West Ham United 2 Cheltenham 1 match report: Sam Allardyce unlocks magic of Ravel Morrison

 

Upton Park

Being in the hat for the Capital One Cup third round is good, but what West Ham United managed tonight might be even better. Sam Allardyce gave Ravel Morrison, his brilliant prodigal 20-year-old midfielder a whole 90 minutes of football, his first West Ham start.

If anyone thought it was a risk, it certainly did not look like one. Allardyce was bountifully rewarded for his trust in Morrison, with a Man of the Match performance. Morrison made the first goal and scored the brilliant second in the 2-1 defeat of Cheltenham - which was more comfortable than it sounds - but beyond  all that the thrilling promise of the eventual unlocking of his potential.

West Ham know what a talent they have on their hands. “He is not a bad player, is he,” said assistant manager Neil McDonald afterwards. “He has scored some good goals in pre-season and he has continued that today. He has got lots of composure, he can see a final pass and he certainly make the final pass as well as score goals.”

Morrison was the biggest beneficiary of Sam Allardyce's plan to change the team. Joe Cole was the only starter who had begun either of West Ham's first two Premier League games and at first it showed.

This team of strangers could not find any early rhythm in a first half which was interrupted by stoppages, particularly as Alou Diarra, struggled for fitness and was eventually replaced.

But in Morrison, playing in central midfield but with licence to attack, they had a man to light up the football darkness. He grew into the game, increasingly confident in his ability to ghost past players. He might have had a penalty, exchanging passes with Joe Cole in the box before going down, but was instead booked for diving.

Morrison continued to threaten, showing for the ball, beating men and drawing fouls, and just in time - in the 42nd minute - West Ham were ahead. He was tripped by Russell Penn 25 yards out from goal and Ricardo Vaz Te swung the ball over the wall and into the top corner.

Within two minutes of the restart Morrison made it even clearer how comfortable he is on this stage. Receiving the ball, as ever, on the edge of the box, he shuffled to the right, darted back the other way, pursuing room to shoot, before firing the ball beyond Scott Brown into the far bottom corner, for his first West Ham goal.

From there it looked briefly as if West Ham could score as many as they wanted. Mohamed Diame shot just over before Vaz Te and Stewart Downing both just missed with headers from Matt Taylor crosses. “It should have been an easier game with more goals with the chances we created,” said McDonald.

This profligacy was risky as - out of nowhere - Cheltenham pulled a goal back. Adrian and James Tomkins left a long ball to one another, and the only solution was for the goalkeeper to hold back Sam Deering. Matt Richards converted.

It could have been tense but in fact it was not, West Ham created chances - for Collison, Diame, Rat and Taylor  - but they did not need them.

West Ham United (4-1-4-1): Adrian; Chambers, Tomkins, McCartney, Rat; Diarra (Diamé, 34); Cole (Downing, 46), Morrison, Collison, Taylor; Vaz Te. Substitutes not used Henderson, Nolan, Ruddock, Lletget, Lee.

Cheltenham Town (4-4-1-1): Brown; Lowe, Inniss, Elliott, Braham-Barrett; McGlashan, Taylor, Richards, Deering (Harrison, 63); Penn (Vincent, 83); Gornell (Kotwica, 77). Substitutes not used Roberts, Jones, Jombati, Gillespie.

Referee G Scott (Oxfordshire).

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living