Hull vs West Ham Review :Enner Valencia, Abel Hernadez : A Debeautiful game
Enner Valencia’s early contender for Goal of the season was the highlight of a game that will have given both managers belief that their new signings could be ready to make an instant impact and kick start their season.
Two weeks after the Transfer window shut it was finally time for many deadline line day signings to make their debuts, giving a sense of excitement and renewed hope around the grounds. Nowhere was this more apparent than at the KC Stadium.
West Ham were the visitors to Hull and both teams had an abundance of new talent ready to unleash on their opponents. Both sets of fans will have been purring at their benches with Hatem Ben Arfa and Alex Song sat one in each dugout like coiled springs ready for action.
On the pitch, both teams had exciting new forward lines with Hull’s new £10 million striker Abel Hernadez partnering Nikica Jelavic upfront and Sam Allardyce giving a start to the Ecuadorian Valencia in an attack minded team that also included new signings Mauro Zarate and Diafra Sakho. This game promised to be exciting with all Steve Bruce’s new talent and Big Sam’s attacking line up, but perhaps the most interesting of the debuts was Mo Diame, two weeks ago the powerhouse of West Ham’s midfield and today making his Hull debut against his former colleagues. It was to be a night these players would remember as one by one they took their turn to shine.
The opening exchanges set the tone of the match, two lively teams, organised and looking to attack at pace. Hull started the quickest and very soon Stephen Quinn and left back Andrew Robertson were looking to create down the left with one early cross from Robertson causing uncertainty for the West Ham defence. The Hammers soon found some rhythm and started to attack, Zarate and Stewart Downing were getting control of the midfield and soon Downing’s pass would set up Sakho, only for the striker to snatch at the chance and fire wide. These two would be involved again in the Hammers best chance of the half as the game started to heat up. With West Ham using the wings to stretch Hull chances had to come and they did with a Downing cross from the left finding Valencia at the back post, his header across goal found Sakho who had to score but somehow Allan McGregor kept the ball out with a great save.
This was a turning point for Hull who, almost immediately, went up the other end to score and it was that Man Hernandez who got it. With the ball on the right hand side Ahmed Elmohamady joined the attack before swinging over the cross that was met with powerful header into the corner. Now high on confidence he almost doubled his tally before the break with a stunning 20 yard strike that struck the crossbar before Jelavic buried the rebound, only to be given offside. Half time couldn’t come soon enough for Allardyce.
Whatever was said during the break certainly worked, as West Ham came out to attack and within 5 minutes they were level and what a goal it was. Picking the ball up on the left hand side Valencia cut inside as the defence stood off him, before unleashing a rocket of a shot which almost broke the net. You will have to watch a lot games to see a better strike than that this season.
With the game now alive and West Ham looking on top, it was Diame’s turn to shine. Rookie errors in the defence gave him the chance, after stealing the ball ahead of a static Cheikhou Kouyate, his powerful run took him into the box before a finish that any striker would be proud of.
How would West Ham respond having been caught with this sucker punch? The answer was almost instant. Again it was Downing the creator and once more Sakho the target, this time he kept his head and his low shot across goal slid past McGregor, hitting Curtis Davies before going in. Cruel on Davies it was, but just 3 minutes on and deservedly they were level.
With both teams exchanging control, the game calmed down and it was now time for the substitutions to change the game. Both managers played all their cards with Song and Ben Arfa getting on the pitch with debuts for Gaston Ramirez and Carl Jenkinson too. But by now the game was heading for a draw with both teams trying hard but unable to break each other down.
One last piece of excitement saw Valencia beat McGregor to a downing cross, only for Michael Dawson somehow to knock the ball onto the crossbar and safety. A spectacular ending it would’ve been, but harsh on Hull.
The positives for both managers will be obvious, Big Sam will be happy his team look like they have goals in them but will want to cut out the errors that led to Hull’s second and Steve Bruce will have enjoyed his new strike partnership. A point each was a fair result, but with both teams looking capable of winning this game only time will tell if it was a point gained or two dropped.