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.
The party atmosphere was in full swing before the game, despite some fans struggling to get to the match during the Boxing Day with the impact of COVID and travel chaos that left some stranded and missing a game filled with the range of emotions you would find in a Christmas holiday movie – although the ending was not filled with the usual Hollywood feeling good theme of joy to all and the spirit of giving was definitely absent in the result.
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.
I have some of my recent photos of West Ham United home games at the London Stadium featured in November edition of Blowing Bubbles fanzine. If you would like a copy of the magazine go to: https://blowing-bubbles.co.uk/subscribe/
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.
After last season this is our new normal – winning games we would have previously lost or struggled to hold on for a draw. The fight in the team is clear and stand out players for me were Johnson who is impressing in defence with pace and desire and confidence to go forward and Areola who I felt did an excellent job in goal and was quick off his line too.
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.