finished somewhat prematurely after 4 minutes of added time; given that QPR’s Mbia was down injured for a good couple of minutes halfway through the second period and both sides used a combined five substitutes, where QPR made the most of the opportunity to waste time. Not really good enough for the Hammers, who, having created “enough chances to win three games” as the late Brian Clough once put it, desperately need a fox-in- the-box type finisher. What about that Loic Remy? He’s alright and he’s not happy at Marsei.. oh, wait.
WEST HAM UNITED
Jaaskelainen; Demel, Tomkins, Reid, O’Brien; J Cole, Noble, Nolan (Vaz Te ’88), Diame, Jarvis; Chamakh (C Cole ’62)
Substitutes: Spiegel, Potts, Collison, Taylor, Diarra, Cole, Vaz Te
QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Cesar; Hill, Onuoha, Nelson, Fabio; Derry, Taarabt (Park ’82), Wright-Phillips (Traore ’58), Mbia, Mackie (Boothroyd ’67); Remy
Substitutes: Green, Traore, Ferdinand, Park, Faurlin, Hoilett, Boothroyd
Referee: Howard Webb
Report by Alex Shilling