FULL TIME: West Ham United 2-0 Huddersfield Town
And that’s that. West Ham deserved their win, even if they needed a huge stroke of fortune to break the deadlock. They rise off the foot of the table, while Huddersfield taste Premier League defeat for the first time. ♫ Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Slaven, happy birthday to yoo-o-ou! ♪ ♫
90 min +3: Rice comes on for Obiang.
90 min +2: West Ham are happy to sit back and admire their work. Mooy scurries about, trying to make something happen for Huddersfield, but he can’t prise the Hammers open.
90 min: There will be four added minutes.
88 min: Mounie and Ince combine well down the inside-right channel, but the latter’s shot is blocked, its energy removed, and deflected into the arms of Hart. West Ham go up the other end, Antonio snatching at a shot from the right of the D. He’s been excellent tonight, though, and has deservedly won the man of the match award.
87 min: West Ham let Huddersfield string a few passes together in the midfield. Once the visitors get near the penalty area, the space is closed down.
85 min: A sense that this game is done and dusted, which it pretty much is of course. A celebratory atmosphere in the London Stadium.
83 min: A couple of changes. Carroll is hooked for Sakho, while Billing is replaced by Depoitre. “I’d just like to let Gavin Hutchinson (15 mins) know that there’s a word for a John Charles / Marco Van Basten cross,” writes Geoff Wignall. “Well, two words actually, neither of them Andy or Carroll: Denis and Law. Once of Huddersfield of course.”
81 min: From the set piece, there’s a half-arsed claim for a penalty as the ball brushes Obiang’s arm. They’ll not get that. But then the ball finds Ince on the edge of the area. He lashes a rising shot goalwards. The ball smacks the bar, having taken a little nick along its way. What an effort! And it’s all for nothing, because that’s what the next corner comes to.
79 min: West Ham deserve their lead on the balance of play. Mounie tries to respond with a snap shot from the right of the West Ham D. Hart is forced to tip the ball round the right-hand post before it sneaks into the corner.
GOAL! West Ham United 2-0 Huddersfield Town (Ayew 77)
Clear daylight for West Ham! A corner’s won down the right. It’s whipped towards the near post, where Fonte attempts to bundle the ball home. It’s blocked on the line, but squirts out of a melee and sits up for Ayew, who pokes home from a couple of yards! The atmosphere is bubbling up nicely now, and it looks like being a very happy birthday for Slaven Bilic!
75 min: Sabiri comes on for Kachunga.
74 min: Obiang’s shot was probably going wide left, on second view. That may well go down as a Jorgensen own goal.
GOAL! West Ham United 1-0 Huddersfield Town (Obiang 72)
Huddersfield finally concede a goal in the Premier League, and they’re awfully unlucky! Ayew zips in from the right and slides the ball to Obiang, who has a dig from 25 yards. He’s aiming for the top left. The ball twangs off Jorgensen’s back, loops up, and flies along an unstoppable arc, dropping into the top-right corner. Lossl had no chance, and the London Stadium explodes in relief!
71 min: Antonio is stopped in his tracks down the left by Jorgensen, a light slap to the chops. There wasn’t much in that, though the defender wants to watch himself, on a booking as he is. The resulting set piece is swung in by Cresswell, whose delivery has been excellent tonight. Three West Ham players line up in the middle, but none of them can make contact.
69 min: Cresswell crosses deep from the left, forcing Malone into an acrobatic clearance for a corner at the far post. The set piece is gathered, after a jugging fashion, by Lossl.
68 min: Mooy has a bash from distance. It’s always rising. But it’s something. Huddersfield have been very quiet in attack.
66 min: It’s all got a bit scrappy again. Thank goodness for this report’s co-author Paul Beaumont, then. He’s got news of a “PLOT TWIST IN NORWAY! The Christian Party has just announced that it will not join nor prop up a coalition that allows FRP (read UKIP) to stay in power: ‘The distance between us is too big.’ The left may take back power after all! No sign of Huddersfield plot twist mind. Clean sheet record hanging by a thread.”
