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West Ham Game 1 2012

Although the weather was dark and gloomy over Upton Park there was nothing capable of breaking the spirits of the players who were ready to play on their Field of Dreams. It had been a tough start to the season for the club, having been relegated to the Championship, however The Hammers' fortunes had been transformed since and after successfully battling their way through to the play-offs they secured their place back into the Premier League thanks to a 2-1 victory over Blackpool FC at Wembley Stadium. The same drive and determination was evident in the Hammers fans as they pulled on their personalised kits and marched out of the tunnel to grace the hallowed turf. You could feel the excitement from the players and it was clear that each player was hoping to make their mark on the game at this fantastic stadium.

(Please click here for a Google Translation of this match report into Italian)

Tuesday 12th June 2011
The Boleyn Ground (Upton Park)
West Ham Utd Home vs West Ham Utd Away
Game 1
Kick Off: 10:00am
Match Officials: Val (Anekwe) Tusker, Freddie Collins, Steve Daly and John Feenstra

The Home side, wearing the famous Claret and Blue shirts, got the game underway and started well with some good passing around the middle of the park. It was however the Away team who drew first blood very early into the game. There was some great pressure on the defence by Dave Taylor and the No 7 persevered, managing to block the Home team’s attempt to clear and the loose ball was crossed in from the right hand side of the 18 yard box. The cross took an awkward deflection and fell to the unmarked Nicola Perazzini, who controlled the ball well and his right footed strike was too much for the Home keeper to stop. With the goal coming after only 49 seconds, it was almost certainly the fastest of the 2012 season as well! (0-1)

The Home team were next to have a good chance with Captain Salvatore Lepore picking up a cross on the right hand side of the 18 yard box, however he was unable to keep the ball down as his effort was sent high and wide.

Both teams were passing the ball around well, however the Home team were left sweating when they failed to deal with a long ball and Away No 10 Marco Giannini intercepted a pass just outside the 18 yard box, yet his effort was driven wide of the left hand post.

Some clever interlinking play in the middle of the park allowed Marco Giannini space but his thundering left footed, long range effort was wide of the left post.

The Home team kept the pressure on yet could not find that final pass as the Away team's defence remained steady and solid, with centre half, Dan Green, putting in some great work to deny any chances.

Another great chance for the Away team was missed after Dave Taylor picked up on a superb through ball from the middle of the park into the box. His first touch was good, however with pressure from all sides, he didn't manage to find the target as he placed his in-step shot wide of the post.

Some great team work from the Home side led to good build up play from the defence, which allowed some good width to be used. The build up of play found the ball at the feet of Matteo Bennati, whose lightning fast pace gave him space to let off a right footed strike which just crept over the bar. 

The Home team kept pressurising, with an excellent cross from the left side proving just too high for the Away No 4 to reach, but much to his delight, Matteo Bennati could not keep the ball down as his first time effort, from inside the box, went over the bar.

The Away team Goalkeeper, Nick Enright, was made to work after first seeing Matthew Smith’s effort onto the post. Enright was then forced to make a stupendous save as the No 8 collected the rebound and smashed the ball goalwards, yet it was not enough to beat the keeper who managed to close the angle and parry the shot away.

The Home team were punished shortly after, having given away a free kick in a dangerous area just outside the box. Marco Giannini stepped up and his powerful left footed strike slipped through both the wall and the hands of goalkeeper Mark Tate and crept over the line, much to the frustrations of the keeper who had been having a solid game so far. (0-2)

Away team goalkeeper, Nick Enright, was put to the test after an in-swinging cross took a wicked deflection off No 5, Martin Johnstone’s boot. The ball looped in the air and was destined for the back of the net, yet the goalkeeper back pedalled and made a fantastic leap in the air to tip the ball over the bar.

Enright’s form did not stop there, as he was tested once again by No 9 Joel Sibley, who beautifully placed a shot with his instep towards the top right hand side of the goal. Enright somehow managed to stretch toward it and a powerful hand forced the ball onto the crossbar. What a performance so far from the goalkeeper!

