UGLY: A West Ham fan takes to the field during the loss to Burnley
WEST HAM’S miserable form continued but their 3-0 defeat did not tell half the story as the club plunged further into crisis amid tumultuous scenes at the London Stadium.
Moments after Ashley Barnes gave Burnley the lead, West Ham captain Mark Noble tried to physically force one fan from the field.
Clarets substitute Chris Wood made it two moments after the restart and hundreds of irate home supporters breezed past the stewards into the area in front of the directors’ box. One of their most audible chants demanded that West Ham ‘sack the board’. Another fan took a corner flag and made a dash for the centre circle. All this just days after a pre-match protest had been cancelled.
By now the football was a side show and both managers were consulted by referee Lee Mason, who seemed to raise concerns over an abandonment. David Sullivan and David Gold, West Ham’s co-owners, were advised to depart early and the latter was hit by a thrown bottle outside the ground. It is inevitable that the Football Association will take punitive action towards the hosts.
As West Ham fans protested, the visitors allowed a number of younger supporters to shelter in their dugout. The saddest sight might have been West Ham luminary Sir Trevor Brooking sitting alone in the directors’ box.
Back on the field, Burnley would plunder a third goal in an environment that was about as noxious as any ever witnessed at a Premier League stadium.
Amid the chaos, a 14th defeat of the Premier League season has left David Moyes’ charges languishing just three points above the relegation zone.
After back-to-back 4-1 defeats on the road, there were shoots of promise in a first half where the West Ham offensive quartet of Marko Arnautovic, Joao Mario, Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini all shone and might have drawn more than one fine save from Nick Pope, who stuck out a leg to deny Lanzini. That instinctive intervention ensured it was goalless at the interval.
Burnley, who have now won two on the bounce, were obdurate in defence but had done little to test Joe Hart, on his first Premier League start since November, at the other end.
Sean Dyche’s side emerged re-energised in the second period, and though Barnes lamented an effort disallowed for offside, his riposte was to thump the opener beyond Hart moments later. Cue mutiny in the stands.
The visitors would then score from the restart. Johann Berg Gudmunsson contested the ball, which fell to Barnes and he moved it on to Aaron Lennon, who had the simple task of squaring the ball to Wood for a simple tap-in.
A further 11 minutes had elapsed when Hart spilled Gudmunsson’s shot and allowed Wood to claim his brace. But any further ignominy had little to do with the West Ham players.
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