64 min: Both teams make a change. Lowe is replaced by Malone; Hernandez is replaced by Ayew. The home fans don’t like that decision at all, and meet it with a smattering of boos. “You’re getting sacked in the morning,” trill paying punters of unidentified stripe. It’s his birthday, for goodness sake!
62 min: Zabaleta hovers on the right-hand corner of the Huddersfield box, receives a pass, then scoops a cross to the far post, nearly finding Carroll. The big man can’t get his head on the ball. But there’s a sense that chances are a-coming, at both ends.
61 min: It’s opening up, this game, now. Huddersfield win a corner down the right. Some head tennis. West Ham clear their lines. Then the visitors come again, Ince having a dig from 25 yards. It clanks off Reid’s ankle. The sting removed, the ball loops into the air and into the arms of Hart.
59 min: And now it’s time for Huddersfield fans to take a sharp intake of breath, as Schindler makes an awful hash of controlling a long West Ham punt, and slices it out of play to the left of his own goal. The corner comes to nothing, but that was nearly disastrous for the visitors.
58 min: Mounie threatens to break clear down the inside-left channel with West Ham very light at the back. He’s flagged offside. Hart then tries to take a quick free kick with a rolling ball. He batters it straight at Mounie, who wasn’t ten yards away, and gets a second go. A few West Ham hearts in mouths there for a second.
56 min: Fonte curls a cross in from the right. Hernandez, on the edge of the D with his back to goal, plays a cute reverse pass down the inside-right channel for Kouyate, just inside the area. Never quite in control, always battling with Schindler, Kouyate nevertheless manages to fire a low shot meant for the bottom right just wide of the post. That’s a lovely move: simple, crisp and effective. And so nearly the opening goal.
54 min: Hart’s hands are warmed for the first time this evening, as Billing drops a shoulder to make room for himself 25 yards from goal, and sends a heatseeker towards the bottom right. The West Ham keeper is behind it all the way, smothering without fuss.
53 min: All a bit scrappy this. Hernandez tries to release Antonio down the inside-right channel but his pass clanks into the first blue-and-white shirt. “It’s election time down here in New Zealand too, or will be in 11 days,” reports Paul Cockburn. “I empathise with our Huddersfield-supporting Norwegian friends, because we too have the chance to turf out the incumbent right-of-centre government in favour of something bold and new. Tonight though, Kiwi Hammers (of which there are quite a few watching via MBM or at the pub at 8am in various cities; we have a Facebook page and everything) are just hoping that we can scrape up one more vote off Andy’s pony-tailed nut to settle this, and to take some of the jitters away. This could be a long 45 minutes otherwise.”
51 min: Huddersfield launch a quiet sortie into West Ham territory, Mooy slipping the ball wide left to Van La Parra, whose cross is way too deep. Goal kick. Meanwhile Paul Beaumont is back: “How we (Huddersfield) have not conceded here is beyond me. We have West Ham’s profligacy to thank for that. I reckon Huddersfield’s lethargy stems from Mooy being off-colour – our star bald Aussie midfielder – who has often struggled when coming back from international duty. However, there are some reasons for optimism. West Ham seemed to tire towards the end of the half: one can’t press for 90, and I reckon they are probably burnt out. Also, Wagner has a history of being able to make game changing substitutions to secure late goals. Prediction: Kelsey Palmer comes off the bench for Ince and repeats his goal scoring exploits for the England Under-21s with a tidy finish from 18 yards. 1-0 Huddersfield. You heard it hear first. Meanwhile if you are living in my house in Norway you are already miserable as it appears the Green’s are set to fall short of the 4% threshold necessary to gain a proportional number of the seats. Meanwhile, Norway’s Ukip, the Progress Party, look set to more or less retain their 15% of the vote.”
49 min: Zabaleta whips a fine cross into the Huddersfield box from the right. It causes no danger. Frustrated, he slides in on Van La Parra, and is correctly booked for the lunge.
