West Ham United manager David Moyes was disappointed his players’ efforts saw them on the losing side in a hard-fought first fixture back following the Premier League restart.
Playing in unfamiliar circumstances behind closed doors at London Stadium, both West Ham and Wolverhampton Wanderers struggled to establish any kind of rhythm in the match for long stretches, with clear-cut chances few and far between.
Against a high-flying Wolves side, however, West Ham held their own, their best opportunity arriving in the first half when Pablo Fornals ran free in behind to meet Mark Noble’s accurate long ball, but the Spaniard was unable to control his finish.
The difference in the game was ultimately made by Wolves substitute Adama Traore, the athletic Spanish winger coming off the bench to play his part in both Wolves goals; firstly breaking to the byline to tee up Raul Jimenez, before beating two men to start the move which culminated in Pedro Neto volleying home Matt Doherty's centre.
We’ve just started. We’ve got tough games coming up, but we’ve also got other games which might suit us a bit better
Moyes therefore believes that, while the final scoreline provoked by the visitors’ two moments of quality was disappointing, there were enough positives his side could take from the game.
“I thought up until they brought on Traore we’d defended quite well,” the manager revealed. “I thought we’d limited them to not too many opportunities.
“We were playing against a good team and it felt like we were up against a good side, but I thought we were plugging away. We’d done some things ourselves which were okay, but I think the difference was when Traore came on.
“It wasn’t so much the defending against Traore, because of his pace and power, it’s more disappointing that we didn’t defend the crosses well, because we work on it – we make sure we’re in the right positions and areas to defend them. His [Traore’s] power and pace are difficult to stop at times, so at least let’s do the next bit if we can’t stop that.
“We’ve just started. We’ve got tough games coming up, but we’ve also got other games which might suit us a bit better. I think anyone who knows football might tell you that Wolves have been a very good side.”
The Irons were forced to chase the game once Jimenez’s header granted Wolves the lead in the 73rd minute, and came close to levelling on several occasions, with Michail Antonio's strike from distance just missing the top corner.
Without injured top scorer Sebastien Haller in the squad, however, Moyes felt his team struggled to produce sufficient chances against a compact Wolves defence.
“We felt as if we were a bit short up front today,” Moyes added. “We knew that if we were going to have to chase the game it would be difficult, but we felt as if we were doing okay.
“We were keeping at it and hoping that maybe something would come for us, but obviously a very strong and powerful winger came on for Wolves and made a big difference.
“I thought it [Fornals’ chance] was a big opportunity for us. It was a chance where you’re hoping that you hit the target and we do something with it. We want to make more chances and they made it hard for us to do that today, but again, the players stuck at it.
“We wanted to be better, we wanted to raise our standards, we want to play better, but for long periods we did okay.”