David Hautzig's Match Report
I’ve always wondered why Karen Brady (Brady Out!) has such an infatuation with Sean Dyche. During our most recent managerial searches today’s visiting gaffer was mentioned numerous times, along with the extra nugget that Lady Brady (Brady Out!) was a huge admirer. Who knew that vocal nodules could be such a lure? All kidding aside, Dyche should be lauded for the work he has done at Burnley. He may not play a free flowing brand of football, but his teams always put in the proverbial shift. Maybe with their new ownership in time we will see a different approach from that other team in Claret? I’d welcome that, because the current approach often leads to a very distasteful weekend for us. I was there for that momentous day in Stratford, and while it wasn’t January 6th in Washington it was notable in the history of our club. In our last six meetings with them, we have won once, drawn once, and lost four. To add to the angst, Moyes had never beaten a Dyche managed team in the EPL. In fact, only Mourinho and Guardiola have better records against Moyes than Dyche. But West Ham needed 28 games last season to reach 26 points, so the growth in our side is obvious. And continuing.
While the opening minutes didn’t offer up much of anything noteworthy, Burnley looked a little more lively than the Hammers. They moved the ball side to side, and had more space to play with. Dawson lost the ball near the top of the West Ham eighteen yard box in minute number seven, and Gudmunddsson jumped on it and tried a long range shot that Fabianski handled with relative ease.
So much has been made of Antonio’s value to our attack. Kind of like the need fish have for water. In the 10th minute, Bowen went on a good run into the box and rolled a pass to Fornals on the left. Say what you want about the young Spaniard and his uncanny ability to miss the target from a scoring position, but the lad can cross. He sent a ball over Mee and Tarkowski to Ant Man, who positioned himself in between the thirty million pound West Ham target and Pieters and calmly directed the ball into the net. Then he practiced his backstroke.
West Ham 1
Bowen created another half chance in the 18th minute when he won a corner off of Pieters after beating the defender inside the box. The set piece was quite good, and Ogbonna got to it but his header went wide.
Burnley had a good spell of possession midway through the first half, including a corner and a free kick from just outside the box after a foul on Brownhill by Cresswell. But the wall did it’s job, and Lowton’s rebound attempt went high over the bar for a goal kick. It looked like the goal had sent West Ham into early containment mode as opposed to pressing for a second. Burnley looked to have an equalizer in the 33rd minute after a Cresswell own goal, but Wood was flagged for offside. Still, the pitch looked to be tilted towards the West Ham goal.
The Hammers came so close to a second goal in the 36th minute when Bowen won West Ham a corner off of Pieters. The ensuing set piece whipped in to Rice, who flicked on to Ogbonna, but his header clanged off the post. Moments later Bowen had his pocket picked by Brady near the West Ham box. The Ireland international rolled a pass to Hammers killer Wood, but his long drive went wide. A few minutes later some errant passing by West Ham in the center of the pitch eventually saw the ball at the feet of Gudmundsson who again tried a long range shot, and again Fabianski made the save.
West Ham 1
West Ham started the second half on the front foot, winning a corner and forcing a goal line clearance by Mee after a Coufal cross set up an Antonio header. Moments later West Ham won a second corner when Antonio chased down a long ball and had his cross deflected out. The delivery was cleared despite Pope leaping for the ball and missing it. Antonio was then brought down just outside the Burnley penalty area, giving the Hammers a free kick. Rice went directly for goal it seemed, and it went over the bar.
West Ham had a great chance in the 60th minute to double their lead when Bowen beat Mee in the box, but his pass to Benrahma wasn’t good enough and Tarkowski intercepted. A few minutes later Benrahma sent Bowen on a run down the right, but when Antonio received a cross from the speedy winger he lost his footing and the shot went almost straight up in the air. Moments later a Benrahma pass into the box was deflected to Fornals, but his shot was blocked out for another West Ham corner. It was a good spell for the home side, but without an end product would it be looked back in vain?
Bowen continued his outstanding day in the 69th minute when Rice launched him with a long ball over the top. He settled the ball with his chest and got off a right footed shot. For a millisecond I thought it was a goal, only to be deflated to see it was only the side netting. Seconds later a cross into the West Ham box found Mee, but his header went wide as well. A minute later Dawson made a potentially critical error when his attempted header back to Fabianski went out for a corner. The delivery was decent, but Lowton’s soft header went wide.
West Ham started to sit farther back, inviting pressure. Which is always a dangerous gambit. A cross from Brady to Rodriguez required intervention from Dawson. Seconds later a cross from McNeill glanced the crossbar on its own. But when given the chance, the Hammers broke with purpose. A long ball for Antonio was then rolled to Bowen, who won a corner after his shot was deflected out by Pieters. Moments later Rice had a chance with a header in the box, but the young captain got no power behind it and Pope cradled it in his arms.
West Ham had a heart in throat moment in the 85th minute when a Lowton ball into the box bounced off of Rodriguez and flew just wide of the West Ham net. Then Rice launched Yarmolenko on the right, but Mee slid in and blocked the right footed effort out for a corner. Burnley handled the set piece, and all eyes returned to the clock.
When the fourth official put up four minutes of added time, I was incredulous. I figured no more than two. Vydra, who I think was once a West Ham loan target, danced into the box in what I was sure would end in a penalty. Instead, Ogbonna cleared. Maybe it was Cresswell. Hard to mix them up, I know, but defending one goal leads is particularly unnerving for me.
In the dying seconds of added time, Yarmolenko did well to get the ball to Lanzini inside the box but instead of a Spurs style net shaker in was a high miss over the bar. Tick, tick, tick.
West Ham 1
This will be cliche, but damn. These are games we are sooooo used to making a mess of. George Bucci from Moore Than Just A Podcast messaged our WhatsApp group “Waiting for Robbie Brady’s 93rd minute equalizer” about midway through the second half. I wanted to kill him, mostly because I agreed. Yet we held on. The last time we had these many points this early in a season we finished 5th under ‘Arry. But where we are in the table isn’t what we should focus on, although it’s tempting. It’s where we are in Moyes development of us as a proper club. It’s as if he and his staff are teaching us what it takes and how it feels to behave that way. It might take some getting used to.
I can live with that.