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“I think his contribution to the team this season has been demonstrated in more than just his goal count”

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West Ham had to beat Leicester City in order to stop Southampton bring promoted a week prior to the end of the season. Whether Saints will slip up at home against an already relegated Coventry side is highly debatable but I’m delighted that we have pushed them to the final game.

West Ham ran out deserved winners against Leicester on Monday evening despite conceding the first goal. The reaction was pleasing to see, after the 38th minute Winston Reid equaliser there only ever looked like one winner. Sure enough, Jack Collison made a welcome return to the score sheet with a fantastic volley to win the game.

It was, yet another, fantastic away win to increase the total to 13 for the season (not to mention the fact that we’ve only been beaten four times on our travels all campaign).

Carlton Cole battled through the game whilst obviously carrying an injury. It’s testament to the man and his commitment to the side that he was willing to put his body on the line in this fashion. Cole is not without his critics but I think his contribution to the team this season has been demonstrated in more than just his goal count.

Opposition teams set-up against West Ham to nullify Cole’s impact on the game. There is a rarely a time when the ball is played to Cole and he doesn’t have two centre backs and possibly even a defensive midfielder marking him. Against Leicester, this allowed Vaz Te, in particular the space to attack down the flanks whilst the defenders man marked Cole.

Some of the first touches displayed, despite the marking he was placed under, were excellent and allowed a respite from the occasional spells of Leicester pressure. Carlton Cole may not be the world’s best striker but his ability to take the ball on his chest, knee or foot and feed the oncoming midfielders is a huge bonus and I’m grateful we’ve had his services this season.

And so on to next Saturday. We could be promoted on points, goal difference or goals scored. We could also fail to be promoted automatically for all the same reasons. It’s certainly going to be a tense affair in Southampton as well as at the Boleyn. Fans of both clubs will desperately be trying to find out what is going on in the other game (though personal radio set’s may have been replaced with smartphones since the last time we were battling for second place in the second tier of the league!). The odds are heavily against us gaining automatic promotion admittedly, but a good win against Hull regardless of the Southampton result would set us up nicely for a play-off semi-final. Given the performances of late I fancy us against anybody over two legs. Let’s see what happens.

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