Cardiff City 4 West Ham 1. Match Report

Last updated : 06 November 2004 By Nigelblues

This was the game it all came right. Just divine as West Ham are one of those sides you long to see your own team blitz.

Strong defending, dynamic midfield, dazzling attacking play, a team (yes, a team, not the collection of individuals we endured earlier this season) packed with belief and self-confidence, a fine blend of youth and experience and players who are enjoying their football. A delight to see, heaven to experience. What a transformation, what a game, what a night.

Four brilliantly worked goals by different scorers put The Hammers, one of the class acts of the Championship, to the sword. Make no mistake, City were full value for a three goal victory – it could have been more - in another thrilling display and match. West Ham weren't bad, they played well, had chances and fought hard but were simply unable to live with City and clearly second best by some distance. The Supreme Bluebirds were too good, too strong, too powerful, too quick and too clever and too much for them. Glen Roeder, Shane Richie, Alf Garnett, Dirty Den, Henry Cooper, Arthur Mullard, can you read me – your boys took one hellll of a beating!.

There was some irony that as good as it was, City didn't play quite as well as the weekend when Leicester were comprehensively worked over but somehow escaped with a 0-0 draw. However it was no surprise that the side was unchanged with Warner, Williams-Collins-Gabbidon-Barker, McAnuff-O’Neill-Kavanagh-Ledley, Parry-Lee.

Those Chirpy Cheeky Cockneys, after losing the Premiership play-off final with West Ham on their last visit to the Real Capital five months ago, came to Ninian Park looking for a result. They came here twice last season to draw 0-0 in the league and beat us in the Carling Cup and must have been confident of another result.

They started the night 13 points and 14 places above City in 6th spot, just 2 points behind Ipswich in 2nd. Recent form had been mixed however with 3 wins, 3 draws and 2 defeats in their last 8 Championship outings. Their line-up was missing veteran top scorer Teddy Sheringham and Jobi McAnuff’s mate, Nigel Reo-Coker (their token one-time City target, every club has one!) to injury but were certainly strong enough and will undoubtedly be around the top places next May.

Their starting side were Bywater, Repka Mullins-Davenport-Brevett, Chadwick-Lomas-Fletcher-Etherington, Harewood-Zamora. Steven Bywater – with a fairly unique distinction of coming to City on loan (a couple of seasons ago) but never playing for us – is a quality keeper. Calum Davenport has reason to forget City too. Of the three home games we've won this season at Ninian Park, he’s been on the losing side in two of them having been sold by Coventry, just after we beat them in August, to Spurs but immediately loaned to West Ham for the season.

A midfield of Luke Chadwick (who makes me look handsome), Steve Lomas, Wales’ Carl Fletcher (like Chadwick, yep, another one-time City target) and Matthew Etherington looked threatening and Bobby Zamora and Marlon Harewood can give any defence problems. It was a big challenge but City rose to the occasion brilliantly in front of the declared crowd of 14,222 on a mild November night including a poor turnout of 250 or so Unhappy'ammers (they brought more to see us at Bournemouth last week!!!).

City opened with promise and intent but the first shot in anger came from West Ham when Chadwick fired a blistering 25 yard snapshot that just cleared Tony Warner’s Grange End crossbar. For the next half-hour however, City absolutely battered the visitors and into near submission too. As Ali said on the tannoy, recalling the ‘80’s rapper, it's Hammer Time!

We were due some luck and it arrived on 3 minutes as Tony Warner belted a goal-kick over halfway, Alan Lee didn't quite connect having been shoved by Davenport but as the ball dropped behind them, Paul Parry’s turned luck into brilliance by lightning-like chasing it down, turning and cutting inside Mullins from near the corner flag then hitting a low ball across the area where McAnuff showed great composure to dummy and ALAN LEE racing in powered a low finish past the helpless Bywater. Great play and just the lift everyone needed.

City were dominant but the visitors went close again with a great Chadwick run through City's rearguard but he fired into the side netting from an angle when closed down by Tony Warmer. On 16 minutes though, it was 2-0 with West Ham on their knees, floored by Joe Ledley genius and composure that belonged to someone who has played at the highest level for years rather than a 17 year old making only his 5th first team appearance.

There was nothing much on as Jobi McAnuff swung a diagonal long ball or when JOE LEDLEY ghosted behind defenders but the rest was sheer class and Three Steps to Heaven. Step One - he brought the ball down instantly on his left foot showing composure that veterans would rarely exhibit in that situation. Step Two - in an instant, a single touch to dummy his way Desparate Repka. Step Three - having showed immense class to do that, he was left with the task of beating Bywater from 8 yards in the centre of goal and he did that in style too, smashing the ball home low leaving the keeper completely helpless again.

