Too little too late for hapless Hammers

West Ham United 2-3 Newcastle United

A LATE FIGHTBACK came far too late to save out of sorts West Ham United from suffering heir fifth Premier League defeat of the season as struggling Newcastle United recorded a 3-2 success at the London Stadium which was far more conclusive as the scoreline would suggest.

Hammers’ boss, Manuel Pellegrini, had never lost to Newcastle during his stint with both the east Londoners and previously with Manchester City. Nevertheless, the Chilean played down that statistic, particularly with his current charges for from firing on full cylinders: “Yes but I don’t think that statistics are that important when you want to win a game,” he explained.

“We need to play a good game, improve on what we did in the last two games at home. I don’ think we played bad against Crystal Palace, we had chances to win the game.

“Against Sheffield, but we didn’t take them. We need to pay more attention to keep the clean sheet and then decide the game because both times, we had chances to do that.”

Pellegrini named an unchanged line-up to the one which had played out a frustrating 1-1 draw with Sheffield United seven days previous, while the visitors included former Hammers frontman, Andy Carroll, on the bench.

With both sides struggling for both consistency and goals, it was no great surprise that the opening exchanges were somewhat scruffy. Fabian Balbuena was unable to direct goalwards after getting his head to a Robert Snodgrass flag-kick, then a similar scenario provided by the popular Scotsman saw Sebastien Haller prod the wrong side of an upright. And having passed up those opportunities, West Ham fell behind. Ciaran Clarke headed high beyond Roberto, this after a perfectly delivered Jonjo Shelvey free-kick had been nodded back across goal by Joelinton.

And the mood swiftly darkened further amongst the home crowd. Federico Fernandez reacted quickly while Roberto dithered in no man’s land – heading into an empty net – this time Jetro Willems the provider. The Geordie contingent, enthused by the ease in which their side had cut the hosts open.

West Ham simply weren’t at the races. The beleaguered Roberto redeemed himself a little, saving from Allan Saint-Maximin with his feet, then producing a double save to thwart both Joelinton and DeAndre Yedlin as the Magpies threatened to run riot.

Roberto was left relieved when Shelvey’s thumping strike cannoned back off the bar. Indeed, had this been a boxing match, the referee would probably have stopped the contest at this stage, such was the visitors’ relentlessness to kill the game – West Ham already looked battered, bruised and without ideas.

Haller attempted to rectify the situation – Martin Dubravka clinging to his acrobatic effort Soon after, the Magpies stopper turned aside Balbuena’s goalbound. However, West Ham had been as poor as Newcastle were good during the opening 45 minutes – Roberto denying Saint-Maximin in the last action before the break.

Pellegrini threw on Manuel Lanzini and Albian Ajeti in place of Andriy Yarmolenko and skipper Mark Noble immediately after the interval. However, no Hammers player could have complained too much had the Chilean chosen to hook them for their first half toil. But the move brought about little change. Shelvey’s dead-ball strike beat Roberto from fully 25-yards six minutes after the restart. Many Hammers fans decided at that point that they had already seen enough.

Balbuena bundled home to give West Ham a lifeline – Dubravka unable to properly deal with Haller’s initial header from a Snodgrass flag-kick.

Snodgrass then provided a second goal for the home side – sending a crisp volley low past Dubravka after Felipe Anderson had fashioned the opening.
But despite five minutes of stoppage-time visions of a grandstand finish never really materialised. Considering the pre-season hype surrounding West Ham challenging for a European berth – the evidence is currently conclusive of a team sleepwalking into a relegation battle, which it would appear these players don’t have the stomach for!

West Ham United returns to Premier League action on Saturday, November 9 when they face Burnley at Turf Moor (3pm).

West Ham United: Roberto, Aaron Cresswell, Fabian Balbuena, Pablo Zabaleta (Ryan Fredericks 73’), Andriy Yarmolenko (Manuel Lanzini 46’), Felipe Anderson, Robert Snodgrass, Mark Noble (Capt) (Albian Ajeti 46’), Sebastien Haller, Issa Diop, Declan Rice Subs not used: David Martin (GK), Carlos Sanchez, Pablo Fornals, Angelo Ogbonna

Booked: Issa Diop (foul), Aaron Cresswell (foul)
Goals: Fabian Balbuena 74’, Robert Snodgrass 90′

Newcastle United: Martin Dubravka, Ciaran Clarke, Jamaal Lascelles (Capt), Jonjo Shelvey, Joelinton (Andy Carroll 89’), Allan Saint-Maximin (Christian Atsu 77”, Issac Hayden, Jetro Willems (Paul Dummett 87’), Federico Fernandez, DeAndre Yedlin, Miguel Almiron Subs not used: Karl Darlow (GK), Dwight Gayle, Emil Krafth, Matthew Longstaff

Booked: Federico Fernandez (foul)
Goals: Ciaran Clarke 17’, Federico Fernandez 22’, Jonjo Shelvey 51’

Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistants: Neil Davies and Richard West
Fourth Official: Alan Young

Attendance: 59,907

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]