Classic Match Volume Eight: West Ham United 3-3 West Bromwich Albion December 2013

West Ham United

In the eighth edition of our Classic Match Series, we take you back in time once more to relive a memorable encounter with tonight’s visitors to the London Stadium in the form of West Bromwich Albion.

Cast your minds back to the bitter winter of 2013, “Skyscraper” by X Factor winner Sam Bailey was on top of the British Music Charts and the death of former West Ham United star Andy Malcolm had just been announced.

Meanwhile, in the world of Football, the 2013/2014 Premier League campaign was fast reaching its half-way point and more specifically in East London, the Hammers were struggling with Sam Allardyce at the helm.

After a sluggish start to the season, they sat in 19th position, firmly inside the Relegation Zone and firmly in trouble heading into a festive clash with West Brom at Upton Park.

The Irons were fresh from a Boxing Day home loss to Arsenal just two days earlier, whilst the Baggies had earned a respectable draw away at White Hart Lane in their last outing on the same day.

Under the guidance of Caretaker Manager Keith Downing, they occupied 15th position and were comfortable out of danger for the meantime, arriving in East London as the favourites.

The interesting matchup was to be played on a sunny Saturday afternoon and featured as Sky Sports’ live early kick-off game, giving it that extra edge a mere three days after Christmas.

At the announcement of the two starting line-ups, the danger men were clear to see in each of the two sides, the likes of striker Carlton Cole and Mo Diame posing threats for the host, while Skipper Chris Brunt and pacey forward Saido Berahino looked dangerous for the away team.

With the scene set, the clash could begin with the backdrop of a noisy Boleyn Ground and those vocal home supporters had something to cheer about after just four minutes.

Captain Kevin Nolan fed fellow veteran Joe Cole in on the right side, the former Chelsea man keeping a cool head to slot home into the back of the net past visiting keeper Ben Foster.

However, the dream start would be taken apart before half-time arrived send it began with the Throstles drawing level as Nicolas Anelka benefited from a Brunt ball through to edge it past Jussi Jaaskelainen and draw level.

The complexion of the game was completely changed on the stroke of the break when Anelka popped up once more, this time bundling the ball home from a corner after Cole’s goal-line block, the visitors led.

But, such was the characteristics of the end-to-end affair, it took Allardyce’s men all of 20 second-half minutes to level through Modibo Maiga, the Mali man receiving a Nolan pass and striking into the far corner from range, a rare goal for him.

Less than 120 seconds later, the hosts amazingly made it 3-2, a much more recognisable figure getting on the scoresheet this time in Man of the Match Nolan.

The attacking midfielder was first to a Maiga headed-effort in the wake of a Mark Noble cross, slamming a volley home to alter the direction of the tie yet again.

But, the racy affair’s drama would not end there and before the 70 minute-mark had even come up, the Midlands club had drawn level once more, a certain young talent with it.

In what was surely the pick of the strikes, Berahino picked up the ball on the edge if the area and drove to the left, getting a deadly shot off that cannoned off the far post and in.

Surprisingly, both team’s defences stood firm in the final 20 minutes to see the match out for a pulsating 3-3 draw, it left the Irons in 19th and moved WBA up a place to 14th.

As Pepe Mel took over, they would narrowly avoid Relegation back down to the Championship and ended up in 17th place, a mere three points above Norwich City below in 18th.

Whilst things would be much more plain-sailing for the East Londoners with Allardyce in charge, going on to finish the season in 13th, a full seven points from danger.

However, one question remains, will tonight’s affair in Stratford be quite as entertaining? Stay right where you are to find out as we bring you a Live Blog of the clash, live from the London Stadium Press Box with build-up, live text commentary and reaction starting at around 5:45 PM, don’t miss it.

About the Author

Luke Glanville
Lead Writer and Site Manager of MTJAC, Sub-Editor for the Falbros Media Group.