Seagulls See Off The Hammers In Style

James Sarfas reports on West Ham's first league defeat of 2018, with problems piling up both on and off the pitch.

The AMEX

A beleaguered West Ham United side fell to a demoralising 3-1 away defeat at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, piling more pressure on Hammers co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan.

Chants demanding change at boardroom level were heard throughout the 90 minutes, with a poor performance on the pitch doing nothing to ease tensions at the club.

False start

The Hammers seemed doomed from the outset. Just over seven minutes had elapsed when Brighton danger-man Glenn Murray put the Seagulls 1-0 up.

Carelessness from experienced heads in the West Ham ranks allowed Brighton to expertly counter attack. A dangerous lunge from left-back Aaron Cresswell saw the ball kindly enter the path of Brighton midfielder Pascal Groß, who confidently swept it into the path of Murray; netting his seventh Premier League goal of the campaign in the process.

Despite Brighton’s early opener, David Moyes’ outfit did not seem to respond effectively. Slow and lethargic play was the order of the day and on a number of occasions West Ham were forced to play the ball back to the defence as Brighton’s back-line successfully repelled any danger.

Lifeline

On the stroke of the half-hour mark, West Ham found their way back into the contest. Quick and decisive build-up play, featuring a Javier Hernandez nutmeg, resulted in the ball being knocked back into the direction of the Mexican poacher. He cleverly danced his way through the Seagulls defence before firing home in front of 3,000 travelling supporters, sending the away support into delirium.

Chicharito’s neat finish, perhaps undeservedly, meant both sides entered the half-time interval unable to be seperated a one goal a piece.

Setback

Brighton started how they left off and increasingly ventured forward in numbers. Their pressure paid off in the 59th minute thanks to a superb strike. After a succession of corners that didn’t pay off, Jose Izquierdo found the back of the net in spectacular fashion.

A headed clearance wasn’t properly dealt with by the Hammers defence, leaving the Colombian World Cup hopeful to curl a delightful ball beyond Adrian, kissing the inside of the net on its way in. Izquierdo ran the length of the pitch in celebration, which must’ve felt like the Brighton seafront for the 25-year-old, ripping off his blue and white shirt in the process.

A buoyant Brighton support now urged Chris Hughton’s men to find a third as the Brighton attack peppered shots towards Adrian’s goal.

Bad to worse

With 15 minutes to go, following Leonardo Ulloa’s homecoming onto the pitch as a substitute, all three points were sealed. A poor clearance from James Collins found the chest of Seagulls record signing Davy Pröpper, who with inch perfect precision, found the run of Groß. The German playmaker skipped past Angelo Ogbonna before curling a sweet shot well beyond the reach of Hammers goalkeeper Adrian.

The introduction of deadline day signing Jordan Hugill for West Ham with ten minutes to play did not affect proceedings and Brighton ran out worthy winners on the south coast.

Brighton’s victory puts the club level on points with West Ham on 27 as the battle to avoid the drop heats up. Just three points separate Watford in 11th and Huddersfield Town in 19th. The Hammers face Watford next at home, whilst Brighton make the trip up north to face fellow strugglers Stoke City.