48 min: Hernandez looks for the top right with the free kick, but converts in the rugby style instead. West Ham have started the second half in very positive fashion, though.
47 min: A long ball forward by Collins drops to Antonio on the edge of the box. He takes a fresh air shot. But West Ham come back again at Huddersfield, who only half clear, and Schindler clumsily clatters into Antonio. A free kick, 25 yards out.
And we’re off again! West Ham get the ball rolling. More pretty bubbles in the air.
Shameless half-time plug. I’ve written a new book. An oblique nod to Abbott and Costello, it’s called The Title, and it’s the history of the old First Division before the Premier League circus rolled into town. Huddersfield are naturally well represented, and there’s a fair bit of West Ham too. The Observer kindly published an extract: the bit they chose is light on Terriers, but heavy on dog.
HALF TIME: West Ham United 0-0 Huddersfield Town
Van La Parra strides down the middle and slips the ball to Ince on his right. Ince reaches the area. A sucker punch by Huddersfield right at the end of the half? Nope. Ince doesn’t really connect with the shot and it’s blocked. And that’s that for the opening 45. West Ham have been the better side, but Huddersfield still haven’t conceded a goal in this year’s Premier League. Don’t go away! Back soon!
45 min: Billing is booked for hanging an arm into Zabaleta’s face. That looked accidental, too, though Zabaleta isn’t too happy about it, feeling his lip gingerly.
44 min: After a brief tussle in the midfield, Reid can-cans a boot into Mounie’s face. It’s the craze of the week. It’s unintentional, and after the magic sponge is applied to the Huddersfield striker’s coupon, we play on.
43 min: A free kick for West Ham, 30 yards out in a central position. Cresswell looks to curl one into the top right, but gets it all wrong. The ball flies harmlessly over the bar. “I think it’s safe to say Bilic has not lost the dressing room,” observes Paul Beaumont of 12th-minute fame. “West Ham are playing for their lives and beating Huddersfield at their own gegenpress here. Meanwhile here in Norway, it looks like the right will squeak it, but its too early to know for sure.”
40 min: After a brief lull, West Ham spring into life again. Cresswell hoicks a cross into the Huddersfield box from the left. Carroll cushions a header back to Antonio, on his own on the penalty spot! But Antonio sends a harmless bobbler wide right of the target, disappointing a crowd expecting the net to ripple.
37 min: But West Ham keep coming back at Huddersfield. The extremely impressive Antonio drops a shoulder to cut in from the right, and looks to shape one into the top left. His effort is deflected over the bar. The corner is another of the great non-events.
36 min: Carroll has a lash from 25 yards. It’s deflected wide left of the goal from a corner. And that’s another set piece which goes by without Lossl having to work.
35 min: A rare Huddersfiled attack, with Kachunga dribbling in from the left. But he loses control and slides in on Kouyate, conceding a needless free kick. West Ham have looked extremely comfortable at the back.
34 min: Cresswell whips a fine cross into the mixer from the left. It reaches Carroll at the far post, but for once the big man isn’t on the front foot, and the ball sails away to the right, the danger gone. West Ham are giving this a good go.
33 min: West Ham have had six attempts on goal to Huddersfield’s none. But the Terriers still haven’t conceded this season.
32 min: Zabaleta charges down a Lowe clearance and very nearly breaks clear into the Huddersfield area down the right. Lowe does well to regain his composure, get in the way, usher the ball out of play, and purchase a cheap free kick while he’s at it.
30 min: And now Antonio wins a corner down it. Lossl comes off his line to claim the set piece, and gets nowhere it. Carroll rises and sends a header goalwards. It’s deflected off a nearby defender for another corner, from which Kouyate goes down, feeling the breath of Smith on the back of his neck. He’s incensed, sure he’s been shoved to the ground, but there was very little in that, and the referee isn’t the least bit interested.
28 min: Zabaleta has been extremely lively down this right wing. His relentless pressing forces Lowe into a panicked backpass, then Lossl into a shanked clearance. Nothing comes of it, but West Ham are enjoying themselves down this flank.
