West Ham’s high class Taylor returns with first-class delivery

Hammers midfielder Matt Taylor was back in the starting line-up for Tuesday’s win at Middlesbrough

West Ham winger Matt Taylor returned with a bang at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night with the sort of performance that has already made him a crowd favourite.

The 29-year-old former Bolton star took just nine minutes to leave an indelible mark on West Ham’s latest Championship clash and it was with one of his trademark pinpoint crosses.

Taylor had already stung the fingers of goalkeeper Jason Steele and then delivered a ball inches over the head of striker Freddie Piquionne, when he got it spot on.

The ball came in from the left almost on a silver salver and the French striker rose highest to head the ball home and put the Hammers in front.

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“The cross was all right,” laughed the modest Taylor after Tuesday’s 2-0 win, “It is what I am there for really and I enjoyed seeing the ball go in, that’s for sure.”

Piquionne was slightly more animated about the pass. “I had two chances from Matt,” said the striker. “He is very good at crossing and he said to me before the game to go and get in the box and when I saw him the second time, I moved into position so he could give me the ball.

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“I jumped and scored the goal. I was very happy to do that.”

It was Taylor’s sixth assist of the season to put him well clear of his team-mates, despite twice being hit by calf injuries so far this term.

“The calf felt okay,” said Taylor after the Boro clash. “I was quite happy to be back in amongst it and back in the side to get the chance to play.”

West Ham’s strikers must be pleased he is there too. You can’t really say that Taylor has been sorely missed, because the results have kept on coming for the Hammers.

But when he is in the West Ham side, you can see his class and his set-piece delivery is second to none.

The winger helped his team end Middlesbrough’s unbeaten home record and he was quick to extol the virtues of the team’s performance.

“It is a great result and it just shows you what a great squad we have got here,” said Taylor.

“We have made three or four changes from Saturday and still managed a result like this one and we are going to need that squad if we are going to do things in the Championship.”

West Ham sit second in the table, but Taylor is not counting his assists, or his chickens concerning their fate this season.

“It is very important to keep up there and keep winning,” he said. “Southampton are winning, but we want to go into the next few fixtures in good shape and we are doing that.

“There is still a long way to go though. I think the season is only just a third of the way through, but we want to make sure we get one of those two automatic places nailed down.”

After Taylor set up Piquionne for the first, Carlton Cole’s clincher in injury time was all his own work and the West Ham winger was full of praise for the England international striker.

“Coley has done exceptionally well this season,” said Taylor. “There was a lot of press speculation when I arrived that he was going to leave in the summer, but his attitude has been first class and the club are now reaping the rewards of holding on to him.

“Carlton loves West Ham, he always has done and I think he probably could have gone elsewhere, but he wanted to show his worth here and he has done.

“The lads are very grateful that he did.”

The West Ham lads will be very grateful that Taylor is fit and back in the starting line-up, because when he is on song and delivering those telling crosses and set-pieces, the chances are that the Hammers will be winning.

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