My trip to the ground did not get off to the best of starts. Driving up the A20 I suddenly realised I hadn’t put my season ticket in my wallet. Luckily the ticket office happily issued me with a replacement.
But the day soon improved when an on fire Dean Ashton fired us two ahead in the first fifteen minutes. It has to be said that Wigan had had the better of the opening exchanges, and somehow you just knew that West Ham would revert to type and fail to get the all important third. And so it transpired.
We put together some neat one to one play, and always looked dangerous in their penalty area, but just couldn’t find the third. Wigan were by far the better side in the second half and were unlucky to come away with nothing.
Let’s face it, we were lucky to come away with all three points, but having said that, so what? It was a reasonable performance for the first game of the season and we should be grateful it was rather better than last season’s first game against Man City.
While I think of it, it was a bit odd seeing seven subs on the bench. I have to admit I wasn’t aware of that particular innovation. But it’s great, and means that a couple of the youngsters get some big match experience, even if all they do is get splinters in their arses … although I doubt there are many splinters on those new Recaro seats!
So, let’s have a look at some of the individual performances. Deano obviously gets the headlines, but he contributed far more than his two goals. He was really mobile and chased everything. I just hope he hasn’t injured too much. Carlton Cole did well in the first half. He won a lot in the air and constsntly harried. Freddie Sears looked very bright when he came on for Deano. He has beefed up a bit and is more difficult to shake off the ball. In midfield, Mark Noble was hugely disappointing and Scott Parker wasn’t his usual self. Their failure to control the agenda allowed Wigan to dominate the centre of the pitch. Matty Etherington had a storming first half but faded badly in the second. Julien Faubert was my man of the match. He put in 100% effort, was great on the wing, wasn’t afraid to shoot and had a few good dribbles. I reckon he may get 10 goals this season. In defence Lucas Neill was his normal self. He managed to get bypassed on at least half a dozen occasions. Sadly, Behrami was even worse. He was run ragged by the Wigan left winger and must have wondered what had hit him. If right back is his best position then … well, let’s not be too harsh, it was only his first game. In the centre Upson was stalwart and Davenport performed well too. And Greeny was superb.
All in all, a satisfactory start.