Players and fans salute the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal’s Last Post
Hammers’ bubbles burst
Three matches, three victories, nine points – that’s all it took to see the Bees emerge from the doldrums into Premier League sunshine.
Following a three-nil limbering up against Burnley – even the presence of celebrity Alastair Campbell couldn’t disguise the Lancashire club’s deficiencies – followed by the courageous 2-0 turnaround against Chelsea, the Bees resumed their pattern of invariably getting the better of the pride of East London.
On this occasion they managed it with a much-needed goal by Neal Maupay, who hadn’t scored a PL goal since last September (for Everton) and must have been thinking he’d lost the knack. He has played well in his few appearances for Brentford this time around so here’s hoping ending the famine will make him even more potent in future.
Thomas Frank’s problems with an injury list as long as Matthias Jensen’s best throw, from close to the corner flag into the goalmouth, is by no means over, so it was especially welcome after 11 minutes when Maupay – lurking in the visiting penalty area like good centre-forwards do – nodded a deflected effort by Frank Onyeka past keeper Lukasz Famianski.
Jensen, Mbeumo and Wissa poised as West Ham’s Emerson takes a throw-in
As Bees’ keeper Mark Fekken had tripped and fallen when clearing the ball a few minutes earlier, only to extend a leg to push it towards safety, the mass exhalation of relief at Maupay’s goal was almost audible.
But the home crowd’s contentment was dampened within a few minutes with what was to be the goal of the game. Michail Antonio supplied the accurate cross for Mohammed Kudus to unleash an acrobatic volley that gave Flekken no chance of interfering. And when Jarrod Bowen, another centre-forward of the old school, put West Ham 2-1 ahead after 26 minutes, heads were not especially high when, after seven minutes added, the teams repaired for their cocoa or lemonade.
There had already been signs of Brentford’s irritation at having fallen behind – Mbeumo contributing two fizzers of shots that sadly fizzed wide – and after the break it was good to see the Bees continue where they had left off, but more so for all concerned other than Flekken, whose earlier bruising and fall when slapping the ball away must have had lingering effects.
Thomas Strakosha departed the bench to cope satisfactorily with everything that came his way, although this was not very much. Brentford, with their dander up, began to make inroads on a defence that seemed to grow shakier by the minute. After ten minutes of the second period a bout of ping-pong in the visitors’ goalmouth ended with defender Konstantinos Mavropanos getting into a muddle that ended with him heading into his own goal.
Ours! : West Ham’s former Bee Said Benrahma faces Ajer and Collins
The smart money was now going Brentford’s way, or would have been if the smart money had any sense. After 69 minutes Nathan Collins arrived at speed in the opposing penalty area and got his head behind Jensen’s grade-A cross in the manner of Ethan Pinnock at Chelsea the previous week. Collins’ first PL goal for the club was celebrated in the manner of Maupay’s earlier score, although perhaps not quite so gleefully as Neal.
Unsettled West Ham manager David Moyes patrolled the technical area like a caged tiger until referee Thomas Bramall trotted over to issue a yellow card. Admonishments were handed out here and there by Mr Bramall, the spirited singing of We’re Forever Blowing Bubbles faded and died in the visitors’ stand and Thomas Frank made a few substitutes, including that of Jensen to the accompaniment of prolonged applause from the cheerful home fans.
Wait for it: Janelt calculates just the right moment to release the ball
Former Bee, Said Benrahma, was among those of his players removed by David Moyes, somewhat surprisingly considering his efforts. The home crowd would probably have applauded him had they noticed.
And Ben Mee also reappeared following his injury, spending no more than a couple of minutes on the pitch and prompting the familiar ‘Meeee’ roar.
‘I love this club,’ Maupay was to say to Sky TV. ‘Meeee too.’ said my mate Charlie.
Bet your shirt on it: Bee returner Neal Maupay celebrates the end to his goal drought
Brentford: Flekken (substitute Strakocha 45m); Ajer (sub Roerslev 79), Collins, Pinnock, Janelt (sub Yarmolyuk 79)’); Onyeka, Jensen, Nørgaard; Mbeumo, Maupay, Wissa (sub Ghoddos 89).
West Ham United: Areola; Coufal, Mavropanos, Aquerd, Emerson; Kudus, Ward-Prowse, Soucek; Benrahma (sub Fornals 64); Bowen, Antonio (sub Ings 64).
Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor for the Bees United website. Photographs by Liz Vercoe.
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