Enjoy positive Monday, brace yourself for piracy Tuesday and be ready for letters Wednesday
So we enter the final stages of a very strange season with relegation thoughts banished.
Given the achievement of the standard annual ambition of Sports Direct FC, it felt nice to be the “other team” in a game focused on the dogfight to stay in the Premier League for the second time in a week.
I have to say I’m not in the camp of people that would favour the Hammers heading down.
I understand the thought from anyone who’s had a less than pleasant trip to East London, especially those a bit older than me when there was a bit of niggle in this fixture. For me though I would prefer the Premier League to retain a bigger club that offers a more straightforward away trip, as opposed to some of the smaller, awkward to get to clubs fighting it out down there.
Bournemouth obviously tick both the uninspiring and inaccessible boxes, but having battered them midweek, it was only right to attack the Hammers with similar intent.
If a club goes down it’s due to their own actions across a season, but there’s something deeply annoying about a side that has worked it’s backside off to beat you, obligingly rolling over for a relegation rival later in the season, as the Ev did to us against their mates the mackems a few years back.
It may have felt like we were up for emulating this display of Evertonian spinelessness when West Ham were gifted a soft opener after four minutes. Former Newcastle target Jarrod Bowen slid a cross over which Lascelles made a dreadful hash of, effectively jumping over the ball in a style reminiscent of Enda Stevens’ mess up v Sheffield United which allowed ASM to start the post-restart ball rolling. Antonio was stood alone at the back post to give West Ham an easy lead.
Any fears of a collapse soon dissipated as United came back at the visitors strongly, playing with the freedom that nothing to play for tends to bring. Shelvey hammered a goalbound effort that the ref allowed Ogbonna to stop with his arm, while Gayle’s deflected free kick was well stopped by Fabianski.
The pressure soon paid off though, as ASM, quiet by recent standards, went on a mazy run into the box that drew about fifteen West Ham defenders. Krafth offered an outlet to his right and produced a sharp centre which Almiron converted at the front post.
The Hammers were clearly buoyed by their midweek win over Chelsea and kept themselves in the game, whereas you might be inclined to think that most versions of this season’s West Ham would crumble in this position. With Joelinton deflating most Newcastle attacks and ASM withdrawn after a knock and a quiet showing by his recent standards, the visitors gradually got the upper hand, taking the lead again when Rice’s header cannoned back off the bar for Soucek to thunder in the rebound.
You might have thought United would just switch off at this stage and this is exactly what happened. Fortunately, it was West Ham United who did this, and within 80 seconds, Gayle had been played onside by the dawdling full back, allowing him to flick into the path of Shelvey’s untracked run, the midfielder supplying a cool finish across the goalie.
I genuinely believed it was written for substitute Andy Carroll to break his scoring duck against his former club, but it was West Ham’s late replacement Yarmelenko who went the closest, Dubravka staying solid behind his vicious strike.
A draw that will probably be valuable to West Ham, albeit they’ll regret their switch offs at key times.
For us, the season threatens to peter out tamely, with an undoubted defeat coming on Wednesday that will probably see even a top half finish become a stretch challenge. I’m sure we’d all have taken that a year ago, and hopefully we can relax through the last five games, distractions from the decisive event that could change the entire course of our club’s history (or not).
So enjoy positive Monday, brace yourself for piracy Tuesday and be ready for letters Wednesday, cos here comes another bloody week.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 West Ham 2 – Sunday 5 July 2.15 pm
Almiron 17, Shelvey 67
Antonio 4, Soucek 65
(Half-time stats in brackets)
Possession was West Ham 47% (42%) Newcastle 53% (58%)
Total shots were West Ham 17 (9) Newcastle 11 (6)
Shots on target were West Ham 7 (4) Newcastle 4 (3)
Corners were West Ham 4 (1) Newcastle 6 (4)
Referee: Craig Pawson
Dubravka, Krafth, Fernandez, Lascelles, Manquillo, Shelvey, Hayden (Bentaleb 43), Almiron, Joelinton (Carroll 81), Gayle (Ritchie 70), Saint-Maximin (Lazaro 69)
Darlow, Schär, Yedlin, Rose, M. Longstaff
(Steve Bruce names 3 Newcastle United players after West Ham game who will miss Manchester City – Read HERE)
(David Moyes not a happy man after final whistle at St James Park – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 2 West Ham 2 – Match ratings and comments – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 2 West Ham 2 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Sunday’s draw – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 2 West Ham 2 – Watch official match highlights HERE including all 4 goals)
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf
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