|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Brown Ideye continues scoring streak to fire West Brom past West Ham
Paul Wilson at The Hawthorns for the Guardian
Published Saturday 14 February 2015 14.50 GMT
The £10m Nigerian striker was supposedly on his way out of the Hawthorns bound for Qatar until West Brom’s attempt to sign Carlton Cole fell through on deadline day, and credits Tony Pulis for reinvigorating his career. The West Brom manager, it appears, can breath new life into almost anything, which is why the midlands was full of talk that Aston Villa were considering buying him out before the Tim Sherwood appointment was confirmed. Sherwood is not yet the sort of name to make Villa hearts beat faster, whereas Pulis has a proven record that speaks for itself.
West Brom are unrecognisable from the lifeless, directionless basket case they appeared to be before Pulis arrived. They pulverised West Ham here, playing neat, forceful football that the visitors simply could not match.
The Pulis plan is familiar enough by now. First he tightens the defence, keeping a solid rearguard back to deny opponents space, then he employs players who can break out quickly and hurt teams on the counter.
In midfielders such as Craig Gardner and James Morrison he has the ideal means of turning defence into attack because both have an excellent passing range and an eye for goal, even if neither is the quickest. “This team has different strengths to what I had at Stoke and Palace,” Pulis said. “I usually like pace down the sides but we don’t have that here. We have trickery, but not pace, and you have to find a way to work with the players you have got.”
Pulis is happy that Ideye remains one of those, and denies he was about to sell him at a loss in January. “We wanted Carlton Cole as a fourth striker, we didn’t particularly want to lose Brown because he’s a good lad,” the West Brom manager said. “It would have taken a really special offer for us to let him go..He’s like a new signing for us at the moment, and the difference is confidence. That’s what a couple of goals can do for a striker.”
It was a long, accurate, diagonal ball from Craig Gardner that set up the first goal. Aaron Cresswell’s half-hearted challenge was never going to prevent Craig Dawson bearing down on goal, and after brushing the West Ham defender aside the full back looked up to find Ideye waiting on the six-yard line for a first-time finish. James Morrison saw a shot saved by Adrián before Gardner rattled the west Ham crossbar with a terrific effort from 25 yards out.
That should have been a warning to the visitors, for when Morrison rode a midfield challenge from Mark Noble Adrián had no chance with a sweetly struck drive that found the inside of his left upright.
Any West Ham hopes of a second half recovery were snuffed out by Ideye’s second of the afternoon after an hour, initially missing a Chris Brunt cross from the left but hanging around in front of goal to beat Adrián with a header when Stéphane Sessègnon chased down the loose ball and sent over a cross from the right. If that was the sort of defending to send Sam Allardyce into apoplexy and his afternoon was about to get even worse. First Diafra Sakho saw a header cleared off the line in a rare West Ham attack, then when the striker was substituted for Cole and Alex Song replaced by Joey O’Brien, the visiting fans made their dissatisfaction heard.
Another substitute, Morgan Amalfitano, marked his return to the Hawthorns by getting sent off after a mere 10 minutes on the field, first taking Brunt’s legs from behind then compounding the misdemeanour by pushing the player in the face in front of the referee when his opponent had the temerity to object.
When Saido Berahino slipped in a fourth goal from a narrow angle a minute later it was almost an afterthought to a contest already won. The noise from the West Ham end suddenly began to decrease at that point, because with 20 minutes remaining, around half of the travelling supporters had left the stadium. Many thought this Cup tie might have been close. In fact it was almost a walkover.
Allardyce thought the first goal was offside – the linesman seemed to correctly judge it as level – but accepted West Brom were vastly superior.
“Apart from the first goal the rest of it was down to us not being able to cope,” the West Ham manager said. “This was a game too far with the fixtures we have just had and the injury list: the players were dead on their feet. I can understand the fans being disappointed, when 6,500 travelled up here to see a performance not as good as it should be, but I’m going to defend my players. They couldn’t cope with the fixture list.”
Some of the abuse was personal, but Allardyce has heard it all before. “I can’t afford to be disappointed,” he said. “It’s not professional.”