Players and the club showed their support for their Ukrainian team mate Andriy Yarmolenko, whose family and community have been so deeply affected by the ongoing devastating military attacks and Russian invasion of their homeland. The team wore blue tops during the pre match warm up and club captain, Declan Rice, held up a West Ham shirt with Yarmolenko’s name and number on it as players lined up before the start of the match.
The Hammers have become adept at scoring from set pieces, so it was when Emil Krafth fouled Michail Antonio, Cresswell was set up in a dangerous position to deliver an excellent free kick for Dawson to dive a head of the Newcastle defence putting the home side in front. The atmosphere lit up and the crowd were in good form. Having rescued a draw for the Hammers last week, could Dawson’s goal push West Ham take control of the game?
But could the Hammers at least rescue a draw? With growing purpose the Hammers began to push further forward with Vlasic and Fornals making way for Masuaku and Yarmolenko to see out the final 20mins of what was becoming a more frantic encounter. So, it was a final chance falling to in form Bowen who could only chest over a cross that should have been headed firmly into the Leeds net to salvage something from a match that had 2 goals ruled out for offside, one for each team, that raised Leeds to 15th place, whilst the Hammers hang precariously in 4th anxiously watching results of those teams around us.
Wins don’t come better that this and the end of match celebrations reverberated in and around Westfield until the small hours with fans singing ‘West Ham are massive wherever we go’ punctuated with cries of ‘Irons!’ ‘Irons’ and ‘Stick your blue flag …..’ Well, you know how that one goes eh?
On a night we needed a win, VAR denied us a second goal as the ball rolled over the line off Shane Duffy. Celebrations echoed around the ground only for the decision to go against us as Antonio was judged to have been offside before the ball had hit the defender on its way towards goal.
With chants of David Moyes Claret and Blue Army and West Ham Are Massive, Wherever We Go heard long after the match had ended and echoing around Westfield, we can finally put to bed the idea that we cannot compete with the top teams.
Do we need to get used to winning? For many years it seems we craved the idea of winning regularly and assumed we would, those bubbles flying so high only to fade and die on us time and again.
A game of drama and real frustration for us as I feel we deserved at least a point, even after the rush of blood to the head decision by Moyes to throw Noble on to take a last gasp penalty to salvage the game. It would have been so different if Noble had scored – imagine the headlines – but it was not to be.
It was an emotional return to the London Stadium as I have not seen my brother for quite some time and it was wonderful to see him. It was also great to see so many familiar faces – few faces I did not recognise from the final game before the lockdown last year. The hairs on the back of my neck raised as we heard the crowd singing and immersed ourselves in the bustle before the game. So glad to be back.
With the backdrop of one of the largest fan protests against owners Gold, Sullivan and Brady before the match, a superb performance on the pitch and a first goal for new recruit Jarrod Bowen secured a well deserved win to lift the Hammers out of the drop zone into 16th spot, albeit on goal difference.