Villans Become Heroes with Stratford Point
By Tom Dowsett
Monday 27 Jul 2020 14:46:00
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West Ham United didn't exactly end their 2019/20 campaign in the way they would have hoped as they could only manage a 1-1 draw with newly-promoted Aston Villa in Stratford. The result also meant that the Villans achieved Premier League survival.

David Moyes made one change from the side that pulled off the draw at Manchester United on Wednesday night, as Ryan Fredericks slotted back into defence in place of the injured Aaron Cresswell. 

Dean Smith's side went into the game off the back of their own decent result on Tuesday, having picked up a vital 1-0 win over Arsenal and were just concentrating on backing that up with another positive result here and they started the game well.

It took West Ham until the tenth minute to have a clear effort at goal but having converted the penalty against the Red Devils, Michail Antonio found himself through on goal but could only fire wide after being played in by Issa Diop.

The visitors started the day outside of the relegation zone but only on goal difference. They had the chance to strengthen their case further when Matt Targett crossed for Mbwana Samatta but fortunately for the Hammers, goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański was able to claim the ball.

The hosts hadn't lost since Burnley took maximum points away from Stratford on July 8. They had another chance to open the scoring but Antonio's pass was slightly ahead of Jarrod Bowen's run meaning Villa were able to clear.

Declan Rice was announced as this season's Hammer of the Year before the game and having tried a couple of spectacular efforts in recent matches, he was next to try and get his team on the scoresheet. Unfortunately for him, he shot well wide.

Villa had only won twice away from home this season and went close to taking the advantage into the break when Connor Hourihane set up Jack Grealish but he was unable to beat Fabiański.

With Antonio having been booked in the first-half, Moyes decided to make a double change during the break. The lone frontman was replaced, along with Bowen, meaning Sébastien Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko were introduced.

Smith must have told his side to keep going during the interval because it was them who had the first chance of the second fourty five minutes when Samatta miscued but luckily for them, the ball fell invitingly for John McGinn. The Scotsman was in a good position to take the shot on but Diop produced a crucial block.

West Ham continued to search for the breakthrough, as Fredericks then went on the attack. Despite a good run, his shot didn't test José Reina in the visitors' goal.

Shortly after that, the hosts were awarded a free-kick, following Targett's foul on Captain Mark Noble. It was in a good position for Yarmolenko but unfortunately, he only succeeded in hitting the side netting.

The Irons then failed to take advantage of a golden chance when Noble picked out Haller but the Frenchman, who was perhaps unsighted, ended up heading over the top.

With sixty seven minutes gone, a third West Ham change was introduced when Manuel Lanzini entered the fray for Pablo Fornals.

Haller was at it again as he linked up to good effect with Lanzini to set up Rice for the midfielder to attempt another of his long-range shots but whatever he tried just wasn't coming off, as he missed the target again.

Both sides continued to cancel each other out and Diop dealt with everything that was heading his way.

The home fans would've wanted their team to finish the campaign on a high but with eighty four minutes on the clock, the visitors had other ideas. Grealish put them in front after Fabiański's mistake and they looked on course to be clinching three points on the road for only the third time this season.

However, within seconds of play getting back underway, the Hammers had equalised, as Yarmolenko's effort deflected past a helpless Reina.

Moyes then made a final substitution as the armband was handed to Rice when the skipper was replaced by Felipe Anderson in the eighty seventh minute.

West Ham pushed for a winner as four minutes of stoppage time were added but it wasn't forthcoming meaning it's a sixteenth place finish for the East London club.

The 2020/21 campaign begins on 12 September but before then, this site will keep its readers up to date with all the news regarding transfers in and out of Stratford, along with all the details of the fixtures during the shorter than usual summer break.

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