In recent years, West Ham United have struggled when playing the play-off final winners on the road but there were no such problems on Friday night, as they beat newly-promoted Luton Town 2-1 at Kenilworth Road.
David Moyes made two changes from the side that claimed a first-ever Premier League win at The American Express Stadium.
Tomáš Souček suffered concussion during the game six days ago and wasn’t involved in the matchday squad here, so he was replaced by Saïd Benrahma, while Nayef Aguerd returned from suspension and took the place of Angelo Ogbonna, who dropped to the bench. New signing Mohammed Kudus was also included amongst the substitutes.
The game was scheduled for the same day that the summer transfer window closed and as you can imagine, anything could happen. Hours before kick-off, it was announced that youngster Archie Woods would be joining Vanarama National League South side Dartford on a loan deal.
Both Brentford and Nottingham Forest have been promoted to the top-flight in the last two seasons and the Hammers have travelled to both The Gtech Community Stadium and The City Ground and lost so they were obviously hoping for a change of fortune at Kenilworth Road.
It didn’t start well, as within the first two minutes, summer signings Ross Barkley and Tahith Chong created the first chance. Chong sent in a cross but thankfully for the Irons, Barkley sent his attempt wide. Barkley found himself on the ball again after fifteen minutes but he didn’t test Alphonse Areola.
The visitors then grew into the game and went close but unfortunately, Benrahma hit the side-netting, rather than beating home goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.
There was no doubt about it, the Hatters certainly had their fair share of presentable opportunities in the opening stages and this was again in evidence when they were awarded a corner but, Mads Andersen couldn’t make the most of it and instead headed wide.
It was a really open game up to this point and Jarrod Bowen then tried to put his side ahead but his attempt flashed past Kaminski’s post. Seconds later, Benrahma wanted to make amends for his earlier opportunity but couldn’t do so.
That didn’t deter him as it could have been third time lucky but when he picked up the pieces, following a block on Edson Álvarez’s shot, the Algerian could only send the ball over the top.
The East Londoners kept piling the pressure on and with thirty seven minutes gone, Bowen opened the scoring. Lucas Paquetá had been a constant threat and his cross set up the former Hull City winger to head past Kaminski.
The Hatters had only scored one goal in their two Premier League fixtures to date and they wanted to try and boost that record here. Neither Elijah Adebayo, nor stand-in Captain Carlton Morris could hit the target.
Referee Paul Tierney blew for half-time and while West Ham would have been pleased with their performance, they would have thought that they should have been further in front.
The visitors would have got a second goal just minutes after the restart but Emerson Palmieri’s effort was ruled out, as Michail Antonio had marginally strayed offside. After that let-off, Luton could have equalised but again, efforts from both Alfie Doughty and former Hammer Reece Burke failed to trouble Areola.
Kaminski was worked again by Benrahma but it was an easy save for the former Blackburn Rovers stopper.
Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and summer signing Jacob Brown were introduced by Hatters’ boss Rob Edwards with seventy one minutes gone, as they replaced both Adebayo and Issa Kaboré.
Seconds later, Moyes made a change of his own, as he took off Benrahma and threw on Pablo Fornals.
Eight minutes later, the Irons’ boss swapped his two attacking players, as Danny Ings took the place of Antonio.
The hosts had another great chance to level matters but the skipper sent his second effort of the game over the bar. Then, their hopes of getting a draw from the game faded, as West Ham stretched their advantage. Captain Kurt Zouma met a corner from James Ward-Prowse and powered a header home.
Shortly after, the hosts had extended their advantage, Moyes decided it was time to give Kudus his first taste of English top-flight football. He entered the fray for Paquetá.
The home side did get a consolation with three of the five added minutes gone but it was too little too late, as the Hammers took six points from their recent road trips.
They can enjoy time off before it is Manchester City at home on 16 September.