Hammers Experience St James’ Joy
David Moyes finally claimed his first win over Newcastle United as West Ham United manager on Sunday afternoon. The Hammers fought back twice to win their opening game of the season for the first time since 2015 with a 4-2 triumph at St James’ Park.
Many of the travelling support might have expected new signing Alphonse Areola to start in goal ahead of Łukasz Fabiański but the Irons’ boss decided to stick with the Pole, meaning the Paris Saint-Germain loanee started on the bench.
Despite missing the last two pre-season games with a hamstring injury, Angelo Ogbonna was back in the defence alongside Craig Dawson, meaning Issa Diop was amongst the substitutes. Manuel Lanzini was also available to the manager despite having doubts over a groin injury, while youngsters Jamal Baptiste and Connor Coventry were included in the matchday eighteen.
West Ham had momentum behind them given that they had won their final match of the 2020/21 campaign 3-0 at home to Southampton and they nearly went ahead in the early stages here with just two minutes gone. Dawson received possession from Aaron Cresswell’s corner and in turn set up Tomáš Souček, whose attempt was cleared off the line by Miguel Almirón.
Both teams started with attacking intent but there was disappointment to come from a West Ham perspective as the Magpies went ahead after five minutes. Allan Saint-Maximin produced a great cross which evaded Declan Rice and was met by Callum Wilson who scored his customary goal against West Ham, as he headed past Fabiański.
In the corresponding fixture last season, despite falling to a 3-2 defeat, Moyes did see his side level that match at one stage and they restored parity this time around as Cresswell equalised on seventeen minutes with both Souček and Pablo Fornals heavily involved. An offside flag was raised against Jarrod Bowen but a VAR check went in favour of the East Londoners and the goal stood.
After going a goal down early on, the visitors could have turned the game on its head soon after, when Bowen was through on goal but unfortunately he couldn’t beat home stopper Freddie Woodman.
The game was swinging this way and that, with Steve Bruce’s side then having efforts to try and go back ahead but fortunately, Fabiański made an instinctive save from Wilson, before Almirón tried his luck but thankfully, the East Londoners survived, as his shot hit the bar.
The way this game was going, you would have thought that one side would be ahead before the break. Well, this honour went the way of the Magpies as Jacob Murphy scored his first home goal for the club when Matt Ritchie was given time and space to deliver a perfect cross for the former Norwich City man to give Fabiański no chance with another header.
At half-time, the home crowd were looking to see their team notch up a third successive win over the Hammers but Moyes’ men had other ideas in the away dressing room.
Just as they had done at the start of the game, West Ham were on the home side’s case right from the first whistle of the second-half and their pressure once again paid off just eight minutes after the action recommenced.
Michail Antonio is always a threat and he proved to be so again when his perfect cross presented Saïd Benrahma with the easiest of headers and he made no mistake when he beat Woodman to level the scores.
From then on, Moyes saw his side take complete control and they edged ahead. Fornals had played a great ball into Vladimír Coufal’s path and his cross was met by Antonio and although he hit the upright, referee Martin Atkinson awarded the visitors a penalty for Murphy’s foul on Fornals as he tried to convert the rebound.
Antonio took responsibility for the kick but unfortunately, Woodman was equal to the effort. However, Souček followed up and knocked the ball into the net.
The hosts couldn’t cope with West Ham’s relentless pressure and they were dealt another blow when the visitors scored again on sixty six minutes as Antonio finally got himself on the scoresheet after he was played in by Benrahma.
The Algerian was the first to be replaced by Moyes on eighty eight minutes with Ryan Fredericks entering the fray. Andriy Yarmolenko and Ben Johnson were then introduced soon after as they took the places of both Antonio and Bowen before Atkinson blew the final whistle on a great day’s work from the Irons.
Moyes will hope his team can follow this performance up when the Hammers play their first home game of the season against Leicester City next Monday night.