Hammers Earn Bournemouth Point

West Ham United certainly wanted to make a better start to the new season than they did in 2022/23. To some extent they did just that. Although they weren’t able to get a win, they are at least up and running having secured a 1-1 draw at The Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

No new signings were named in the starting line-up by David Moyes but the Scotsman did hand starts to Michail Antonio and Pablo Fornals. There was a surprise in goal however, as Alphonse Areola started ahead of Łukasz Fabiański who dropped to the bench which also included young goalkeeper Joseph Anang.

Also amongst the substitutes were Connor Coventry and Divin Mubama.

Kurt Zouma was given the Captain’s armband for the encounter, as the club are yet to confirm who will take over the role from Declan Rice, who left East London to join Arsenal in the summer.

The Irons had to wait until 28 August to claim their first three points last season and having won the UEFA Europa Conference League Final against Italian outfit ACF Fiorentina in their last competitive match, they were hoping to build on that momentum.

The optimism was high amongst the home faithful with their team now being under the management of Andoni Iraola. However, the Hammers dominated the early stages with both Fornals and Jarrod Bowen going close but unfortunately, neither player hit the target.

The Cherries also had a spell of possession early on but when it came to having any real efforts on goal, both teams were cancelling each other out.

Dominic Solanke was able to deal with the threat posed by Nayef Aguerd and set up David Brooks, who tried his luck but fortunately for the travelling contingent, it went past Areola’s post.

The Irons had a great chance with only fifteen minutes gone. Fornals sent the ball into the area and Tomáš Souček met it on the stretch. The ball looked as if it was heading for the back of the net but instead, it thumped the post and reboundend into the arms of goalkeeper Neto.

In their 4-3 away defeat at Crystal Palace back on 29 April, West Ham scored all of their goals from corners and set-pieces were proving a threat again here, as Bowen sent one into the area but unfortunately, Antonio couldn’t make the most of Lucas Paquetá’s flick on this occasion.

Iraola’s side were beginning to find their rhythm and Brooks tested Areola but the away fans were thankful that the Frenchman made a great save.

When referee Peter Bankes blew the whistle for the break, the game was still goalless.

Brooks and Areola were in battle again just after the restart and the goalkeeper came out on top once more, as he kept the Welshman out.

The hosts were made to pay for that particular missed chance soon after, as a great team move involving Saïd Benrahma, Fornals and Bowen resulted in the former Hull City winger shooting from distance and, out of nowhere, the Irons went in front as his blockbuster flew past Neto.

The home side needed to find a response if they were to get anything from the game and they almost did so but thankfully, the Hammers’ stopper managed to thwart Solanke.

Moyes’ men were lucky to have survived a scare just minutes later when Joe Rothwell’s attempt hit the bar.

Soon after that chance, the Scotsman decided to make his first change, as Danny Ings replaced Antonio.

Antoine Semenyo was one of two substitutes introduced by Iraola in the seventy fifth minute, as the former Bristol City man replaced Brooks.

Little did he know, just seven minutes later, he would be playing a part in an equalising goal. His shot would have beaten Areola anyway but a deflection off Souček’s heel made doubly sure as it meant that the ball fell back into Solanke’s path and the former Liverpool man slotted home.

West Ham still could have won the game when Ings tried his luck, before Paquetá unfortunately hit the post.

Six minutes of stoppage time were signalled and with four minutes of the allotted time having passed, Moyes made a final change with Maxwel Cornet entering the fray for Paquetá. With that, Bankes blew the final whistle and in the end, the two sides couldn’t be separated.

Moyes should hopefully have two new faces at his disposal for the club’s first home game of the new campaign against Chelsea next Sunday afternoon.