Before their match in Stratford on Sunday afternoon, West Ham United and Newcastle United were separated by just one place in the Premier League table and that remained the case after the encounter as it ended 2-2.
Michail Antonio was doubtful prior to the contest but was able to make the starting line-up, meaning David Moyes went with an unchanged side from the one he named against newly-promoted Sheffield United eight days earlier. Joseph Anang was swiftly drafted in to take Łukasz Fabiański’s place on the bench, as the Pole was injured during the warm-up, while Divin Mubama continued his involvement in the matchday squad.
Given that Newcastle played in Europe ahead of West Ham, you wouldn’t have known it in the opening stages of this match, as the home side were passing the ball well and looking like they were keen to make an early breakthrough. Just as on Thursday, they went in front after eight minutes. Only this time it was Tomáš Souček who found the net, giving visiting goalkeeper Nick Pope no chance after he was well set up by Emmerson Palmieri.
Bruno Guimarães was booked for fouling Palmieri shortly after and perhaps should have seen red just two minutes later for bringing down James Ward Prowse. Referee Peter Bankes gave nothing for the incident involving the former Southampton Captain.
I mentioned in my preview to this game that the energy levels of the visitors might be lacking somewhat and it proved to be the case throughout the first-half. In truth, the Hammers should have perhaps had more than just the one goal to show for their efforts.
Eddie Howe’s men did have chances to equalise but they just couldn’t make the most of them and at half-time, it was the home fans who were cheering.
The hosts continued to pile on the pressure when the action was back underway, as Edson Álvarez tried his luck with a diving header after meeting a corner from Ward-Prowse but unfortunately, he didn’t beat Pope.
Up the other end, Alphonse Areola was forced into action and made another one of his noteworthy saves. Dan Burn looked as if he would equalise but the Frenchman reacted brilliantly to deny him.
The Toon Army are often well backed wherever they play and this weekend in East London was no different. They continued to get behind their team in search of an equaliser and eventually, it came!!!
West Ham were preparing to launch another counter-attack when Bankes had judged Lucas Paquetá to have fouled Sandro Tonali which resulted in him awarding the visitors a free-kick to the bemusement of the majority inside the stadium. Of course, Newcastle have their own set-piece specialist in Kieran Trippier and he sent the ball over for Alexander Isak to beat Areola.
Within five minutes, Howe had seen his side turn the game on its head. The same pair combined again and it was the same result, leaving the Irons having to look for a way back into the game.
Matters could have completely gone in favour of the Magpies and Isak was in for his hat-trick. He got past Areola but somehow managed to hit the base of the post.
On seventy five minutes, Moyes made a change, as Antonio was withdrawn in favour of Saïd Benrahma. Seconds later and Mohammed Kudus also entered the fray in place of Souček.
After all the hard work that they had put into this game, the East Londoners would have felt pretty aggrieved if they hadn’t got something from it but, thankfully they did!!!
Ward-Prowse had gone close with a free-kick but it went over the bar. Then, Kudus claimed his first Premier League goal for the club as he sent a shot arrowing past Pope and three sides of the ground went ballistic!!!
Having got back on level terms so late, they were delighted to hear that six minutes of stoppage time would then be added before the end of the game.
Enough time to get a winner one would think. Well, they almost got it!!! Jarrod Bowen burst into the box from the right-hand flank but Pope made a terrific one-handed save to thwart him. Benrahma tried to follow up but disappointingly he wasn’t able to force the ball home despite being so close.
Having not been on the road in the top-flight since 24 September, the Hammers make the trip to Villa Park to face Aston Villa after the international break in a game that takes place on October 22.
There was more good news for Irons’ fans hours after the game, as it was confirmed that Bowen had signed a new long-term contract which will keep him at the club until the summer of 2030.