West Ham United 2 West Brom 1
Albion put in another encouraging performance at the London Stadium but once again conceded two goals and, against a defence that hadn’t been breached for four games, they could only manage one in return.
In his post match interview, Allardyce was obviously pleased with the effort and the attacking play in the second half in particular, but he was also frustrated with the lapses at the back that ultimately cost Albion the points.
It was a surprise to everyone outside the two clubs when it was revealed that an agreement associated with Robert Snodgrass’s move from the London Stadium to the Hawthorns meant that he would not play in the match, an agreement that the Premier League are now investigating.
Without him, Allardyce brought Conor Gallagher back into the side with Pereira moving out to the right side, and Sam Johnstone was well enough to take his place between the sticks – they were otherwise unchanged.
The first half was a less-than-exciting encounter with West Ham having most of the ball but rarely threatening Johnstone’s goal. The pace of Robinson and Grosicki was always an outlet for Albion, but the overall ball retention in the side was not what it should be. The Baggies looked solid enough at the back but, in the dying moments of the first half, a short backpass by Semi Ajayi meant that West Ham stayed in the danger zone. That ultimately led to a cross from Benrahma to Coufal, who Grosicki was unaware of, and his first time half-volleyed cross was deflected into the net by Jared Bowen.
It was a bitter blow but the Baggies started the second half well and were back on level terms six minutes after the break when Matheus Pereira fired home from the edge of the box.
Albion looked brighter in the second period, knocking the ball around well, but the hosts responded and put the Baggies under sustained pressure. That resulted in Michail Antonio putting the Hammers back in front with a clever finish from six yards (pictured).
The Baggies had good chances to equalise through Conor Gallagher and Darnell Furlong, but they couldn’t find the quality to earn the point.
It was a frustrating evening but the performance level was much better than the norm for this campaign. If Albion can cut out those lapses in concentration, they can start picking up points regularly. After Man City next week, they face massive games against Fulham and Sheffield United which are great chances to pick up points.
Despite tonight’s defeat, the last two performances do give me hope – with one or two additions before the end of the month, Albion might have enough, but they will need a bit of luck, more quality and a lot of hard work.