Angelo Ogbonna: It’s good to be back
Angelo Ogbonna was proud of the way his teammates hauled West Ham United back into Saturday’s Premier League fixture at Newcastle United.
The Italian made his return to action at St James’ Park after nearly ten weeks out with an ankle injury, slotting into the left centre-back position vacated by Aaron Cresswell, who was himself ruled out after being hurt in the home win over Leicester City last weekend.
The plan was for Ogbonna to play between 60 and 70 minutes, according to the man himself, but a first half red card shown to Craig Dawson meant the experienced defender stayed on for the full 90 of what turned out to be a thrilling, draining game.
We need to keep going and keep pushing and in the end we will see what we can achieve
West Ham fell two goals behind and went down to ten men before half-time, only to show great spirit and ability to dominate the second half and get themselves level through Issa Diop’s header and Jesse Lingard’s penalty.
There was a late sting in the tail as substitute Joe Willock headed Newcastle to a 3-2 victory that affects the Hammers’ hopes of finishing in the top four, but Ogbonna says it will not dent their confidence.
“It was a fantastic game, to be fair,” he told West Ham TV. “Most of the time we were better than them, even in the first half, but then we conceded two goals.
“But in the second half the reaction of the team was fantastic and the effort was fantastic with one man down and we equalised. In the end we lost, but I think the effort was there and it was really amazing.
“We need to keep going and keep pushing and in the end we will see what we can achieve.”
Despite the disappointment of suffering just a fourth defeat in 16 Premier League matches in 2021, Ogbonna was certainly not going to blame his teammates, who have performed superbly in recent months, for the loss.
“Daws and Fabianski have been fantastic all season and in football these things happen,” he observed. “The most important thing was the reaction, which was very good.
“In the second half we dominated and that is the effort of this squad. Everyone is involved and we keep going. The fitness was incredible to be fair. I didn’t think I would finish the game, but at the end I didn’t have any chance to stop, but it’s OK.
“It wasn’t the plan to play 90, I think, but I finished the game without any kind of reaction and the guys helped me a lot, so it’s good to be back.”