Everton Comeback Stuns Ten-Man West Ham In Boleyn Ground Thriller
In the fourth Volume of our weekly Classic Match series, we delve deep into the archives once more to relive with you, another memorable West Ham United clash from down the years, this time around, the opponents were last Sunday’s final opposition of the 2017/2018 Premier League season, Everton.
Cast your minds back to the late summer of 2013, “Roar” by Katy Perry was at the very summit of the United Kingdom Music Charts and Firefighters in England and Wakes were about to stage a four-hour strike over their pension plans.
Meanwhile, in the world of football and more superficially, the Premier League, Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United were enjoying their second season back in the big time following promotion from the Championship.
However, the club had not got the season off to a positive start, sitting tenth heading into the fifth league match of the season at home to Everton, having only won once and not scored since the opening day and last time out, drew 0-0 away at Southampton.
Meanwhile, the Toffees in their first campaign without David Moyes at the helm in 11 years, were enjoying quite the opposite in terms of their fortunes, unbeaten so far.
Under Roberto Martinez, they had most recently defeated Chelsea on home soil, winning three points that took them up to ninth, off the back of drawing their first three games of the campaign.
The encounter between the two mid-table teams was to be played out on a mild September day at the Boleyn Ground with kick-off at 3 PM on a Saturday afternoon, a traditional time.
All was poised for a keenly-contested battle between two evenly-matched sides and this was exactly what 34,000-odd fans inside Upton Park got, one of the great meetings between the two teams.
When the two starting Xls were announced in East London, an hour prior to kick-off, the danger men could be clearly spotted in both home and away sides, the players with the capabilities to change and impact the match profoundly.
For the home side, these included the likes of ex-Manchester United youngster Ravel Morrison, who was beginning to find first-team chances and free-scoring captain Kevin Nolan, while for the visitors, names such as attacking full-back Leighton Baines and exciting midfielder Ross Barkley fitted this billing.
As the game got underway against the backdrop of a trademark Upton Park atmosphere, both sets of players went out with attack in mind, producing an end-to-end thriller.
The Toffees were the first to threaten, looking to test out home goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and doing so through Kevin Mirallas, but the Finn was up to the task of saving.
It wouldn’t be long before the Hammers started to threaten more and more and, eventually, take the lead, just after the half-hour mark with their best attacking movement of the match thus far, even if it did have stroke of fortune about it.
The run and pass of winger Matt Jarvis down the left side found Morrison in the middle, he turned goalward and proceeded to try his luck with a low effort that clipped defender Phil Jagielka on the way through, dumfounding Tim Howard and putting the home side one to the good.
This was the way that things would stay going into half-time and Allardyce could afford to be the much happier of the two managers, given the way that his players had played up until that point.
Seeking a way back into the affair in the second period, the decisive visiting manager Martinez opted for a double-change in personnel, one of the entrees being new signing Romelu Lukaku, who later, would have a huge part to play.
For now, though, the Toffees were able to draw themselves level within 25 minutes of the restart, and in stunning style too, Baines striking a delectable free-kick into the very top corner from 30 yards out, a sign of things to come.
The even nature of the affair continued throughout the second period and this became evident with the hosts claiming a wonderful opportunity to restore their lead on 76 minutes.
Skipper Nolan weaved away from Toffees in the box, only to be pulled down by one of them, James McCarthy, with referee Lee Mason showing very little hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Vice-skipper Mark Noble stepped up and with ease, sent Howard the wrong way to covert his third spot-kick in succession and score the goal that looked like it had delivered three points to his boyhood club, thought.
Noble was involved yet again just over five minutes later, this time making a significant error by bringing down Barkley on the edge if his own penalty area, not only had he conceded a dangerous free-kick but also earnt himself a second yellow card and was off.
Baines addressed the set-piece and delicately stroked the ball into the back of the net via the inside of Jaaskelainen’s left-hand post, very much the same story as last time, the Everton comeback was on.
The fightback would be completed under 120 seconds later when substitute Lukaku, making his debut from the Blue Boys of Merseyside having signed on loan from Chelsea, stamped his pivotal mark on the game.
The Belgian nodded a Mirallas cross home from close-range with impressive accuracy and power, that would be enough for his new team to wrap up the three points with six minutes to spare.
A thrilling afternoon at Upton Park for the Toffees and the victory they managed to salvage took them up four places in the table to fifth, while a tough pill to swallow for the Hammers meant that they fell three places to 13th position.
That very spot would be where West Ham would ultimately stay in the standings, surviving a tricky relegation battle to get to that 40 points mark, finishing the campaign strongly after a worrying few months.
Whereas, the Blues had no such problems for here on in, managing to secure a fifth-place finish and Europa League football under Martinez, in the end, Everton were a mere seven points away from UEFA Champions League qualification.