It was astounding play, Ledley went nuts, Ninian went nuts and as Joe celebrated, every Blue shirted player jumped on him going nuts too. Ledley had already arrived for City but this goal signalled his arrival as a player of distinction. Physically, mentally and for sheer ability, you would swear you're watching a player several years older than he is. A long way to go, so much to learn but what class and potential.

Every time City pushed forward, West Ham were in panic mode. They didn't know if City would move it left to Ledley, right to McAnuff, Lee would ram them, Parry would burst past them, O’Neill would trick them or Kav would hit them either with a distance shot or a pass that dissected them. Gabbs was coming forward, Barker was making runs and even Darren Williams wriggled past three challenges before firing over.

What a transformation. Is this really the same team who had no pace or invention a few weeks ago? Whatever happened to our one dimensional sideways and backwards leisurely passing that only ever got us in trouble?

The biggest help to West Ham’s beleaguered defenders was the poorest of linesman who did not appear to know the offside rule. He flagged offside when City players burst through from good positions when balls were played and even when some City players were running back, not interfering, and holding their arms up to signal. McAnuff, shining against his previous club, hit an audacious first time angled volley that missed Bywater’s far post by a foot, Lee was just wide and when he was fouled, Bywater produced a save of the highest order to deflect O’Neill’s Beckham-esque free-kick onto his crossbar. It was cruel luck on O’Neill, the third time his set piece had hit which then smacked.

At 2-0, the onus was on West Ham to fightback, City could almost play lie the away side and know they would carve openings with the talent at their disposal and the swagger they had about them. That's more or less what happened but City got a little complacent and casual and just about survived to half-time with West Ham but there were escapes.

West Ham were throwing men forward. Davenport, the gangly centre-half, was now spending half the time as a centre forward. Chadwick almost burst through again, one good passing movement opened up City but Warner was out smartly to deny Harewood. The biggest escape of all came from a corner as Williams headed off the line from a header destined for a top corner and a return shot was brilliantly then headed off the line by Kav. It worried but it again emphasised the teamwork and desire running through the team. It was also the wake up call City needed and they picked things up again and finished the half strongly with McAnuff going close again on a night he shone, wanting to prove a point against his former club.

Half-time: CITY 2 WEST HAM 0

Ali enjoyed half-time. Some good punk numbers but also a ragtime piano cockney-style singalong of old pop and rock numbers. Some Dick van Dyke-style adapting the Prodigy song to "I'm the firestarter, a Cockerknee firestarter" and Eye of the Tiger was funny. As was his plea for extra staff at the club but nobody from Swansea should apply as the car park didn't have room for caravans. Thank god Red Dragon have been banished to a few on-pitch announcements. West Ham came back out early, City kept them waiting and all came out together - something else they haven't previously been doing this season. The differences are so noticeable.

Having been unable to match City playing football, West Ham changed their style completely in the second period by going physical and trying to intimidate City. It was now time for the boys to stand up for themselves and once again, they passed.

Etherington committed a bad challenge on Parry, Zamora and Harewood were trying to boss City's defenders but getting no change at all. How satisfying to see Zamora completely bossed by Gabbidon, as he is every time they face each other, but this time he didn't manage to score, a welcome change. Minutes after the restart, West Ham brought on Don Hutchinson (for Chadwick) whose remit just seemed to be to hit City players. James Collins was a man, he stood upto him even though he was twice floored by Hutchinson's flailing arms and carried on winning everything all night. Ginge is back to the best of his form as is Tony Warner who swept crosses and corners out of the air with some ease.

On 55 minutes, it was 3-0 and another fantastic goal. Ball was worked through midfield at speed to Alan Lee who bore down on West Ham defenders. An attempt to go straight through them did not quite come off but the ball came back to him and he showed a superb touch to angle the ball between two defenders where PAUL PARRY got behind them and slotted home with aplomb, the ball played across Bywater and inside his far post.

The game seemed in the bag but some credit must go to West Ham for still trying to hit back even though they were getting no change out of City who came closest again as more McAnuff magic, as he weaved past Brevett for the umpteenth time, saw things open up and his powerful shot across goal missed Bywater's far post by inches. No surprise when Brevett was replaced by Chris Powell but McAnuff was in irresistible form.

