Jesse Lingard has last laugh as West Ham can’t buy a goal in frustrating Nottingham Forest loss

·3 min read
Jesse Lingard will savour Nottingham Forest’s win over West Ham at the City Ground  (PA)
Jesse Lingard will savour Nottingham Forest’s win over West Ham at the City Ground (PA)

Perhaps after waiting 23 years to host a Premier League game, it was written in the stars that Nottingham Forest would win this match against West Ham.

It certainly felt like that at times and, when Hammers boss David Moyes reviews this game, he will be wondering how his side left the City Ground with nothing.

Over the course of the 90 minutes, the Hammers did everything but score. They had a goal ruled out by VAR, hit the crossbar twice, missed a penalty and also had an effort cleared off the line.

This was not, however, a smash-and-grab performance from Forest who, backed on by a raucous home crowd, held their own. At times in the first half they were excellent, playing direct and fast football, with Brennan Johnson and Taiwo Awoniyi proving a handful up front.

It was the latter who got the game’s only goal, bundling the ball home from a few yards out after Jesse Lingard’s scuffed shot had been blocked.

That will have no doubt pleased Lingard after West Ham fans marked their reunion with him by lobbing fake pound notes onto the City Ground pitch.

But West Ham couldn’t buy a goal all afternoon and, while this was a dream day for Forest and one that’ll live long in their memory, it was one to forget for the Hammers.

The match turned shortly before half-time, when West Ham thought they were going in 1-0 up but instead went into the break behind.

A slick West Ham counter saw Said Benrahma go clean through but, after he slotted the ball home, VAR spotted Michail Antonio had barged into Orel Mangala in the build-up.

Only moments later, Forest were ahead as Awoniyi knocked the ball home from a few yards away to take the roof off the City Ground.

On the balance of the opening 45 minutes it was probably what the hosts deserved for their attacking intent, but in the second half they had to dig deep.

Fornals smacked the crossbar with an effort and then Benrahma did the same around the hour mark from a free-kick. How it didn't go in was anyone’s guess, with half the West Ham team holding their hands on their head in disbelief.

Benrahma was the Hammers’ best player and if they were to score, it felt like he would be involved. That certainly seemed the case when in the 65th minute he skipped down the left and teed up Tomas Soucek. The goal was gaping, but Scott McKenna cleared it off the line with his arm.

Declan Rice, so often the Hammers hero last season, grabbed the ball but his penalty was saved by Dean Henderson. Confirmation, if it was ever needed, that this wouldn’t be West Ham’s day.

In the final 10 minutes, West Ham threw the kitchen sink at Forest, with new boys Gianluca Scamacca and Maxwel Cornet coming on. It was Kurt Zouma, though, who went closest as Neco Williams got back to clear his header off the line. Another defining moment on a day that most certainly belonged to Forest. The 23-year wait was worth it.