Moore Than Just A Club

Classic Match: Volume Seventeen: West Ham United 3-1 Watford April 2016

In the seventeenth edition of our Classic Match series, we delve into the archives once more to relive with you a memorable match from down the years. This time around it features Saturday’s visitors to the London Stadium in the Premier league, Watford.

Cast your minds back to the late spring of 2016, “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner was at the very summit of the British Music Charts and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was about to celebrate her 90th birthday.

Meanwhile, in the world of football and more specifically, the Premier League, West Ham United were enjoying their final season at the Boleyn Ground and their first under Croat boss Slaven Bilic.

And they were doing so by chasing European football in the run-in, heading into a re-arranged home clash with PL newbies Watford, the Hammers sat in sixth position, just a few points off the top four and fresh from a frustrating away draw at league leaders Leicester City.

Whereas, the travelling Hornets, under Spaniard Quique Flores, were coming to the end of their first season back in the English Top-Flight, having gained promotion from the Championship the previous season.

Ahead of the trip, the Hertfordshire team were fresh from a first league triumph in the space of six matches, coming in the form of a 0-1 besting of West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns Stadium, they occupied 12th place in the division.

The London derby was to be played out on a mild Wednesday night in East London, the third last ever Premier League match in E13, a night to cherish for all.

At the announcement of the two starting Xls an hour before the encounter was scheduled to kick-off, the danger men could be clearly spotted in both the home and away sides.

For Bilic’s boys, these included the likes of red-hot French winger Dimitri Payet and tall forward Andy Carroll, the pair had linked well in previous weeks. Whilst for Flores’ men, names such as Mario Suarez and Jose Manuel Jurado leapt out as the stars that could contribute to a potential upset.

Against the backdrop of an electric atmosphere under the Boleyn floodlights, the affair could begin and it would duly be one-way traffic right from the first whistle.

After an encouraging first ten minutes for the hosts, they took the lead with relative ease, the aforementioned duo combining to allow Carroll to get in behind and nudge the ball home past Heurelho Gomes with a magnificently delicate finish.

The home supporters were buoyed by the fast start and urged their team on in their search of a swift second, something that arrived just before the half-time mark.

A long Aaron Cresswell punt was flicked into the path of Cheikhou Kouyate by fellow Senegalese International Diafra Sakho; Jose Holebas climbed over the midfielder, hailing him to the ground and leaving Referee Mike Dean to point to the penalty spot.

It would be Skipper Mark Noble to step up and convert in trademark style, sending Gomes the wrong way and giving the team in Claret & Blue a cushion at the break.

An eventful second-half began in very much the same vein for the dominant team and within just eight minutes of it getting underway, they were able to seemingly put the game to bed.

Amen Abdi fouled the onrushing Michail Antonio as he entered the penalty area, leaving Dean with little option once more. This came moments after the visitors had spurned a huge opportunity up the other end.

Noble was the man to take yet again and just like before, he calmly converted. But just over ten minutes later, the away side were dealt a glimmer of hope when all looked lost.

Defender Sebastian Prodl got his foot to a free-kick, his volley powerful and accurate enough to beat Adrian San-Miguel between the sticks and make things interesting.

Watford were putting up a good fight in the second period and had a fantastic chance to make the scoreline a bit more respectable in added-time from the penalty spot.

Although, substitute Troy Deeney couldn’t slot home having come off the bench and, moments later, attacker Nordin Amrabat was given his marching orders for a second yellow card, capping off a night to forget for the Hornets.

The three points were enough to boost West Ham’s chances of qualifying for European Football, something they would eventually do from seventh position come May.

Whereas, a night to forget for the new blood saw them remain 12th, looking over their shoulders slightly, but they would comfortably survive in the end, finishing 13th.

However, one question remains, will it be quite as plain-sailing for David Moyes’ West Ham United when they play host to Javier Gracia’s Watford in two days’ time? Think you know? Be sure to head over to @MooreThanAClub on Twitter to cast your early score predictions and join the pre-match discussion.