West Ham United's Red Adair Darren Randolph on coming to the rescue... again!


Following Monday’s 3-1 West Ham United win at The Hawthorns, outgoing West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce described himself as football’s ‘Red Adair’.

But, in truth, it was Hammers goalkeeper Darren Randolph who was called in late to put out proverbial fires and come to his team’s rescue.

For the second time this year and umpteenth time in his long career, the 34-year-old was drafted into the starting XI minutes before kick-off – as he was at Everton on New Year’s Day, regular No1 Lukasz Fabianski was injured in the warm-up – and produced the goods to help his side to an important victory.

Indeed, while Tomáš Souček, Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio filled the headlines with their well-taken goals, it was arguably Randolph’s vital early second half save from Semi Ajayi that paved the way for West Ham’s win.

Speaking to West Ham TV, the softly-spoken Irishman was typically modest when asked to talk about his contribution to a success that puts the Hammers in pole position for a sixth-place finish.


Darren Randolph saves from Semi Ajayi


“It was a game we obviously needed to win,” he reflected. “We were disappointed with the last game against Brighton, so when I looked at the clock after 30 minutes I thought ‘This is not good’!

“But we managed to hang in there and in the second half we were able to handle them better physically. If we weren’t winning the first balls, we were winning the second balls and we took our chances when they came in the second half and thankfully got the win.

“It was their last home game of the season with their fans being in, so that was always going to give them a little lift and they fought well. They’ve been relegated but they’re a tough team to break down and they’ve got dangerous players who can hurt you in key areas and we really didn’t want to give them a chance to do that.

“It was important for us to get off to a good start, which I thought we did with the penalty until I saw it come back off the post!”

Fabianski’s injury was followed by Declan Rice’s third-minute penalty miss, then Souček completed an unwanted hat-trick of setbacks by diverting Matheus Pereira’s corner past a helpless Randolph.

“We were saying after the game, Lukasz got injured at the very end of the warm-up, Dec missed a penalty and then we scored an own-goal and I looked at the clock and there was about 20 minutes gone and I thought ‘Oh no’!” he said.

“But again, like I said before, we stuck in there and got the win so everyone is happy inside, even the manager, but I don’t know!”


Darren Randolph in action at West Brom


And so West Ham go into the final match of the season knowing a point or three will guarantee them sixth place.

The scenario was similar five years ago, during Randolph’s first spell at the Club, when the Irons needed a win at Stoke City on the final day to finish sixth and qualify directly to the UEFA Europa League group stage. Despite dominating the game, West Ham lost 2-1 and dropped to seventh, lost to Astra Giurgiu in the Play-Off round and the rest is history.

Unsurprisingly, Randolph did not want to be reminded of that, but he did recall being part of the team which beat Manchester United 3-2 in the final game at the Boleyn Ground that same week, and is looking forward to the prospect of playing in front of the Claret and Blue Army again.

“It was weird having fans in on Wednesday night, and I think it was only 5,500 but because we hadn’t had fans in for so long it felt like a full house,” he observed. “To be involved again on Sunday and hopefully go out on a win would be good!”