From the Terraces

Cheikhou Kouyate

Fan blogger Joe Difford looks back at the game against Manchester United...

What began as a potentially thrilling clash between West Ham and Manchester United was spoiled within the opening fifteen minutes due to the most appalling refereeing decision of the season.

The back pages were littered with news of the outrageous sending off and offside goal to seal the away win, and it is another week where poor decisions are more prominent than what happened on the pitch.

Slaven Bilic’s men looked good value in the opening exchanges, pushing forward and keeping United from entering the home penalty area. But the game changing decision came when Sofiane Feghouli and Phil Jones both went in for a 50/50 challenge, clattering into each other as the ball was knocked away.

The West Ham man got back up but Jones stayed down, appearing to have been badly hurt, and Mike Dean showed the man in Claret and Blue the red card. A yellow card would have been harsh considering that the tackle was low, with studs down and no excessive force.

It is easy to say not to dwell on the decision, but it completely changed the game, forcing Michail Antonio out wide and leaving us with no out and out striker. Regardless, we pushed on, and did ourselves proud being a man down. Manual Lanzini came close from distance but saw David de Gea push his effort round the post.

Darren Randolph made a fine save of his own, stopping the ball on the goalline after it bounced back off the post, falling to Jesse Lingard just a few yards out. After the break, Juan Mata came on with Marcus Rashford and the duo combined well for the opener. Rashford moved down out left, where Feghouli would have been, and pulled it back for Mata to fire home.

A 1-0 loss would have been tough to take, but the goal hurt even more as Antonio missed the chance to put us ahead with a one-on-one just sixty seconds earlier. Zlatan Ibrahimovic then wrapped up all three points, scoring from an offside position when our defence pushed up fantastically.

At the end of the day, no amount of complaining will change the result and Feghouli’s sending off was rescinded. But it is difficult to accept the fact that a poor refereeing decision just 15 minutes in, spoiled what could have been a fantastic, even game of football.

Slaven Bilic’s men did superbly well considering, and should go into the next game against Manchester City in the FA Cup with plenty of confidence.

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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of West Ham United