Raggy Pushes On

Raggy Soma admits he felt right at home on Chelsea's quagmire of a pitch at the weekend.

Raggy was making his first start since the 7-1 defeat at Blackburn as Glenn Roeder switched to a wing back system, and he slotted in on the left of the three central defenders.

"It was a big surprise but I enjoyed it, although I wasn't very happy about their goal," he said. "But besides that I felt it was okay for a first game in three and a half months though it is difficult after such a length of time."

And the poor playing surface presented no difficulties for the Norwegian under-21 defender, who says: "The pitches in Norway when you get to autumn are not much better!

"You could expect it to be a little bit better but then again the weather has been bad. It wasn't the best pitch I've played on but at least it was flat!"

There was, of course, a pitch inspection before the game, and referee David Elleray could be seen deep in conversation with Paul Goddard as he tested out the surface just half an hour before the kick off.

He says: "I joked about it to my wife in the morning that now I was getting to start a game it would be called off!"

With Scott Minto - who played on the left of a three when the Hammers employed the technique in the win at Ipswich in October - out with a virus, Raggy was only too happy to step into the side.

"I found out the day before," he says, "and I wasn't fully prepared when I got the message, but I had a day and felt I was up for it.

"I really enjoyed it and it was fun to be back in the first team again.

"Glenn talked about the bits and pieces we had been working on and I was told to go out, be confident, do my job, and enjoy myself."

By the end of the afternoon he could say he had done just that, but he was unhappy with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's first half goal.

Although he looked to have done the right thing by marshalling him onto his weaker left foot, he still curled it in, and Raggy admits: "I feel I have to take the responsibility for that goal because it is my man, but that is the way you learn in the game, and fortunately it wasn't the vital goal, as we got one back and we have another game to take them on.

"That is football. You are not allowed to make too many mistakes and it is a bit annoying that the first one creates a goal, but then again it wasn't all that bad afterwards, and I felt that I put it behind me.

"There were a few mistakes and slip-ups but overall I don't think I was too bad in my first game in three and a half months.

"It was a quality finish and it also touched Michael a little bit so it probably made it dip a little bit more.

"What a magnificent player Hasselbaink is, he scored the goal that looked as if it would kick us out the cup.

"But fortunately Fredi got us back in again and we have the re-match at Upton Park. I think we are able to beat this team - we just have to show it now in front of our crowd."

He was equally impressed with Fredi's late equaliser, and says: "It was a magnificent goal - and it was so important especially after what happened to me.

"We did a good job and now we have Southampton tomorrow and Blackburn, before the replay with Chelsea - so we just have to be up for it."