Monday 25 August 1969
West Ham 1 (Cross 74)
Three words that would encapsulate tonight’s match would be dour, dour, dour. There was a lack of rigor and excitement in this match as West Ham, through a rare spark of endeavor, claimed victory over their London rivals.
Arsenal seemed bereft of any ideas only claiming one true shot at goal all night, and that went well wide by Graham. That was on the hour mark, such was the poor entertainment on offer for the 39,000 strong crowd. West Ham were only a little less comatose: their first attempt at the Arsenal goal came 5 minutes before half time, when a Hurst 25 yard thunderbolt was acrobatically punched away by Wilson.
Hurst should’ve put West Ham ahead just before the hour mark when he hastily dribbled past a couple of Gunner defenders and saw himself facing Wilson. Wilson leapt off his line and smothered any attempt Hurst was about to deliver.
Hurst made amends just over a quarter of an hour before the end when he received a pass from the sprinting Cross. Hurst held on the ball long enough for Cross’ speculative run to become a serious threat to Arsenal and sent back a beautifully weighted pass straight into Cross’ path. Cross repaid that piece of skill by making sure his shot streaked past Wilson and into the Arsenal net.
West Ham led 1-0 and so it stayed, Arsenal predictably offered no fight back, only wary surrender. That’s 4 wins out of 4 at home for West Ham, who are still undefeated in the league; and for 48 hours at least are top of the table. Hopefully both sides will offer us more spark on the weekend.
West Ham: Ferguson, Bonds, Lampard, Peters, Stephenson, Moore, Best, Boyce, Brooking, Hurst, Cross.
Arsenal: Wilson, Storey, McNab, McLintock, Neil, Simpson, Robertson, George, Court, Graham, Radford.