Claret & Blue View: West Ham again fail to make most of first half dominance

10:46 02 April 2012

Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce

“We gifted the three points to the visitors having had control of much of the first half”

At the end of last week’s blog I suggested that West Ham needed to take six points from six against Peterborough and Reading. We took three and missing out on the other three has put a massive dent in our hopes for automatic promotion.

The game at Peterborough on Tuesday seems a decade ago having subsequently handed three points to Reading on Saturday at the Boleyn.

Credit where it’s due, Reading, on a high at the moment, kept themselves in the game and took their opportunities. West Ham really did help them out however. Defensive errors haven’t cost us too much this season (compared to previous seasons), but they certainly did on Saturday afternoon. We gifted the three points to the visitors having had control of much of the first half.

Mark Noble’s half time withdrawal had a telling impact on the game and we lost the control we had enjoyed in the first period.

Certain sections of the Boleyn crowd were bemused as to why Sam elected to add an extra defender in place of Noble. It may be viewed by some as over cautious but I can understand the reasoning behind it. Sam obviously is set on the idea that we have to have a defensive midfielder in order to allow the others in the middle freedom to attack. The only other midfield option on the bench was Henri Lansbury and I can only assume that Sam views him as too attacking minded for a holding role.

This is undoubtedly a cautious approach but I’d trust Tomkins at the base of the midfield above Lansbury, especially with the game poised at 1-2 and Reading looking dangerous on the break.

This caution from the manager however, particularly at home, is creating frustration in the stands. Sam, rightly or wrongly, thinks about not losing games first, winning games second. Saturday was just one of those days where neither plan worked.

I think the final score flattered Reading somewhat, indeed West Ham did enough to win the game in the first half but, as has become all too common in 2012, they failed to do so.

The Reading game has gone now. There’s no time to reflect on the result, to sulk or to place blame. The team, and the fans, must pick each other up, dust each other down and move on. After all, we have no divine right to walk out of this league. For the first time this season, automatic promotion isn’t in our own hands, although it is still a possibility given Reading’s final sequence of games and tendency to falter in April. If, however, we are destined to compete in the play offs then we had better make sure that we hit some form first, starting on Friday at Barnsley.

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