Nottingham Forest 1-0 West Ham United
Premier League, City Ground, 14 August 2022
West Ham United fell to a 1-0 defeat against newly promoted Nottingham Forest in Sunday’s Premier League fixture.
Forest’s Taiwo Awoniyi scored the only goal of the game at the end of the first half, albeit in slightly fortuitous circumstances as Ben Johnson’s attempted clearance clipped the striker and rolled into the net.
The scoreline, however, does not tell the full story of the fixture at the City Ground as the Hammers saw a first-half Saïd Benrahma finish ruled out by VAR, before Benrahma and Pablo Fornals both struck the underside of the crossbar with second-half efforts.
Forest thought they had scored a second through Brennan Johnson, which was chalked off for an offside, while the Irons were also awarded a penalty after a handball. Captain Declan Rice’s effort was, however, saved.
The clearest chance of the opening exchanges fell to the Hammers, with Michail Antonio winning a free-kick not far from goal. Aaron Cresswell took the resulting set-play, with his shot going narrowly over the crossbar.
Łukasz Fabiański was called into action twice in quick succession to deny the home side from half chances, before striker Awoniyi put a header just wide from a deep Neco Williams cross.
Benrahma had the chance to curl an effort towards goal, which Dean Henderson parried away, before Tomáš Souček saw a header go straight at the Forest goalkeeper form a corner.
As the first half drew to a conclusion, the action on the pitch turned frantic. Fabiański was forced to make a superb, close-range stop to deny Williams, with the Hammers going straight up the other end through Benrahma’s mazy run.
The Algerian thought he had given the Irons the lead after coolly finish one-on-one with Henderson, only for referee Robert Jones to rule the finish out after a look at VAR, judging that Antonio had committed a foul in the build-up.
Buoyed by the official’s decision, Forest went on the attack and found the lead two minutes into added time. Jesse Lingard’s first-time shot in the box was weak but Johnson’s lunging clearance bounced into Awoniyi, who poked into the net unchallenged and gave the home side a one-goal advantage at the interval.
The Irons came close to getting back to levelling the match just 25 seconds into the second half as Pablo Fornals struck a superb effort from distance, which rattled the woodwork. Souček was in the right place to follow up but, somehow, Henderson kept the midfielder’s header out.
Forest believed they had a second on 54 minutes when Brennan Johnson dinked a ball into the West Ham net but, as with the Hammers in the first half, referee Jones ruled the goal out for offside.
Benrahma got an opportunity from a free-kick on the hour mark and, much like Fornals 15 minutes prior, thought his strike had found the goal via the underside of the crossbar, only to see Henderson claim.
Moments later, the Irons had a penalty. Souček’s shot was ruled to have struck Scott McKenna's arm and up stepped captain Rice. His effort was low, and to the left, but Henderson was over to keep out the spot-kick and preserve Forest’s lead.
Forest's Williams then somehow stopped Kurt Zouma's header from a corner from crossing the line with a late clearance.
Manager David Moyes introduced Gianluca Scamacca and Manuel Lanzini from the bench, as well as new signing Maxwel Cornet for his West Ham United debut, but the trio were unable to help their side get on the scoresheet and claim a share of the spoils.
Nottingham Forest: Henderson, Worrall (c), Niakhate (Cook 79), McKenna, Williams, Mangala (Cafu 84), O’Brien, Toffolo, Lingard, Johnson, Awoniyi (Surridge 72)
Subs not used: Hennessey (GK), Biancone, Soh, Mighten, Taylor, Hammond
Goal: Awoniyi 45-2
Booked: McKenna, Henderson, Johnson, Surridge
West Ham United: Fabiański, Coufal, Johnson, Zouma, Cresswell, Rice (c), Souček, Bowen (Cornet 85), Fornals (Lanzini 68), Benrahma, Antonio (Scamacca 68)
Subs not used: Areola (GK), Randolph (GK), Ashby, Coventry, Downes
Referee: Robert Jones