West Ham United suffered their first defeat in April against Newcastle United at St James’ Park in today’s early kick-off but unlike in recent games, where the East Londoners have held on to a 3-2 scoreline, this time they were on the wrong end of it. However, they were 2-0 behind at one stage.
With Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku both injured, David Moyes had to make two changes to the side that had beaten Leicester City last weekend. Angelo Ogbonna made his long-awaited return from an ankle injury sustained in the FA Cup fifth round tie against Manchester United in February, while Ben Johnson also came into the starting line-up.
Mark Noble had sufficiently recovered from the injury to his arm sustained against the Foxes last Sunday in order to retain his place. There were also two welcome additions on the bench, as both Andriy Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini were included in the matchday eighteen.
The Magpies came into this game off the back of some good form having picked up four points from their last two games and were creative in the early stages of this encounter. Craig Dawson was booked for halting a counter-attack but just seven minutes later, they really started piling on the pressure through Allan Saint-Maximin. Fortunately for the visitors though, the Frenchman had his well-struck effort saved by Łukasz Fabiański.
The Hammers’ faithful watching from afar would have seen that there wasn’t much to choose between the two sides in the opening half-hour but a mad few minutes definitely tipped the balance of the game in favour of the home side.
Saint-Maximin assumed the responsibility to help the hosts push on. He ran into the box and shot past Fabiański and although Issa Diop tried to clear the ball off the line, he ended up applying the final touch and West Ham found themselves a goal behind.
After suffering the disappointment of the goal, there was then more pain for the East Londoners, as Dawson was given a second yellow card for a challenge on Joelinton.
It soon became clear that it wasn’t going to be a good day for Moyes and his side, as Steve Bruce’s men increased their advantage. Fabianski, who is usually so reliable was under no pressure, following Jonjo Shelvey’s corner but somehow, he managed to drop the ball and Joelinton was in the right place to knock the ball past the Pole.
With Leicester City and Chelsea both involved in FA Cup semi-final action this weekend, the Hammers knew that should they get anything from this game, they had the chance to jump into third place. Well you’d have to say that looked a distant dream, as referee Kevin Friend blew the half-time whistle.
It was not known what Moyes said in the away dressing room but whatever it was, the Scotsman seemed to have got a reaction from his players when the action recommenced. Vladimír Coufal was kept at bay by goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka, before Diop headed in following Jarrod Bowen’s right wing cross.
With his side having got one goal back, Moyes decided to make a change soon after as Saïd Benrahma replaced Noble.
Having been uncharacteristically out of sorts for most of this game, the visitors were awarded a penalty after VAR had discovered that Ciaran Clark had handled the ball. Friend was advised to go over and review the replay on the pitchside monitor. On doing this, he then had no hesitation in awarding West Ham a penalty.
With Noble having just been substituted, it was left to Jesse Lingard to reduce the arrears. Although Dúbravka was beaten, Lingard saw his kick go into the net off the post.
No sooner had the East Londoners levelled the contest, Newcastle had edged ahead again as Arsenal loanee Joe Willock headed past Fabianski to seal the points.
The Irons have lost some key players in recent weeks and with three minutes of normal time to go, the Manchester United loanee went off with what looked like a hamstring injury so, Lanzini took his place.
Twice in recent weeks, Moyes has seen his side almost relinquish a three-goal advantage. Well, this time the away side were given real hope of getting a third goal themselves when eight minutes of stoppage time were added.
Deep into that allotted period, West Ham made their final change as Ryan Fredericks was brought on in place of Johnson. Despite both the change and the lengthy amount of time in which they had to grab a point, they couldn’t make it happen and the Magpies held on to claim an important three points.
Moyes’ men could have done with taking something from this game, as it is Chelsea’s turn to visit Stratford next Saturday.