We have lift off – Thornton Heath FC 0, Hammers 1

Regular readers of my musings will know that there is no team I cannot stand more than Thornton Heath FC. Some may refer to these clowns as Crystal Palace. I loathe them more than Utd, Spuds, in fact any team in the world.

So it is always a source of tension when we play them away from home. A few years ago, it was dead easy to get an away ticket and I was 99% confident of getting a seat in the Arthur Waite stand. Nowadays, it is more or less impossible due to the points priority system – all those away games in the Championship in 2003 seems to have gone to nothing.

For once the Hammers looked good this season. A good solid unit which barely gave THFC a chance to get a touch within the the first 15 minutes. What was really pleasing to see was the return of the much missed Aaron Cresswell. The boy was running his socks off having come back from injury in pre-season and immediately we looked just that bit better.

It was on 18 mins that the Cresswell contribution really come about. His assist was created through superb build up play via Payet and Obiang (who seems to have come of age thankfully) and Lanzini getting the ball home with a deft left footed shot.

Hammers in front and the contingent from Croydon quiet.

The first half lived up to its frenzy of momentum when Ogbonna was judged to have brought down Benteke in the box. Now this man has been on fire over the last few weeks netting a hat-trick against Gibraltar on international duty, so it was expected for him to level up the score from the spot – instead he chooses to poof it wide. Wonderful stuff and the very few people I know on FB who support Croydon’s finest go very quiet.

Second half Palace step up a  gear and it showed. Loads of bodies at the back defending that precious one goal lead. Antonio hits the woodwork and then on 74 mins Cresswell gets sent off for a second bookable. I don’t think it warranted a card at all – harsh decision – Lino gets it all wrong TBH. And then almost immediately from the free kick Tonka – now at Palace – almost scores.

Down to 10 for the last 15 and it is nervy stuff as THFC can sense a draw out of the game. Adrian saves dramatically int he 92nd minute – the Alamo being thrown at the Hammers. But we survived and a much welcome win at last.

This was a very pleasing display by West Ham- for once I thought that we thoroughly deserved the win. It was a more solid performance and no doubt helped by the industry of Cresswell on the left flank. Even the much criticised Zaza put in a shift and went some why to justifying the hype. Whether or not we will sign him I don’t know – there is still some convincing and a few goals are needed, so let’s see – if he plays a certain number of games, we are obliged to sign him. Reid was a tower at the back in the game. Could this be a turning point?

But the next game is against Soon-dar-lann at home and a much needed win is necessary again. We have hauled ourselves out of the relegation zone thankfully, but cannot rely on others doing us a favour by losing. I am hoping that the red for Cresswell will get appealed against as I really don’t think it was warranted.

But as Slav has changed the formation to 3-5-2, this seems to have had a positive effect. Long may this continue.

In Slaven We Trust.

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic told BT Sport: “We showed everything, character, spirit, we deserved to win. The goal we scored was an amazing move from many players.

“For me it was a penalty on Cresswell and then the second yellow card is very harsh – never a second yellow card, never.

“Now that Aaron was back we made a little gamble because we didn’t expect him to be totally match fit, but he had a great game.

“We need more than one game, more than one win. We showed how good a team we are and how good a unit we are.”

Crystal Palace: Mandanda; Ward, Tomkins, Delaney, Kelly (Fryers 46); Townsend, Ledley (Cabaye 46), McArthur (Wickham 70), Puncheon, Zaha; Benteke
Subs not used: Hennessey, Campbell, Lee, Sako

Bookings: Benteke

West Ham: Adrian; Reid, Ogbonna, Kouyate, Antonio, Cresswell, Obiang, Noble, Lanzini (Nordtveit 88), Payet (Fernandes 79); Zaza (Calleri 86)
Subs not used: Spiegel, Feghouli, Collins, Fletcher

Bookings: Noble, Ogbonna, Cresswell
Red Card: Cresswell

Referee: Martin Atkinson





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