Cherries Put Hammers Back on Track

West Ham United are now unbeaten in five games in all competitions at home for the first time since 1999 after a 2-0 win over newly-promoted AFC Bournemouth on Monday night.

David Moyes made one change from the team that began the last game away at Liverpool, as Saïd Benrahma replaced Pablo Fornals, who dropped to the bench, while Flynn Downes retained his place and made his full home debut since signing from Swansea City in the summer.

Darren Randolph was alongside Alphonse Areola amongst the nine substitutes as was Connor Coventry.

Both teams had the same amount of time to prepare for this game and although the Hammers were not up to their usual standards, they were at least making chances.

Benrahma scored against RSC Anderlecht in one of the last home games and he tried his luck again here but could only send his effort into the side netting and didn’t even trouble visiting goalkeeper Neto.

Tomáš Souček then had a good chance but headed Aaron Cresswell’s cross over the top, while Downes was then presented with a chance to claim his first goal for his boyhood club after he was set up by some excellent combination play from both Jarrod Bowen and Ben Johnson. Unfortunately for the midfielder though, his effort was blocked.

The Irons were still having a go. Following that block, the ball fell to Cresswell but the Cherries’ summer signing got a hand on the effort and managed to tip it away. The pressure wasn’t over however, as Souček got in on the act but Neto did well to thwart the Czech international from close range.

Just as it looked like the scores would be level at the break, the deadlock was broken, Moyes’ men were awarded a corner and then an almighty goalmouth scramble ensued. Kurt Zouma got the final touch and headed past Neto. Although there was a VAR check for handball by Thilo Kehrer, the goal stood, giving some light relief to the home fans in what had been a largely unimpressive first-half.

Referee David Coote blew the whistle for the break and the majority inside the stadium were hoping for an improvement when play got back underway.

Cherries’ interim Head-Coach Gary O’Neil had to withdraw Neto at half-time and bring on Mark Travers and he proved to be the much busier goalkeeper in the second-half, as the Irons continued to apply the pressure.

Benrahma was keen to make the most of a rare start here and he almost set up Souček but the midfielder failed to find the net on this occasion. Seconds later, the Czech tried his luck from range was but neither of his chances were close beating the substitute stopper.

West Ham thought that one goal was not going to be enough and continued to search for another, they had an attempt when Benrahma set up Bowen but his volleyed effort was easily gathered by Travers.

The Hammers were keen to add more goals to get back to winning ways and another opportunity came their way, as Bowen and Gianluca Scamacca combined but when the former Hull City winger took the shot on, it was unfortunately blocked.

Scamacca was then replaced, as Moyes made his first change on seventy four minutes and Michail Antonio was brought on.

Minutes later, club Captain Declan Rice went for the spectacular, his effort was on target but Travers was able to beat it away.

O’Neill’s men were trying to find a way to goal but the home side kept denying them a way through.

West Ham made a double change with two minutes of normal time to play, as the Scotsman introduced both Fornals and Vladimír Coufal in place of Downes and Bowen.

As the match drew to a close, the hosts were awarded a penalty after Jordan Zemura was penalised for handball.

I bet Bowen was eager to make up for his missed attempt at Anfield just five days earlier but with him having left the pitch, it was left to Benrahma to clinch the points. The former Brentford winger confidently stepped up and smashed the ball into the net, giving Travers no chance.

Soon after, Coote blew the final whistle and the East Londoners are now into the top half of the Premier League table.

They now face a quick turnaround, as they are back in Stratford on Thursday night to face Silkeborg IF in a UEFA Europa Conference League Group B clash.