The wait for a Premier League win against Brighton and Hove Albion goes on for West Ham United, as they suffered a 3-1 defeat at The American Express Community Stadium to end the 2021/22 season on Sunday afternoon. The result also means that the Hammers will have to settle for playing in the Europa Conference League next season.
David Moyes named an unchanged team from the side that drew 2-2 with Manchester City last weekend, meaning Armstrong Oko-Flex was again on the bench.
All the East Londoners needed to do was pick up three points and hope that Crystal Palace did them a favour at Selhurst Park against Manchester United in order to secure a second season of UEFA Europa League football for the 2022/23 campaign.
The visitors had not tasted victory against the Seagulls since a 6-0 success at Upton Park back in 2012 so a win was long overdue here.
Both teams were in the mood not to give much away in the opening stages and making it especially hard for either team to break the other down. West Ham could have gone ahead but were unable to make the most of any of the chances that came their way.
Graham Potter’s side went close through Moisés Caicedo, Pascal Groß and Marc Cucurella but all failed to put the home side in front, while up the other end, Aaron Cresswell tried his luck but his powerful effort was blocked.
The large travelling contingent who has made the journey to Sussex must have heard news from Selhurst Park that Manchester United were behind as there was an almighty cheer before loud singing erupted in the away end. Then, it got even better for the ever-loyal fan base, as the Irons got a goal themselves and it was a great effort from Michail Antonio. He collected possession from Vladimír Coufal’s throw-in and after losing the ball, managed to win it back and evade the attentions of Seagulls’ skipper Lewis Dunk before firing a shot into the top corner of the net past home goalkeeper Robert Sánchez.
Referee Kevin Friend blew the whistle for the break and the East Londoners were doing their bit and just hoping that they weren’t in for a Brighton backlash in the second-half.
Whatever Potter said to his side in the dressing room must have had an effect as they took control right from the restart and on fifty minutes Joël Veltman tried his luck and to be fair it wasn’t one that visiting stopper Łukasz Fabiański will want to remember in a hurry as the effort somehow went through his legs and the scores were level.
The hosts had found their rhythm by this point and could have gone further ahead but neither Danny Welbeck, nor Adam Webster could find the target.
Desperate to try and get their advantage back and secure a second sixth-place finish, the Hammers went close through both Cresswell and Captain Declan Rice. Cresswell seeing his latest attempt blocked, while Sánchez saw Rice’s shot all the way.
On seventy seven minutes, came the goal that West Ham were fearing, as the seagulls had turned the game on its head when Groß unleashed an unstoppable effort, giving Fabiański no chance.
Moyes brought on all of his substitutions in the eighty first minute, as Mark Noble and Andriy Yarmolenko came on to make their last appearances for the club, as they replaced both Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini, while Ben Johnson also entered the fray for Coufal.
Welbeck may have missed an opportunity earlier in the game but he certainly made up for it in the second of the three minutes that were added at the end of the ninety. He made no mistake this time as he beat Fabiański to end what had been an amazing season for West Ham on a disappointing note.
Moyes knows he will have to strengthen his squad if he is going to improve on the last two campaigns and if any moves are made both in and out of Stratford, news of them as well as the fixtures for the 2022/23 campaign will be published on this site as soon as they are announced.