26 min: … and it’s met by Collins, eight yards out. He really should score, but his downward header is fairly weak, and snaffled by Lossl before it can sneak into the bottom right. He holds his head in his hands, knowing full well one’s got away there.
25 min: Antonio bursts down the left at great pace. Mooy is left standing. Jorgensen is forced to come across and scythe him down in the traditional style. That’s a booking, a free kick, and a chance to load the box. Though I wonder whether the referee could have let play go on for a little bit, as Hernandez had picked up possession on the left-hand corner of the six-yard box, albeit with his back to goal. Anyway, free kick it is …
24 min: … nothing much. Huddersfield dealt with that without too much problem, surrounding Carroll and giving him little opportunity to attack the ball.
23 min: Good work by Hernandez, Zabaleta and finally Fonte down the right, the first two dribbling around, the latter forcing a corner. From which …
21 min: Carroll battles for possession just outside the Huddersfield area. He does extremely well to win the ball, but then sends a weak dribbler straight at Lossl. A chance to make the keeper work spurned.
20 min: Huddersfield are slowly getting a foothold in the game, though. Smith nearly finds Mounie in the centre with a cross from the right, but there’s not enough height on the ball. Then he exchanges passes with Kachunga down the same wing, a move that goes nowhere, but was pretty enough at the time.
18 min: Now Ince tries to instigate an attack down the right, but somehow manages to clumsily handle the ball as he’s dribbling with it! The home crowd enjoyed that. It’s almost as though they’ve got issues with his pop.
17 min: Ince tries to send Van La Parra away down the left, but his attempted threaded pass is way too weighty. Huddersfield have shown very little in attack so far.
15 min: Carroll is penalised a couple of times in short order for common-or-garden fouls in the Huddersfield half. He’s putting himself about all right. Meanwhile Paul Beaumont (12 min) is not the only Terriers fan living with the fear. Here’s Gavin Hutchinson: “It’s the hope that kills you, and I’ve gone from enjoying the sheer novelty of being in the top flight to now fearing the inevitable first Huddersfield defeat. Andy Carroll has morphed into some mix of John Charles and Marco van Basten in my head. Can you remind me it doesn’t matter? Please?” Sorry, can’t. But at least you don’t have an era-defining general election to worry about, look at it that way.
13 min: Antonio turns on the jets down the right, skinning Lowe with great ease. He reaches the byline and pulls the ball back for Hernandez, who should score from 12 yards but leans back and twangs the crossbar with his shot! The affair earns West Ham a corner in the end, but they do nothing with it. That was a magnificent run by Antonio, though.
10 min: … there’s a bit of head tennis, then Billing goes down with a sore noggin and the referee stops play. “The fact that Bilic is bigging up Carroll and talking about playing ugly suggests he has hit upon our Achilles heel from last year,” begins Paul Beaumont. “Big lads, set pieces, and direct football led to Huddersfield losing quite handily to seemingly mediocre opposition (e.g. Preston). We seemed to get better as the season went on but whether we can cope with Andy Carroll is another question. Perhaps Mounie (‘got a head like a foot’) will cancel him out from set pieces but I maybe not. I was feeling confident before I read the teamsheets, now I am quiet anxious. PS. Am writing from Norway which is having a general election tonight. Hopefully will end up watching Town squeeze out a win and the the ruling blue-blue coalition (think Tories ruling with Ukip) get ousted. Or, and this seems more likely, watch Huddersfield shunted back to earth with a bump while Norway votes to further undermine its Nordic utopia.”
9 min: Persistence by Zabaleta down the right. A deep cross is met by Carroll, whose mere presence forces a corner. From which…
8 min: A lot of rain. Ince glides in from the left and momentarily worries his dad’s old team. It’s a tricky jink, but he ends up down a dead end and Zabaleta sorts the situation out for West Ham.