The Home team pressed forward and Sibley’s delicate chip through the defence left, No 11, Marco Merciadri with a one on one with the keeper. Enright did well to get a leg onto the right footed attempt and the loose ball was fired into the air in a dangerous area. The Away team’s defence reacted quickly and Alessandro Dell'Orto did well to track back and clear the ball away from danger just before Benatti could get anything on it.

Some great chances from both teams to increase the score line, yet Nick Enright’s standout performance in the first half had denied the Home team several chances to get back into the match. As it stood the Away team were comfortably ahead at half-time with a two goal cushion.

Half Time: West Ham Utd Home 0 - 2 West Ham Utd Away

Having regrouped in the dressing rooms both teams were out sharp and raring to go. Substitutions were made by both sides and it was the Away team that got the second half proceedings underway.

Both teams started the second half with the same drive and desire that had been seen from the off and it was the Home team who made the first impression on the half by finally ending their goal drought. A fresh pair of legs appeared to be the vital component in increasing their chances in front of goal. Substitute, Diego Arbore, made an instant impact having played a clever little ball with the outside of his boot out to the right wing where Matteo Benatti collected. The flying winger was then delighted to see the ball he played into the danger area catch the goalkeeper unawares and dip under the crossbar into the goal. Some might argue it was an intended cross rather than attempt on goal, but the Home team were back in the game and certainly weren't complaining! (1-2)

Diego Arbore found himself once again in the midst of the action, after a delightful through ball from Liam Bailey left him with only the keeper to beat. Having successfully rounded the keeper he was left with a tight angle to shoot, therefore he opted for the cut back but he could find no support in the box and the ball was cleared away.

Arbore was desperate to make up for his previous missed opportunity and he proceeded to make a clever turn from just outside the box and unleash a powerful right footed shot, however he was foiled again when Enright tipped the effort over the bar for a corner kick.

The Away team managed to find their rhythm again and were moving the ball around the park well. Benatti found Sibley 20 yards out and the striker burst forward and skilfully avoided a sliding tackle from the Home defence. However his touch was a little too heavy, which allowed the goalkeeper to charge out and collect the ball.

However the game was to turn in the Home team's favour shortly afterwards when Daniel Gullefer caught Benatti just outside the box, leaving the Home team with a free-kick in a very dangerous area. The impressive team Captain Salvatore Lepore stepped up and placed a sublime shot past the keeper and into the right hand side of the goal. A wonderful effort from the Captain to draw his team level with just over 20 minutes left on the clock (2-2).

Straight from the kick off Dave Taylor was caught in possession, allowing Sibley to burst down the right hand sideline. He delivered a pin point accurate cross onto the head of the lively Diego Arbore who placed his header into the bottom right hand corner of the goal, giving his side the lead for the 1st time in the game. What a comeback from the Home team! (3-2)

Both teams kept battling away, yet they couldn't break each other down, as both defences were extremely solid in keeping their opponents at bay. The full time whistle blew to end the match, with the Home team recording an excellent victory, despite being 2 goals down at half-time. However the Away team wouldn't have been disheartened by their performance on the day, as it was truly admirable, yet they were just unable to keep their lead for the duration of the 90 minutes.

Full Time: West Ham United Home 3 - 2 West Ham United Away

Man of the Match Home: Marco Merciadri
Man of the Match Away: Martin Johnstone
Moment of the Match: Nick Enright

Home Team: Mark Tate, Adam Canning, Massimo Garaventa, Modesto Troiani, Nicola Ponzani, Salvatore Lepore (C), Matthew Smith, Joel Sibley, Marco Merciadri, Matteo Bennati, Diego Arbore, Nick Phillips, Andrew Taker, Liam Bailey
Mascot: Ben Phillips

Away Team: Nick Enright, Daniel Gullefer (C), Dan Green, Martin Johnstone, James Gerken, Dave Taylor, Max Harries, Andrea Esposito, Marco Giannini, Nicola Perazzini, Alessandro Dell'Orto, Martin Johnstone, Ben Weaver and Enrico Pozzi
Mascot: Benjamin Gullefer