West Ham have taken the fight to the very end as goals from Winston Reid and Jack Collison ensured the Hammers took the automatic promotion chase to the final day after a 2-1 away win at the King Power Stadium.
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The Hammers who have been fighting against adversity all season, faced an uphill battle again as they fell behind to a precision header by Jermaine Beckford, but goals from Winston Reid and
academy product Jack Collison meant the Hammers still have a mathematical hope of automatic promotion come 12.30 Saturday.
Big Sam made three changes to the side that drew at Bristol City last Tuesday with Henri Lansbury, Danny Collins and Nicky Maynard being left out with Carlton Cole, Jack Collison and Gary O’Neill coming in for the Hammers who looked to make it 13 away day wins.
The away day specialists knew that nothing but a win would do and the away side started brightly with Collison and Ricardo Vaz Te both going close inside the first 10 minutes. But it was Cole who had the best chance of the opening exchanges when he met a Mark Noble delivery only to flash his header wide.
The Hammers were still looking the more likely to break the deadlock though as the first half drew on, a tame header from Collison and a rasping Nolan header the closest both teams came to finding the all-important first goal.
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And just as me and Billy were getting a little twitchy in the pub, the evitable happened, as good work from Ben Marshall on the left hand side left makeshift left back Matt Taylor for dead and delivered an inch perfect ball for an unmarked Beckford to show Cole how it is done as he planted his powerful header past Robert Green and the Hammers found themselves in a hole at 1-0 down.
And no doubt cheers of joy were being heard down the South Coast.
With glum faces Billy and I took a large gulp out of our glass and looked on with a wry smile as we heard the fantastic away support chant “we’re going to Wembley que sera sera.” Whilst planning
our quickest route to Cardiff or Blackpool from Luton.
But then West Ham did what West Ham do best give glum Hammers renewed hope when great overlapping work from Taylor meant Winston Reid only had to prod a foot out to plant Taylor superb cross into the back of the net to que mass celebrations in the away end and in the pub, albeit it just me and Billy.
On to the second half and after stocking up on refreshments Billy and I prepared for another heart stopping 45 minutes.
Our hope was getting brighter though, as the Hammers continued to create the far better chances but the nagging thought of “they look good on the break” was in the back of my mind throughout.
When Nolan blazed over in acres of space I looked to Billy and said this isn’t going to be our day is it? But just two minutes later we were on our feet, as the ball fell to Jack Collison 25 yards out, and I must admit I wasn’t confident giving his finishing ability thus far this season. But boy did he hit this as sweet as a nut, as he unleashed a right footed half volley past Kasper Schmeichel who could only parry to the ball into the top corner.
We believed again and as did the travelling claret and blue army in the away end at the King Power Stadium. The Hammers took a deserved lead and only had 31 minutes to hold on and more
important push on to get a few more goals.
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With the away fans in full voice trying to encourage the team home, the Hammers searched for more goals to reduce that all important goal difference, and as the TV panned to nervous away fans and they chanted “is there a fire drill” towards the empting home sections. The Hammers really should have made the game safe. A defensive mix up meant Nolan burst clear; with Lansbury by his side the away fans must have been readying themselves for another celebration. As I shouted just “sweat it Nolan sweat it” Nolan went for goal rather than squaring it to Lansbury who would of have the easy task of passing it into the empty net and Leicester cleared. How vital could that decision by Nolan prove to be come 3 o’clock on Saturday?
Still we believe again and in front of a fired up home sell out at Upton Park who knows what could happen. A Coventry win or draw and a repeat of the last home result wouldn’t go a miss. But the Hammers are in with a shout going into the final weekend and it sure makes thing interesting.
Now where did I put that lasagne recipe? That could come in useful down at St Mary’s on Saturday. And if some miracle Coventry do pull it off, the streets of east London will be lively come Saturday evening.
Come on You Irons!
Come on You sky Blues!
Believe we can do this!
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