5 min: Collins takes a whack upside the head while dipping into a challenge with Ince. That’s a sore one, but he’s up as quickly as he’s down, and there was no Ederson-Mane dynamic there. We play on.
3 min: It really is tipping down in Stratford. On the touchline, Slaven Bilic’s suit is already drenched. Happy birthday! Zabaleta makes some space down the right and finds Carroll, who can only hook high and wide. But this is a positive start by the home side.
And we’re off! The visitors get the ball rolling. The bubble machines still giving it plenty. Ditto the crowd, who have waited a long time for their home season to start. Huddersfield waste no time in streaming forward, Mounie trying a cheeky flick down the inside-right channel. But it breaks down and the Hammers flood up the other end. Carroll chests down a right-to-left diagonal ball, and suddenly he’s clear of Smith in the area! He blasts a low cross through the six-yard box. Antonio is a toenail away from sliding in and poking home, but Huddersfield escape. Nearly a fantastic start by Carroll and West Ham!
The teams are out! West Ham take to the pitch at the London Stadium for the first time this season. They’re in their famous claret and blue. Huddersfield are in their equally storied blue-and-white-striped shirts. Plenty of pretty bubbles in the air. And a lot of rain. It’ll be a decent surface for passing all right. We’ll be off in a minute!
There’s a lot riding on this game for Slaven Bilic, whose coat is hanging on a shoogly peg. While we wait for kick off, here’s our man Jacob Steinberg’s expert take on the situation.
No song for David Wagner tonight; his 46th birthday isn’t for another month. “Tonight’s challenge is a big one, a difficult one. But we should be focused on ourselves, and hopefully we are prepared. I did not realise we have named the same side three times in a row until you said. We wanted to find a set-up where we are competitive, it wasn’t in my mind to keep the same 11 players but it’s happened! We are excited, this is a great occasion. We like to make ourselves independent from the circumstance, but it is easier to play in this occasion than another game in the Championship on a Tuesday night! Nothing is better than this. We will be focused on ourselves and try to cause West Ham as many problems as possible.”
♫ Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Slaven, happy birthday to yoo-o-ou! ♪ ♫ Bilić, 49 today, speaks: “Andy Carroll always has a big impact on the game. He is fit, and looks sharp. We didn’t want to push him before. It’s a big boost for us. But it’s about the team, not just about Andy. Lanzini, Noble and Fernandes are injured, but we have changed the formation a bit and we still have a good team. We are going to fight and try to win the game. A good performance doesn’t always mean sexy football; a big performance has to be solid, to have a lot of spirit and energy. We definitely need a good performance!”
Three-time FA Cup winners West Ham United have lost their first three matches, shipping ten goals along the way. By comparison, three-time title winners Huddersfield Town have won two of their first three games and drawn the other, and have yet to concede a goal. And all of this is reflected in the team news.
West Ham make five changes to the team that went down 3-0 at Newcastle United. Out go Angelo Ogbonna, Mark Noble, Edimilson Fernandes, Declan Rice and Andre Ayew; in come Jose Fonte, Cheikhou Kouyate, Pedro Obiang, Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll. Big Andy is making his first start of the season.
Huddersfield meanwhile are operating an ain’t-broke-so-no-need-to-fix policy. Theirs is the same starting XI for the third game in a row.
West Ham United: Hart, Collins, Reid, Fonte, Zabaleta, Kouyate, Obiang, Cresswell, Antonio, Carroll, Hernandez.
Subs: Adrian, Sakho, Ayew, Ogbonna, Byram, Masuaku, Rice.
Huddersfield Town: Lossl, Smith, Jorgensen, Schindler, Lowe, Mooy, Billing, Kachunga, Ince, van La Parra, Mounie.
Subs: Malone, Sabiri, Coleman, Williams, Depoitre, Hadergjonaj, Hefele.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).
Good evening …
… and welcome to our coverage of the Monday night football. In which West Ham United attempt to save their manager’s skin, while Huddersfield Town hope to keep partying like it’s 1925. Could be a cracker! It’s on!
Kick off: 8pm.
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