Hammers take London pride after Lions tamed
By Tom Dowsett
Wednesday 26 Aug 2009 11:34:00
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Well...what a night! Walking to Upton Park was a particularly chastening experience compared to normal as Millwall desceneded on East London.

The atmosphere was not the sort you would usually expect from in and around the Boleyn Ground and instead of singing and the sense of excitement, all feeling was replaced with a somewhat nervous anticipation that only this local derby appears to bring.

With the extra security that was employed as a result of this tie, many supporters, myself included, were moved from their normal seats in order to accomodate a method of segregation to avoid the possibility of any crowd trouble inside the ground. This may have lead to signs of ill-feeling but the thankfully both supporters were successfully kept apart in the 120 minutes of passionate football that ensued at Upton Park.

 

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With an already highly-charged atmosphere in the stadium, the visitors took the lead in the 26th minute when Neil Harris broke from his marker following a Scott Barron long throw and swept the ball low past Robert Green.

West Ham continued to lack ideas for the rest of the half and most of the second period, while manager Gianfranco Zola became increasingly frustrated with his side's inabilty to create any clear-cut chances.

This prompted a change at half time, when Zola handed Zavon Hines a chance to shine in attack in place of Josh Payne, who made his first start for the club. Increasingly desperate in the search to find a goal, the hosts switched to three up front, bringing on Frank Nouble, and the pressure started to tell. Jack Collison smashed a shot against the post, and Junior Stanislas' play became more influential on the wing. Eventually it was Academy graduate Stanislas who grabbed the equaliser, converting a Julien Faubert cross.

In what was becoming a disturbing night for the West Ham hierachy, a number of individuals burst on the pitch from the stands to celebrate with the Hammers players, taking hoardes of stewards and riot police to remove them from the playing surface. With the game going into extra time, Stanislas scored the goal that put the hosts in front for the first time converting a penalty, after Millwall skipper Andrew Frampton had handled. Once again the pitch was invaded and the horrible scenes continued, in actions that the Football Association will view in great detail before handing out any punishments to the club.

The game appeared to be over moments later as substitute Hines contributed a classy to finish to make it 3-1. Harsh on Millwall after their valiant efforts but the class and fitness of the Premier League side eventually told.

After the game, incidents again took place outside the stadium making very hard for the geniune supporters to leave safely.

A game that should have been remembered for its wonderful football and high level commitment will be forgotten. Instead it will be the actions of the many individuals intent on causing trouble who will make the headlines. West Ham progress to the next round of the Carling Cup, but one feels that the club will be hit very hard by the relevant authorities for actions off the pitch.

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