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West Ham ‘season ticket holder’ shows his ability on the pitch

10:14 27 March 2014

West Ham United v Hull

West Ham United v Hull

Isabel Infantes

Hammers loan defender Roger Johnson redeems himself for that Yaya nightmare moment with battling display

Loan defender Roger Johnson described himself as a ‘West Ham season ticket holder’ on Soccer AM’s crossbar challenge, his arrival as an early replacement for the injured James Collins was met with groans from the crowd, but the centre half played his part as the Hammers held on for three vital wins.

Fate often plays a part in a footballer’s career and if Winston Reid had not been taken ill then he probably wouldn’t even have been on the bench.

But after just nine minutes of the match, Johnson found himself in the thick of the action.

“I wasn’t sure what was going on, but ‘Ginge’ signalled to the bench that he had to come off,” said the 30-year-old Wolves asset. “I wasn’t pleased in one way because we lost a player who has been superb of late, but it’s a cutthroat business.

“It has given me the opportunity and we won the game, so I am happy.”

Considering he hasn’t pulled on a claret and blue shirt since mid-January, Johnson looked composed and kept it simple on the pitch.

“It’s been a while since my last game, it was Newcastle, which seems like an age away. It is always good to be involved and it is tough when you are not. I have been left out of the match day team and bench which is hard to take.

“But I have been given the chance to come here and I am still pleased that I did. It is a great club and the boys have accepted me well and I love it.

“I would certainly love to stay and performances like that will hopefully stick in the manager’s memory and we will see what happens”

So far in his West Ham career, Johnson is remembered for his extraordinary backing off as Yaya Toure stormed forward in the Capital One Cup semi-final at the Etihad.

On Wednesday there was no repeat as he made a superb tackle on David Meyer to halt another Tigers advance.

“Sometimes you just have to defend it and I thought we did that and it is pleasing to get that last-ditch tackle in,” he said.

“It reminded me of the Manchester City game when Yaya Toure was running at me, so it was nice to redeem myself and make a tackle.”

It was certainly not easy, even against 10 men, but Johnson admitted that it can be a tough assignment to play against a team a man short.

“I sometimes think it is because you are expected to press them and keep the ball, everyone gets in their head, especially after going 1-0 up, that is going to be an easy night,” explained Johnson.

“We do it in training, 10 v 8, 10v 9, 11 v 8, more often than not the eight do well, so it is not as easy as everyone thinks. They were 1-0 down and had to push, but I thought we defended well in two banks of four and we were tough to get played through.”

Victory takes West Ham ever closer to safety and Johnson believes that one more win should be enough going into Monday’s game at the Stadium of Light.

“Sunderland is another big game,” he said. “The boys have been saying to each other that these two games will push us over the line.

“I personally think 37 points will be enough. It has been a funny old season, but I certainly can’t see any of the bottom three getting to anywhere near 37 to be honest.”

He is probably right and on Wednesday night, he certainly proved a lot of the fans wrong.

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