Stubborn Cherries Prove Too Strong for Hammers
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 20 Jan 2019 11:34:00
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West Ham United's last victory on the road came on the South Coast at Southampton last month and on Saturday afternoon they had another appointment there but this time they were in Dorset, hoping for the same outcome but unfortunately, they were beaten 2-0 by AFC Bournemouth at The Vitality Stadium.

Manuel Pellegrini had already decided he would leave Marko Arnautovic out of the matchday eighteen but reports in the written press earlier in the day had suggested that his proposed move to China had fallen through.

Nevertheless, Andy Carroll replaced him in the starting line-up, while Javier Hernández had made a timely return from both hamstring and back injuries to take his place on the bench.

Although the Hammers went into the game with form behind them after their triumph over the Gunners, it was the home side who had the better opportunities in the first-half.

Eddie Howe's Cherries thought they had gone in front after 21 minutes through Nathan Aké but the travelling support were relieved to see the linesman's flag raised for an offside decision against Callum Wilson.

At the other end four minutes later, Samir Nasri went close after the hosts had made a hash of clearing the ball but the Frenchman missed by inches.

Declan Rice was hoping he could try his luck again here after his superb strike last weekend but both he, together with Bournemouth's Adam Smith, were off target with their efforts.

Referee Simon Hooper brought a cagey first-half to a close but everything was still to play for.

It would be fair to say that the tempo went up a notch after the break with both teams again having good chances. Firstly, Steve Cook was denied by a brilliant diving save from Lukasz Fabianski; then at the other end, Carroll blew a gilt-edged chance to put his side in front when he blazed over after Michail Antonio set him up perfectly.

Carroll soon realised why that chance was so important because on 54 minutes, the hosts went in front and it was Wilson who claimed his third goal in as many matches against the Irons when the ball fell nicely for him after Ryan Fraser's cross deflected off the unfortunate Issa Diop.

With the game not going in his team's favour, Pellegrini made a double change on 66 minutes with Robert Snodgrass and Hernández replacing Nasri and Carroll.

The changes didn't seem to make much difference as Bournemouth went ever so close to increasing their advantage but Fabianski tipped Wilson's shot away from danger.

On 79 minutes West Ham made their final change as Grady Diangana, who had recently signed a contract extension until 2025, came on for captain Mark Noble.

The last significant action of the game saw Howe's men clinch the points in the final minute of the three that were added on for stoppages. Unlike Carroll, Joshua King made no mistake from close range as he took advantage after David Brooks had played him in.

West Ham's Premier League duties came to a disappointing end but they have the chance to cement their place in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup with a second trip of the campaign to face Sky Bet League One side AFC Wimbledon for a late kick-off on Saturday.

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