The Hammers brush off Premier League form with a win in Europa Conference League.
Well, what a first home game for me and not for the faint hearted given the first half performance, but such a come back in the second half to secure 3 vital points in this season’s Europa Conference League campaign.
I hope this post finds everyone safe and well and a few personal updates. After the trauma of living in a hotel for 6 months, then in temporary accommodation and after a lot of battling with the housing association, we are finally moved into a permanent home. The relief is unbelievable and we can now deal with what happened to our family and start rebuilding our lives back to some normality. Thanks everyone for your support and kind words on here and privately, feeling the Hammers family love for sure.
The last few weeks have been full on for me personally and my family and last Thursdays Europa League win was the first home match I’ve managed to attend this season. Some normality has returned for me and it was wonderful to be back, hear the crowd and feel the atmosphere, although somewhat muted due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. No fireworks before the match, no music, no announcements, and a rendition of God Save The Queen by the home crowd. It was nice to see the photo of the Queen handing Sir Bobby Moore the World Cup at Wembley Stadium in 1966 during the half time break.
Our season ticket seats have moved due to work done on the stand to increase capacity, but glad to see not too far from where we were last season – still near the corner flag. Relief as I am not one to handle change very well. Managed to find a few familiar faces, those who sat around me since moving to the London Stadium, and good to meet new people. It was all set up for a Hammers victory.
Until the match started, as we were a bit off the pace and FCSB had some pace in the early exchanges of the match. Scamacca was still clearly not running on all cylinders after recovering from a virus and needed to be subbed after the first half. We dominated possession but looked exposed on their counter, and so it was no surprise to go 0-1 down on 34th minute from Andrei Cordea in space at the far post.
Cue celebrations from a handful of Rumanian fans just a few rows in front of me and what seemed like ages before the stewards came to move them. This was an issue in the first season we moved to London Stadium with away fans sitting in main areas of the stands. Fortunately nothing came of it, but this kind of thing can ignite strong feelings, especially given how we were playing at the time, and it could have kicked off. Videos have been shared on social media of away fans occupying seats in the home sections of the stand. It’s something that needs to be looked at for sure.
Half time whistle came with boos and the discussion was around the new players and when they will be given the chance to have a run in the team. Second half and Antonio sprints on, with Parqueta replacing the struggling Scamacca and Benrahma and we had pace and attacking play that felt like we could take this match, and we did.
An excellent Bowen penalty after Cornet was fouled, no VAR to chalk that one off, and a wonderful goal from Emerson to put us in control. The crowd sensed there were more goals in this game and it came from the excellent Antonio on 90th minute to send the crowd roaring and singing. Antonio entertains as much as he frustrates but his impact along with Bowen and later Parqueta was the difference.
Dawson was given much respect from the home fans as he warmed up on the touch line, and was given extra time to finish off the game replacing Ogbonna. News came through about the possibility of cancelled matches for the coming weekend but the sense of relief was felt throughout the crowd with a home win to give us hope of another amazing European campaign and exciting nights under the lights.
It took a while for the home crowd to get behind the team and Bowen’s penalty certainly settled the nerves, but I went home – to my new permanent home – feeling like finally our season may be off the mark. We may now have another week for recovery and Moyes will have pretty much a full squad to select from.
Enjoy the photos from the match and take care everyone.