Bournemouth 3-3 West Ham: Three talking points from the Vitality
A controversial injury-time goal from Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson denied West Ham United victory in a pulsating Boxing Day clash on the south coast. In atrocious conditions, six goals were shared between two sides struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table.
The Hammers had taken the lead through James Collins before Dan Gosling and Nathan Ake turned the game in favour of the hosts. But two errors from Cherries keeper Asmir Begovic gifted Marco Arnautovic a quick-fire brace, which looked certain to condemn Bournemouth to a third straight defeat.
However, there was a dramatic twist when referee Bobby Madley awarded the Cherries a goal despite his assistant having flagged for offside against Wilson, who also appeared to handle Ake’s header over the line. Here are three talking points…
Referee Madley takes centre stage
The farcical scenes that occurred at the death were a fitting finale to a match that had everything. Chasing a last-gasp equaliser, Ake nodded the ball past West Ham stopper Adrian, only to see the referee’s assistant raise his flag for offside against Wilson who had been lurking at the far post.
The question for referee Madley, as the two conferred, was whether Wilson, who had appeared to be marginally offside, had touched the ball. After a considerable deliberations, Madley awarded the goal, presumably having decided Wilson had not interfered. It was the wrong decision.
Ake’s header may well have sneaked in anyway, but the Bournemouth forward did touch the ball and the goal was credited to him. West Ham can rightly feel aggrieved, as it’s uncommon for a referee to overrule his assistant on an offside call. The decision-making process was flawed and Madley may expect to be given a weekend off.
Bournemouth show signs of improvement
Although the dramatic leveller was steeped in controversy, it should not detract from the fact that a point was the very least Bournemouth deserved. Manager Eddie Howe would have asked for a response following a difficult run of results – and his players delivered with one of their best performances of the season.
It was only wasteful finishing, particularly from Joshua King, that kept West Ham in contention as the Cherries peppered Adrian’s goal. Defeat would have been extremely harsh on Bournemouth and a major blow to their survival hopes, but Wilson’s equaliser gives them some encouragement ahead of Saturday’s home fixture with Everton.
The Cherries are still in the drop-zone but such is the tight nature of the league that they are only two points behind 14th-placed Southampton. Howe will have been delighted with the spirit and never-say-die attitude his troops displayed; less so with the individual errors that continue to plague them.
Defensive troubles undermine West Ham
David Moyes was left fuming with the nature of Bournemouth’s last-gasp equaliser but he will know his own side were fortunate to escape from the Vitality Stadium with a point, having been outplayed for the majority of the game. A valuable point it was too, following their surprise defeat at home to Newcastle United three days earlier.
Moyes’s appointment has had the impact the club’s under-fire owners desired, with the victory over Chelsea at the London Stadium a particular highlight. But the Scottish boss will know they are far from safe, with basement boys Swansea only five points adrift.
What will concern Moyes, who is renowned as an organiser of men, is that West Ham conceded three times for the second game running – and but for the heroics of his goalkeeper it could have been worse. Only one club have shipped more goals than the Hammers this season, so shoring up the defence will be uppermost in Moyes’ mind.