West Ham United are back up to fifth place in the Premier League table after ending February with a crucial 1-0 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday afternoon.
David Moyes made two changes to the side that drew the last home game against Newcastle United eight days earlier, as Ben Johnson was restored to the starting line-up in place of the injured Ryan Fredericks, while Manuel Lanzini was preferred to Saïd Benrahma, who dropped to the bench.
The Scotsman also included youngsters Ajibola Alese, Armstrong Oko-Flex and Sonny Perkins were also included in the matchday squad.
Bruno Lage’s side had been in action just three days ahead of this game and it showed as the home fans saw their side orchestrate matters from the kick-off.
It would be fair to say that the Irons haven’t been playing well lately but have still been picking up results. Lanzini created an opportunity to work visiting goalkeeper José Sá. Kurt Zouma could have perhaps done better when meeting Tomáš Souček’s header but instead, he volleyed wide before Lanzini tried his luck again but he could only send his effort into the side netting.
Aaron Cresswell went close with a free-kick but it was only inches wide before Michail Antonio went even closer and brought another save out of Sá. However, the Portuguese stopper was beaten when Captain Declan Rice found a way through but he was unfortunate, as the long-range attempt came back off the post.
Having dominated the first-half and despite going close on a number of occasions, all that the Hammers were missing was a goal. They were hoping for better luck in the second forty five minutes.
Although it took time for both teams to get their rhythm going once referee Anthony Taylor had restarted the action, there was a chance at either end, as Rice and then Francisco Trincão went close but neither effort found the target.
Just before the hour however, the home side’s pressure eventually paid off when Cresswell took responsibility after a throw-in was awarded. Great link-up play between Pablo Fornals and Antonio followed. Antonio got into a great position and played in Souček who, on his 27th birthday, gave himself the perfect present as he turned and knocked the ball into the net past the Portuguese, giving him no chance.
Wolves went in search of a quick response but fortunately for the home faithful, they were given little room to make anything happen, as Zouma blocked twice from Fábio Silva.
West Ham were trying everything they could to increase their advantage but only the brilliance of Sá was preventing them. Jarrod Bowen was denied before Fornals inadvertently sent an effort high and wide.
Antonio hasn’t scored since the 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day and he had a golden chance to get back on the goalscoring trail when he only had Sá to beat but instead of shooting he opted to pass and the opportunity was gone.
Wolves kept probing in the hope of an equaliser and it nearly arrived through Rúben Neves but fortunately, Łukasz Fabiański kept an eye on his powerful shot and was able to hold on.
In the closing stages of the match, Moyes made a double change, as he introduced both Issa Diop and Nikola Vlašić in place of Fornals and Antonio.
After three minutes of stoppage time were played, Taylor brought an end to proceedings and West Ham had started a big week of action in the best way possible. They will hope to book their place in the quarter-final of the FA Cup on Wednesday night when they travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton.