Sadly, I'm only able to rely on TV highlights for this game, but I know some people who were there and they tell me a 'best bits only' package would still produce a show of well over 45 minutes; a shame then that Match of the Day saw fit to lead with the 2-2 draw between Manchester City and Liverpool, a game that Radio 5Live described as 'simply awful'. Still, we wouldn't want to deny a large proportion of the country a chance to see the usual clubs and the usual tedium so we'll just have to make do with what we have.
So what have we? Well, it was on before Chelsea and Manchester United, I suppose...
To the game itself though, the Hammers were 2-0 up inside of 11 minutes - yes that's 11 minutes - 3-2 down by half time, level again after 70 minutes and unlucky not to win it late on when Stanislas headed over when unmarked inside the six yard box and Collison had the keeper scrambling to save; a play not even thought worthy of a mention in the MOTD highlight but which I'm told was very close. There was the usual penalty controversy and further proof of my now galloping theory that refs 'right a wrong by denying a right'.
West Ham began the game on the attack and Cole was unlucky to see a shot charged down in the opening minutes. From the resulting corner though, Franco got ahead of his marker to head home. Hull came close soon after with a bit of penalty pinball before Fagan shot wide and the miss looked costly as the Hammers went two up when a Franco cross found the head of Collison who cleverly nodded over Hull keeper Duke who had come too far forward. The visitors held the lead until the half-hour mark when Hull were rightly awarded a free kick and ex-Hammer Jimmy Bullard hit a speculative shot that managed to hit two West Ham players before looping over Green for what can only be called a fluke.
It's always galling paying good money for a player you have let go when they were younger but I was always surprised that West Ham didn't try to prise Bullard away from Fulham when he was playing at Craven Cottage, and even more surprised when the midfielder moved to Hull without any interest registering from the Boleyn ground. Bullard is a player who can inspire players around him - as was shown today as he single-handedly dragged Hull back into the game - and I still hope to see him in claret and blue one day - hell! he's only just got back from injury so already has the usual Hammers jinx!
At 2-1 came the first penalty controversy as Parker was hauled down on the edge, probably just inside, of the penalty area. The Hammers midfielder was livid and it was difficult to see why a foul wasn't given even if it was a free-kick on the edge of the area - the usual ref get-out decision. Worse was to follow though as Stanislas gave away a needless foul for shirt pulling and the whipped in free kick was volleyed home well by Zayatte, although the defence should have cleared.
As at Sunderland the other week when it was to their detriment and Arsenal before that, when the decision was in their favour, the Hammers had been involved in a lost two goal lead and the players must have been looking forward to regrouping at half-time when they actually found themselves behind. This time the referee blew for a foul when - somehow, some way - the official believed he had witnessed a foul by Faubert on Fagan. The official Soccernet report says Fagan 'went down easily' but this hardly does justice to the decision when seen on TV. In fact, Fagan jumps and Faubert stands still causing the Hull striker to fall over. A terrible decision and I can only think that referee Mark Clattenburg must have been watching Faubert in recent games and just assumed the Frenchman must have committed a foul, so inept was the decision. Bullard volleyed home the penalty with Green complaining that the Hull players had encroached - which they had - but, as by the time the ball was struck virtually both sides were in the area, there seems little point in complaining about it.
The game took another turn shortly after half-time when Mendy clearly bought down Scott Parker when the Hammers midfielder was bearing down on goal after a neat midfield pass. It was a clear foul by the last man in a certain goalscoring opportunity and Mendy rightly saw red to again, leave the Hammers in a position they have seen quite a lot this season; the ten man against eleven nightmare. This time though, it worked in the Irons favour as, following a continued spell of pressure where Stanislas went close, Da Costa hit home when Hull failed to clear a corner. It was 3-3 and all to play for when the third controversial penalty shout occurred when Matthew Upson was adjudged not to have committed a foul on the wonderfully named, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. It looked a certain penalty to be honest and, once again, I can only assume Clattenburg had seen the two first half incidents and decided not to bother this time. Wrong decision on the incident but justice was done in view of Faubert's non-foul (is that a word?).
After this incident, it was West Ham who finished the stronger and could, and perhaps should, have taken all three points. Even so, the draw was probably a better result for the Hammers as it moved them out of the bottom three and ensured Hull didn't gain too much of an advantage over them. I can't see any way that the Tigers won't be involved in the relegation shakedown and it's good that no gap is allowed to open up.
The Hammers defensive frailties are still a concern but I think we're not going to solve them until the transfer window so it was at least good to see the side scoring and creating chances nevertheless we need to nip in the bud the annoying habit of throwing leads away. Onward!