West Ham United 3-1 Southampton
JARROD BOWEN opened his account, helping hardworking West Ham United to see off Southampton and lift themselves out of the Premier League relegation zone
Make no mistake, West Ham find themselves in a serious position right now. Relegation is a real possibility and the fact wasn’t lost on boss, David Moyes.
“Every game is the biggest game of the season in football. You’re always required to win and it’s a really big game. We’ve got eleven to go so they’re all going to be very big.
“I think in recent games we’ve shown really good qualities. The players have done a good job in recent matches in different ways. We’ll need to show better quality when we’ve got the ball and we’ll have to show better quality when we get opportunities but, overall, I think they’re attitude has been spot-on and we’re in good spirits.
“We’re confident and we go into the game feeling we have a good chance of winning and we’ll try and do that.”
Hammers supporters protest against the clubs owners preceded the game – Moyes pleaded for unity: “My message to them and I keep saying is: ‘The best chance for this team to win and be successful is for everybody to be together, positive in the stadium, support the team because we need it.
“We need decisions to go for us as well, so we need them to be strong, so my message is: ‘Be positive and stick with the team because the team needs you.”
But there was certainly an uneasy, tense atmosphere hanging around the Hammers home, but that was swiftly to change. Moyes handed Bowen his full-debut – the former Hull City man latched onto Pablo Fornals’ reverse pass and neatly dispatched an angled effort beyond Alex McCarthy in the Saints goal – the home crowd exploded with delight – the pressure briefly lifted.
Sebastien Haller nodded directly at McCarthy as the fired-up east Londoners looked to double their advantage. Meanwhile, Bowen tried to fashion another opening as the home side continued to dominate.
But in typical West Ham fashion, the lead was soon extinguished. James Ward-Prowse picked out Michael Obafemi – the Dubliner clipping over Fabianski and into the net – the tension rose significantly.
West Ham needed a break and five minutes before the break, they got it. McCarthy spilt Michail Antonio’s hanging centre – Haller on hand to score from the tightest of angles.
And ten minutes after the break the home side extended their lead. Antonio supplying a ruthless finish – Fornals again the provider – the crowd, ecstatic!
McCarthy denied Antonio his second – sticking out a leg to divert behind after Haller’s outrageous ‘rabona’ ball had picked him out. Meanwhile, Bowen fired over after cutting in from the right – his contribution proving huge to the Hammers desperate cause.
Perhaps understandably, there was still an air of anxiety. Saints substitute, Danny Ings, saw his right-footed effort clipped behind, but that aside, there was little cause for concern.
This was West Ham’s first league victory since New Year’s Day – ending a seven-match winless sequence and lifting them two points and two places above the dropzone.
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Saturday, March 7 when they face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium (3pm).
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell, Mark Noble (Capt), Jarrod Bowen (Robert Snodgrass 78’), Pablo Fornals (Felipe Anderson 90+1’), Angelo Ogbonna, Sebastien Haller, Issa Diop, Michail Antonio, Declan Rice, Jeremy Ngakia Subs not used: Darren Randolph (GK), Fabian Balbuena, Pablo Zabaleta, Manuel Lanzini, Arthur Masuaku
Booked: Aaron Cresswell (foul)
Goals: Jarrod Bowen 15’ Sebastien Haller 40’, Michail Antonio 55’
Southampton: Alex McCarthy, Jack Stevens, Shane Long, James Ward-Prowse, Stuart Armstrong, Sofiane Boufal (Danny Ings 54’), Michael Obafemi (Jannik Vestergaard 68’), Ryan Bertrand, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Capt), Will Smallbone (Oriol Romeu 78’) Jan Bednarek Subs not used: Angus Gunn (GK), Che Adams, Kyle Walker-Peters, Yan Valery
Booked: Jack Stevens (foul)
Goals: Michael Obafemi 31’
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick and Adan Nunn
Fourth Official: Robert Jones
Reaction to follow…