Noble red card costs West Ham an away win as luck runs out for brilliant Fabianski
PUBLISHED: 11:30 30 October 2018
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Hammers rearguard action is denied by cruel deflection
It is difficult to get away from the tragic events after the match, but rather than simply forget the 90 minutes beforehand, perhaps we should look at it.
It could have been a superb win for the Hammers, it so nearly was, but in the end the fates were against West Ham as they looked to cling on to their 1-0 lead.
The fact that it became a rearguard act was down to Mark Noble’s red card five minutes before the break.
I am a big fan of the West Ham skipper, but this was poor judgement as well as a poor tackle and looking at it back, it was a bad challenge right in front of the referee.
Noble himself looked shocked at the decision, but maybe because he couldn’t believe how stupid he had been.
At that point the Hammers were in front thanks to Fabian Balbuena’s first goal in claret and blue and Leicester looked bereft of ideas about how to break down the West Ham defence.
All that changed in an instant. Jamie Vardy came on at half time, the momentum was with Leicester, but even then trying to find a way past the superb Lukasz Fabianski looked a tough proposition.
Then in the final minute, West Ham’s luck changed. They had been hanging on so well and Fabianski had just made another fine save when Wilfried Ndidi’s wild shot from the edge of the box took a ridiculous deflection off Balbuena and ballooned into the far corner.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini could not believe it: “The mood in the dressing room was not that we’ve got a good point,” he said.
“Playing awat with one player less for 60 minutes of the game, most of the time you are happy with a point, but not in this case because we were very unlucky with the goal that Leicester scored and after the goal we had another opportunity to score.”
They certainly did. Perhaps Angelo Ogbonna was a little rusty when he came on with nine minutes to go.
With his first touch seconds later he headed wide when completely unmarked and then at the end, Robert Snodgrass teed him up perfectly only for the big Italian to thump over the bar.
“I’m very proud of the way the team is playing, the way the team is thinking as a big team,” said the manager. “The mentality of the players is to try to win away.
“When it was 11 v 11, we were playing really well and after that we defended very well.”
They did, but there were also one or two players who did not help the cause too much.
Without the ill Marko Arnautovic, Javier Hernandez’s job was to hold the ball up and buy some time. He never managed it.
Similarly Felipe Anderson needed to keep possession and pass to his own players! In the second half he failed on both counts.
There is only so long you can hold out when wave after wave of attacks is coming at you and only Michail Antonio is causing them any problems at the other end.
At the start, West Ham might have taken a point, at full time they could count themselves unlucky not to have got all three, but an hour after the finish, the result and the red card became a complete irrelevance.
There are more important things than a game of football.