Hammers back on track after Soucek’s late strike

Brian Jeeves

West Ham United v Nottingham Forest – Premier League – London Stadium – Report 

West Ham United 3-2 Nottingham Forest 

West Ham United put a stop to their recent winless Premier League sequence by edging out Nottingham Forest at the London Stadium in a contest that came to life during the second half.

Three defeats on the bounce had seen David Moyes’ men slip into the bottom half of the table. Meanwhile, Steve Cooper’s Forest arrived in East London with a single loss in five to their name. A run which included three draws and an impressive 2-0 victory over Aston Villa at the City Ground a week previous.

Moyes was mindful of the efforts of his opposite number: “Steve Cooper has done a brilliant job at Nottingham Forest,” the Scotsman explained.

“I don’t think I was surprised by it but, overall, they did great last year to keep them up and they look as if they’re building this year.

“They’ve bought a lot of players over the last two years and kept moving the team on, so I think they’ve done a good job.”

Nevertheless, it was the home side that made a lightning start. Nicolas Dominguez’s pass hit Ibrahim Sangare and fell kindly to Lucas Paqueta. The Hammers frontman lashed beyond Forest stopper Odysseas Vlachodimos from twenty yards.

West Ham United’s Lucas Paqueta scores his side’s first goal against Nottingham Forest at the London Stadium (Rob Newell CameraSport)

Alphonse Areola was forced into a superb one-handed save to deny Taiwo Awoniyi heading Forest level while Paqueta’s weak attempt was comfortably fielded by Vlachodimos after the home side had broken quickly and in numbers.

But after the early excitement, the game became somewhat bogged down in midfield with neither side displaying much in the way of creativity. Edson Alvarez fired wide. The negativity found its way into the stands. The crowd was unusually quiet. The atmosphere, flat. The contest badly needed a spark.

Forest provided it, levelling the score shortly before the break. Awoniyi was on hand to bundle home after Areola was unable to hold Morgan Gibbs-White’s initial effort.

Awoniyi passed up a glorious opportunity to hand Forest the lead immediately after the restart, while Emerson was a whisker away from the home side as they swiftly responded. With the tempo raised, the audience roused. Gibbs-White fired over, Ward-Prowse, agonisingly close. All of a sudden, we had something resembling a game of football on our hands.

Just after the hour, Forest forged ahead. Anthony Elanga’s sweet, right-footed shot beaty Areola low to his left. Ola Aina created the opening from the right.

But Forest’s lead lasted barely two minutes. Jarrod Bowen arrived unchallenged to head home a precise Ward-Powse flag-kick.

In the blink of an eye, Forest appeared to be hanging on. Tomas Soucek directed against the crossbar after latching on to a woeful back-header from Aina. Then the Czech was denied by a flying save from Vlachodimos after he’d met Ward-Prowse’ cross headlong.

But it was to be a case of third-time lucky for Soucek, who met yet another Ward-Prowse corner with a powerful header to restore West Ham’s earlier lead.

Areol fisted away from former Liverpool man, Divock Origi as Forest tried desperately to salvage the game. But West Ham had done enough to end their recent wretched league run. Just!

West Ham United returns to Premier League action after the international break, on Saturday, November 25, when they face Burnley at Turf Moor (3pm).

West Ham United: Areola, Coufal, Zouma (Capt), Aguerd, Emerson, Álvarez (Antonio 79′), Souček, Ward-Prowse, Kudus (Ogbonna 90+5′), Paquetá (Cresswell 90+9′), Bowen Subs not used: Fabiański (GK), Kehrer, Mavropanos, Fornals, Benrahma, Ings

Booked: Coufal (foul), Kudus (foul)

Goals: Lucas Paqutea 3′, Bowen 65′, Soucek 88′

Nottingham Forest: Vlachodimos, Aina (Aurier 76′), Niakhaté, Murillo (Boly 76′), Toffolo, Mangala, Sangaré (Origi 90′), Domínguez (Danilo 46′), Gibbs-White (Capt), Elanga, Awoniyi (Wood 76′) Subs not used: Turner (GK), Williams, Yates, Kouyaté

Booked: Niakhaté (foul), Elanga (over-celebrating)

Goals: Awoniyi 45′, Elanga 63′

Referee: Michael Salisbury

Assistant Referees: Richard West and Derek Eaton

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR: Peter Bankes

Assistant VAR: Nick Hopton 


Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk