The quality of West Ham eventually told, as they took the points at the London Stadium with a 2-1 win.
Big Sam made two changes to the side that beat Wolves on derby-day, as Johnstone returned from his absence due to Covid and Gallagher was back after suspension.
The Baggies looked defensively well-organised and compact for much of the first half, despite a majority of chances falling to West Ham. It was almost the dream start against his former club for Craig Dawson, after ghosting in at the back-post in the 7th minute, heading just wide. The best of our few first half chances came from a clever through ball from Pereira to Grosicki, pulling it back to the Brazilian magician, whose effort sailed over.
West Ham piled on the pressure with Coufal’s shot creeping past the post and a dangerous free kick from Lanzini skimming the top of Johnstone’s net. Bartley recovered superbly from Ajayi’s poor back pass to get his partner out of trouble, sliding in for a well-timed tackle on West Ham’s main threat, Antonio.
A well-contested first half concluded with a Bowen sucker-punch for the Hammers. Benhrama’s hopeful ball found Coufal in acres of space at the back-post, whose driven cross instinctively found the chest of Bowen, giving Johnstone no chance. The Baggies went in at half-time 1-0 down, with a big reaction needed in the second half.Embed from Getty Images
Whatever Big Sam said at half time certainly worked, as for the second game in a row we came out flying. A Pereira strike from just outside the box nestled into the bottom right corner, giving us the perfect start.
Defensive heroics followed from O’Shea, whose header off the line stopped an almost certain goal from Lanzini. The Baggies were fast asleep from a well worked West Ham free kick, with inches separating Declan Rice putting the Hammers ahead.Embed from Getty Images
With the game delicately poised at 1-1, West Ham made a double change on the 61st minute, bringing on Yarmolenko and Fornals. The changes payed dividends as a clever Antonio volley restored West Ham’s lead.
Allardyce went in search of an equaliser, bringing on Robson-Kanu with 10 minutes to go for Livermore. Furlong almost nicked a point in the dying embers, but his volley whistled past the post.
Despite our best efforts in the four minutes of added time, West Ham held on and took the points.
Some very encouraging signs from a much-improved Baggies, but again we finish the game empty handed.Embed from Getty Images
Our 12th loss of the season keeps us in 19th place, five points off 17th placed Burnley. We now look ahead to a season-defining run of fixtures, with Fulham and Sheffield United in our next 3 games.
Player Ratings: Johnstone (7), O’Shea (7), Ajayi (5), Bartley (6), Gibbs (6), Gallagher (7), Livermore (6), Sawyers (6), Grosicki (6), Pereira (7), Robinson (7). Subs: Furlong (6), Robson-Kanu (5)
West Brom: Johnstone, O’Shea, Ajayi, Bartley, Gibbs, Gallagher, Livermore (C) (Robson-Kanu 80′), Sawyers, Grosicki (Furlong 70′), Pereira, Robinson.
Subs (not used): Button, Ivanovic, Kipre, Peltier, Edwards, Krovinovic, Field
Booked: Gallagher (90+3)
West Ham: Fabianski, Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice (C), Soucek, Lanzini (Fornals 62′), Bowen, Benrahma (Yarmolenko 62′), Antonio (Noble 84′).
Subs (not used): Randolph, Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Alves, Johnson
Referee: Graham Scott