The Hammers did strike back on 70 minutes after an unbelievable burst from Harewood, starting inside his own half, saw him takeoff like an express train past tow City challenges and just inside the far edge of City's area where Kav committed with a flying challenge. He seemed to win the ball, just, but Harewood went down and a penalty was the award. It looked harsh but always likely with that sort of challenge. Also noticeable was that Kav himself had no real complaints. HAREWOOD took the kick, rolling the ball into the corner one way whilst Warner went the other.

The were some worries City could collapse and West Ham certainly went for it throwing on Sergei Rebrov, who apparently was a good player and striker once upon a time but is now a West Ham reserve, for defender Mullins for the final 15 minutes but within moments, huge relief and celebrations engulfed Ninian as it became 4-1 with another excellent goal after another free-flowing move. That was four goals, all different scorers, all from movements involving at least three or four players in the build up, high quality indeed.

West Ham could only look on and admire as O'Neill received the ball and burst forward with runners in front and either side of him, he picked out Ledley on the left who was moving inside and he showed more of his talent and composure to get to the edge of the area and sweep the winter yellow ball across it where McANUFF finished in style turning the ball low with power and direction leaving Bywater stranded once more.

It was now time to really sing and party. Some West Ham fans tried to exit and were cajoled with the whole ground chanting and waving "cheerio,cheerio,cheerio". Their side were taunted with "you're not famous anymore". And a certain Mr Robert Earnshaw watching proceeding with other City squad players in a box at the rear of the Canton Stand had some kids turning to him singing, "who needs Earnie?".

City had opening to have made it 5 or 6 as players burst forward but, a couple of times, Kav got to the edge of the area and seemed to be looking to pass to someone who hadn't yet scored! The game closed quietly in terms of action but not in terms of vocal response.

It was fantastic. Players getting standing ovations at half-time, full-time, substitutions, after flowing moves and they are loving it. They all seemed to acknowledge and applaud the whole ground at final whistle, these were the same players who couldn't wait to get off the pitch a month ago. West Ham players came and congratulated them too, realising they were a well beaten side.

West Ham fans slated their own team but I honestly didn't think they were that bad but so clearly second best to a side in surpeme form on the night. They would still have been comprehensively beaten if they had North, South and East Ham with them too!

Thanks Cardiff City - that was magic and I'm still smiling about it.

Report from FootyMad
A super four-goal salvo gave the Bluebirds a resounding victory over high-flying West Ham.

Strikes from Alan Lee, Joe Ledley, Paul Parry and Jobi McAnuff gave City a well-deserved victory over a Hammers side that struggled to keep up with the pace of the new-look Bluebirds.

For 17-year-old Ledley, it was his first senior goal while McAnuff opened his City account by scoring against his former club.

It was same again for City, as Lennie Lawrence kept faith with the side that drew with Leicester at the weekend. The Hammers had Welsh international Carl Fletcher in a strong midfield.

One-time City target Luke Chadwick hit a crisp shot over the bar in the second minute but the Bluebirds went straight up the other end to open the scoring.

Hayden Mullins was dispossessed by Parry who went to the byline before squaring the ball to Lee, who slotted home at the far post.

City doubled their lead in the 15th minute when Ledley found the net. McAnuff flighted over a cross, the youngster brought it down before turning Hammers defender Tomas Repka, and firing home.

Cardiff almost added another goal on the half-hour when McAnuff was brought down just outside the area. Gary O'Neil's cleverly flighted free-kick struck the woodwork before being cleared by the over-worked visitors defence.

A Fletcher corner spelt danger for the hosts, and O'Neil made a goal-line clearance, but Matthew Etherington sent the ball back in only for City skipper Graham Kavanagh to head clear.

McAnuff was relishing playing against his former club, and a darting run in the 50th minute earned a corner, but Lee's header was safely gathered by the keeper.

Alan Pardew brought on Don Hutchison for the ineffective Chadwick a minute later, but City put the game beyond the visitors with a superb strike from Parry in the 54th minute.

Lee threaded a ball through and the former Hereford man slotted in at the far post beyond the diving Stephen Bywater.

As the Londoners pushed forward, City gave away too many free-kicks and this kept them pinned back in their own half for several minutes.

Midway through the second half, Marlon Harewood dashed down the right flank before cutting inside where he was upended by Kavanagh. Harewood picked himself up and fired the spot-kick into the corner of the net.

Pardew decided to go for broke by taking off defender Mullins and brining on Sergei Rebrov in the 73rd minute, but back roared the Bluebirds and O'Neil and Parry combined, before McAnuff turned the ball in at the near post to make it the heaviest defeat of the season for the visitors.

External reports
The Independent
West Ham Official site
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Western Mail