West Ham's Prayers are Answered at Vicarage Road
By Tom Dowsett
Monday 13 May 2019 12:01:00
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Victories on the road in 2019 have been like London buses for West Ham United, they have had to wait a while to get one and then two came at once, the latest was picked up against Watford at Vicarage Road on Sunday afternoon, as the Irons ended the 2018/19 campaign with a 4-1 success.

Manuel Pellegrini made two changes to the team that faced Southampton eight days earlier, as Declan Rice and Felipe Anderson were restored to the starting line-up after illness, meaning Grady Diangana and Pedro Obiang dropped out of the side.

The afternoon may have started badly for the visitors but fortunately for the travelling contingent, Gerard Deulofeu was set up by Will Hughes and beat goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Deulofeu, who scored the winner in the reverse fixture last December tried his luck again but the shot was superbly saved by Fabianski after the ball deflected into the former Everton man's path, following a deflection off Rice.

Javi Gracia's side were made to pay for all their early pressure when the Hammers took the lead with fifteen minutes gone. Captain Mark Noble was put through on goal by Michail Antonio as he raced past Christian Kabasele and beat goalkeeper Ben Foster with a left-footed shot to claim his 50th Premier League goal.

West Ham were dealt a blow on 26 minutes, as they had to make their first change. Ryan Fredericks picked up a hamstring injury and after trying to carry on, he was replaced by Pablo Zabaleta.

The visitors, who hadn't lost since 13 April were looking to continue their unbeaten run here but the home side were desperate not to go into Saturday's FA Cup Final on the back of a defeat and went in search of an equaliser. They nearly found one but fortunately, Roberto Pereyra wasted the opportunity when he shot straight at Fabianski.

Shortly after, the visitors doubled their advantage when Antonio drove his way into the box and unleashed a powerful shot. Although Foster diverted it onto the crossbar, he was left with no chance after the ball found its way back to Manuel Lanzini for the Argentine to head it past him.

The visitors went into the break looking comfortable and hoping to build on their last away success against Tottenham Hotspur on 27 April.

After being denied a goal at the start of the match, Deulofeu did get his name on the scoresheet just eleven seconds after the break. Zabaleta's backpass to Fabianski was pounced on by the Spaniard who was left with a tap-in to reduce the arrears.

West Ham then looked to set up a counter-attack which was halted when defender José Holebas was given a straight red card for pulling Antonio back after he latched onto Anderson's well-executed pass.

Being down to ten men didn't seem to have an effect on the home side who were still applying pressure in the hope of finding an equaliser but the visitors' defence stood firm, as Arthur Masuaku was on hand to deny Andre Gray a shot on goal just after the hour mark.

Shortly after, Pellegrini decided to make another change with Jack Wilshire being introduced for Lanzini.

Four minutes later, any chance of a comeback from the Hornets had surely been extinguished as the Irons went further ahead. Foster managed to push Anderson's shot onto the post, only for Marko Arnautovic to follow up and apply the telling touch to claim his third goal in consecutive games.

On 79 minutes, West Ham made their final change as Carlos Sánchez came on for Rice.

Some of the home fans had started to make for the exits just as referee Christopher Kavanagh had awarded the Hammers a penalty following Kiko Femenia's unnecessary foul on Antonio.

It was left to Noble to ensure that West Ham went back to East London having claimed their biggest win of the campaign with a fourth goal as he did what he does best and sent Foster the wrong way from the spot.

Pellegrini's men ended the season in some style, as after two minutes of stoppage time were added, the final whistle was blown ensuring that West Ham had secured their aim of a top half finish, following a four-match unbeaten run.

Details of transfers both in and out of Stratford, as well as all the 2019/20 fixtures will be available via this site as soon as they are announced.

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