West Ham United capped off a great run against the newly-promoted teams so far this season by beating West Bromwich Albion 2-1 in Stratford on Tuesday night.
David Moyes made one change to the side that conjured up a crucial home win against Burnley three days earlier as Manuel Lanzini was preferred to Pablo Fornals who dropped to the bench. Also amongst the substitutes was Fabián Balbuena after the defender completed his self-isolation period.
Former Irons manager Sam Allardyce was in the away dugout and would surely have named two ex-West Ham players in his matchday squad but Grady Diangana was unavailable through injury, while an agreement had been struck between the two clubs when Robert Snodgrass arrived at The Hawthorns, meaning that he couldn’t play against the team who he left just under a fortnight ago.
Although most of the play was coming from the hosts in the first-half, they were unable to find a killer touch in the opposition’s box. An early moment that would have worried them is when Angelo Ogbonna headed Jake Livermore’s cross in the direction of his own net, thankfully though, goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański came to the rescue.
The Hammers kept the pressure on and Baggies’ stopper Sam Johnstone had to make saves from both Lanzini and Saïd Benrahma, while Craig Dawson sent his header wide when completely unmarked.
Lanzini tried his luck again later but could only send a curling freekick over the top.
There was a lot of great play from Moyes’ side, the only thing that the Scot would have been disappointed with is that they were unable to find the back of the net.
Vladimír Coufal went close before he was involved in the goal that arrived just before the break. The Czech defender linked up well with Benrahma and his cross found Jarrod Bowen who controlled the ball on his chest and finished past Johnstone.
It would have been a far easier half-time team talk for Moyes who would have been pleased to finally see his team have something to show for their considerable effort throughout the first period.
West Ham’s advantage didn’t last too long as within six minutes of the second-half starting, Albion were back level. Matheus Pereira brilliantly scored past Fabianski to add to his two goals against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend.
Having lost their lead, the Irons were in no mood to let this game pass them by and quickly went about trying to get back in the ascendancy but just couldn’t find the breakthrough.
Lanzini’s effort was somehow blocked by the head of visiting defender Dara O’Shea, while Captain Declan Rice could only watch his effort from a freekick go narrowly wide.
On sixty two minutes, Moyes decided that it was time to introduce new faces so Lanzini and Benrahma were taken off and Fornals and Andriy Yarmolenko took their places.
The Ukrainian’s introduction had the desired impact as West Ham were back ahead just four minutes later when he headed Aaron Cresswell’s cross into the path of Antonio who produced a clever volley and gave Johnstone no chance.
With Antonio still not fully fit, Moyes made his third and final change on eighty three minutes as he came off to be replaced by Mark Noble.
Big Sam’s men were obviously keen to take something from the game and could have equalised on two occasions. On seventy eight minutes, Chelsea loanee Connor Gallagher fired straight at Fabianski, before an even better chance came their way with just seconds of the ninety remaining. Darnell Furlong looked odds-on to secure a point but he sent his shot just wide.
Deep into the four minutes of stoppage time that were added at the end of the game, the East Londoners were given a late scare. Albion thought they should have been awarded a penalty when Gallagher went down but referee Graham Scott, together with help from VAR gave nothing. Indeed, Scott went on to book the player for a dive.
Having taken maximum points from two games this week, attention now turns to finally finding a way past round four of the FA Cup with Sky Bet League One outfit Doncaster Rovers providing the opposition in Stratford on Saturday.