Three precious UEFA Europa Conference League Group B points were all that mattered to Craig Dawson at Silkeborg on Thursday night.
West Ham United did things the hard way in their second assignment of the group phase, recovering from falling behind to Kasper Kusk’s fifth minute goal to take a position of command by the break thanks to Manuel Lanzini’s penalty, Gianluca Scamacca’s rocket and a trademark set-piece goal from Dawson himself.
Two goals up, the Hammers were in cruise control for large periods of the second half, but faced a tricky ending when Søren Tengstedt cut the lead to 3-2 with 15 minutes left.
Alphonse Areola needed to make a late save from Tonni Adamsen to preserve the visitors’ victory and Dawson was grateful to take the points back to London.
“We made it difficult for ourselves towards the end,” the No15 admitted. “The performance wasn’t great but we got the three points.
“It was a difficult pitch to play on, at times it was scrappy, a bit sloppy, but we got the win in the end.”
Dawson netted twice in the Hammers’ run to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals last term and wasted no time in adding to his tally this time around, finding the net with a mixture of head and shoulder from Aaron Cresswell’s inswinging corner.
It was the perfect way to mark his first start of the season following a thigh injury and the centre back was thrilled to hear the travelling Claret & Blue Army in full voice yet again.
“They all count!” he smiled. “It was a great ball by Cress as always so it was great to get a goal.
“The crowd have been brilliant tonight and they always are. “It’s great to be back too, it’s been a while for me [since I last started a game] so it felt great to be out there with the lads.”
With two wins from two, the Hammers have set their Conference League campaign up perfectly – and Dawson is well aware of the importance of making a positive start having done exactly that last season.
He added: “We’ve got a lot more experience in Europe now to take into this year, so we’re just going to carry on, keep enjoying it and see where it takes us.”