Aug 22 West Ham United 3-4 AFC Bournemouth Att: 34977

Last updated : 09 September 2015 By Richie Barker

On a ridiculously hot day in East London Eddie opted to start with the same team that missed out so unluckily at Anfield. West Ham had the former Birmingham keeper Randolph in goal, whose extensive experience in picking the ball out of the net against Bournemouth would come in useful.

Bournemouth looked the more assured side in possession from the outset, with Gradel and Daniels causing problems down the left without quite finding the final ball to create a clear chance. For a momemt it seemed our vunerability from corners had resurfaced, but Reid's header was disallowed for a very unsubtle push on Elphick. "You're only here for a season" sang the home fans, which would quickly come back to haunt them.

It only took ten minutes to open our account in the top flight. Francis took on Cresswell down the right, looked to have come off second best but showed greater determination, robbing the defender and drilling in a low cross which Wilson smashed past Randolph first time. West Ham were struggling to keep possession against the hard working Bournemouth midfield and could easily have conceded another but Jenkinson managed to block Gradel's shot. The home crowd's demeanour shifted from concerned silence to murmurs of discontent as the visitors started to give a pretty fair demonstration of playing what used to be called "the West Ham way". This gave way to outright booing when Bournemouth added a second, as Cresswell was so impressed by the interchange of passes between O'Kane, King, Wilson and Gradel that he had to join in, rolling a perfect pass to Wilson who lifted the ball calmly over the bemused Randolph, probably having a distinct feeling of déjà vu. "We're only here for a season" we reminded the home fans.

Biliæ hauled off Ogbonna  after 35 minutes, and both full backs could easily have joined him as West Ham continued to be picked apart at the back. Wilson had a chance for a first half hat-trick but found the side netting, and then set up Gradel with a great opportunity just before half-time, but Randolph produced a good save.

Had we kept things tight for the first fifteen minutes of the second half it would have been close to game over. What we actually did was concede twice in rapid succession, which was less than ideal. West Ham's first attack of the half came from a free kick which we struggled to clear effectively , forcing King to make an injudicious challenge on the edge of the box. Noble hit the floor despite minimal conact and converted the resuting penalty. Minutes later our lead was wiped out. Boruc made a good save from Sakho and was entitled to ask why nobody had picked up Kouyate, who smashed in the rebound.

For ten minutes Bournemouth looked less than assured as as the home crowd got into it for the first time since the obligatory pre-match "Bubbles". Passes started going astray and patient build-up was sacrificed for speculative balls knocked forward. To their credit the team regained their earlier composure and set about testing the wobbly home defence once again. Pugh had replaced the injured King, enabling Gradel to adopt a more free-ranging central role, and the new alignment proved effective. Gradel went close again and Randolph made an excellent one-handed save after a flowing move culminated in a stike from 18 yards by Pugh.

Bournemouth eventually regained the lead when the hard-working Gradel won possession and gave the ball to Pugh on the left, who left two defenders tackling thin air as he cut inside and curled a perfect shot inside the far post. The same two players were instrumental in the build-up to our fourth goal. Pugh, defending on he edge of our box, played a long ball down the left wing. Jenkinson had ample time to deal with the situation, but not as much time as he seemed to want to take. Despite twice looking back over his shoulder at the onrushing Gradel, he allowed himself to be caught in possession by the speedy Ivorian and then, in a desperate attempt to recover his error, brought Gradel down as he cut into the box. Nobody bothered to contest the resultant red card and penalty, and Wilson calmly placed the spot kick inside the post to complete his hat-trick. "It's happened again" sang the Bournemouth fans to Randolph, who was nevertheless, and not undeservedly, named man of the match for West Ham, which was a fair indication of how the game had gone, and of how much worse it could and probably should have been for the home team.

Bournemouth contributed their own moment of defensive fragility to keep the game interesting.  Maiga cut in from the left, Cook charged out to meet him but didn't get close, leaving a big hole to for the substitute to stroll into and send Boruc the wrong way. Attempts to maintain possession and shut up shop for the remainder of the game were mixed with ambitious bids to add a fifth goal , culminating in an alarming scramble at the near post in the last minute of added time, but O'Kane got the ball away and we had our first win of the season.

There are still lessons to be learned, and this standard of defending won't be good enough against the better teams, but we're certainly not struggling to create chances at this level.

Man Of The MatchMax Gradel - with Wilson and Francis terrorised defenders, and also put in a lot of good defensive work.  

AFCB: Boruc, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Ritchie, O'Kane, Surman, Gradel, King, Wilson
Subs: Pugh (for King, 51 mins), Gosling (for Gradel, 85 mins), Smith (for Ritchie, 94 mins), Federici, Mings, Distin, Kermorgant

Richie Barker, Leyton