West Ham United are now without a victory since the 4-0 triumph against Norwich City at Carrow Road on May 8 following a 1-0 defeat to newly-promoted Nottingham Forest at The City Ground on Sunday afternoon.
Łukasz Fabiański and Michail Antonio were both passed fit to be involved again, meaning David Moyes only made one change to the team that lost to Manchester City seven days earlier, as Saïd Benrahma was preferred to Manuel Lanzini with the Argentine dropping to the bench. Maxwel Cornet also took his place amongst the nine substitutes.
I referred to the fact that it was going to be a highly charged atmosphere in my preview to this game, given that it was Forests’ first Premier League home match for twenty three years and you can just imagine the noise levels from the majority inside the stadium and the home players definitely responded in the opening stages as they looked to atone for their defeat at Newcastle United eight days earlier.
Thankfully for those in the away end though, the Hammers coped well with the early pressure and then began to take control.
Antonio, who was making his first return to Nottingham since leaving to join West Ham in January 2016, was on hand to win a free-kick. Aaron Cresswell took responsibility for the set-piece but his effort went inches over the bar.
Although Steve Cooper’s side went close on a number of occasions, Fabianski appeared to have them all covered and the scores remained level.
Benrahma forced goalkeeper Dean Henderson into a good save and Harry Toffolo cleared for a corner before Tomáš Souček could follow up. Soon after Benrahma laid the ball back to Cresswell, whose measured cross found Souček clear but unfortunately he headed straight at the home stopper.
Fabianski was called into action again to save from Neco Williams and then, the Pole set his team on their way and they went up the other end and thought they had gone in front, as Benrahma finally beat Henderson. However, the cheers from the travelling support turned out to be short lived as VAR had alerted referee Robert Jones to an apparent foul by Antonio in the build-up. With that, Jones went to check his pitchside monitor and after an extended look, he decided to overturn his original decision.
The Irons quite rightly felt aggrieved by that decision and were even more disappointed when the hosts went ahead shortly after. Ben Johnson tried to clear Jesse Lingard’s shot but instead, he could only find Taiwo Awoniyi in close attendance and the ball then creeped past a helpless Fabianski and into the back of the net.
It was harsh on the visitors but they almost fashioned the perfect response just seconds after the restart. Unfortunately though, a venomous effort from Pablo Fornals came straight back off the crossbar. Souček was again in the right place to pick up the pieces but Henderson thwarted him again.
It was then Forests’ turn to feel the frustrations of VAR. They thought that they had gone 2-0 up through Brennan Johnson but this was ruled out for offside.
Try as they might, it just wasn’t going to be a good day for the East Londoners, who hit the bar again when Benrahma thought he’d equalised.
The Hammers’ luck might have turned when they were given a penalty, as Souček’s shot was clearly handled by Scott McKenna after VAR was once again consulted. The large travelling contingent thought that McKenna should have seen red but he was only given a yellow card.
Lanzini was a regular scorer from the spot last season but as he was not yet on the pitch, it was left to new Club Captain Declan Rice to beat Henderson. He stepped up but unfortunately the goalkeeper guessed right and made the save.
Moyes then made a double change, as he introduced Lanzini and Gianluca Scamacca in place of both Fornals and Antonio.
Kurt Zouma was extremely close to grabbing a point for his team after they were awarded a corner but unfortunately, Williams made a miraculous goal-line clearance.
Moyes made a final change to try and add more attacking impetus when Carnet entered the fray for Jarrod Bowen but the move didn’t pay off and after seven minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle was blown.
West Ham will now have to look ahead to Thursday’s UEFA Europa Conference League third round play-off qualifying match against Danish side Viborg FF in Stratford.
Hours after the game, it was announced that young goalkeeper Joseph Angang had joined Sky Bet League One side Derby County on a season-long loan deal.