By David Blackmore, Editor of Blowing Bubbles Monthly
at Upton Park for CandH
For 82 minutes I was struggling to think of anything Nikica Jelavic had done before his fine finish.
He was a ghost. Invisible. A passenger. I was struggling to give him more than two out of 10 and that was purely for just turning up.
He had an absolute nightmare of a game. Yes, he does deserve credit for his goal and that will be what everyone will remember from this game in the weeks ahead.
I just hope Slaven doesn’t let one flash of brilliance rule over 82 minutes of inadequate play.
As for the game itself, it was the case of job done. Next round.
The first half, let’s be honest, was a snore fest. We started painfully slowly, letting Wolves spray it about for the first 10 minutes and winning all the second balls.
Zarate had a few nice touches early on – one flick to Cresswell early on was particularly sublime – but he is so one-footed it’s painful.
So poor was the opening period that the state of the pitch was the main thrust of conversation around me.
We carried a lot of passengers in the first half.
As for Jenkinson, he needs to stop playing for a while, or he needs someone to get hold of him and tell him to man up.
His body language is awful and he clearly doesn’t want to be playing for West Han United at the moment.
When the likes of Cresswell or Antonio get the ball, their first touch is out of their feet, forward and positive but Jenkinson is so negative with his play.
Confidence or no confidence, he is not doing the basic things right.
When receiving the ball in a good position, I want to see him taking his man on – not running up to him, turning back and passing backwards.
What summed up his first half was when he took the ball down nicely and smashed it goalwards only for their keeper to knock it over.
Great play, crowd applauds and yet his body language was of someone who just didn’t want to be there.
When we finally chugged into the game, Song and Obiang had a few nice touches. Noble too.
Certainly the final 20 minutes we dominated possession. We sprayed it from left to right nicely but offered nothing up top in the final third.
Antonio was really the only spark in the final third for the first half.
Our only saving grace in the first half was that Reid and Collins were absolute rocks at the back and never looked threatened.
It really was a case of more of the same in the second half until the introduction of Dimitri Payet.
The fact the biggest cheer of the game was for the Frenchman pretty much sums up the game up to that point.
Payet, and the introduction of Carroll minutes later, swung the game towards West Ham. Without them, we wouldn’t have won.
Winston Reid got Man of the Match but for me, Pedro Obiang was our standout performer.
He didn’t put a foot wrong. He was involved in everything going forward and put in some great challenges at the other end.
Randolph: Didn’t have much to do. Made a couple of good saves. 6
Cresswell: Nothing special from Aaron but was streets ahead of Jenkinson. Usual shift. 6
Reid: Was a rock at the back. Never looked under any threat from Wolves. 7
Collins: Along with Reid, was very strong. Won a lot of headers and made some excellent challenges. 7
Jenkinson: Time for a reality check Carl. He needs to sit down and think about what he really wants. 3
Noble: Struggled. Didn’t quite seem at the races. Huffed and puffed but end product wasn’t great. 5
Obiang: Outstanding performance. Excellent touches, moved the ball quickly, asked questions of their ‘keeper. 8
Song: Tried to make too many “wonder” passes. Did well to get the ball down at times when it was pinging about. 6
Antonio: Another impressive display. Was the only spark in the final third for a huge chunk of the game. 7
Zarate: One moment of class followed by poor play. Helped us get into game but was too predictable, too often. 5
Jelavic: Superb match-winning goal. Did nothing up to that point. 5
Payet: Changed the atmosphere in the ground when he came on. Looked like he was going to make things happen. 7
Carroll: He did everything Jelavic didn’t. Superb performance off the bench. 7