Sunday 13 October 2019

Rice adds to burgeoning reputation

West Ham 2 Newcastle United 0

Newcastle's Fabian Schar battles for possession with West Ham's Felipe Anderson. Photo: Getty Images
Newcastle's Fabian Schar battles for possession with West Ham's Felipe Anderson. Photo: Getty Images

West Ham's supporters came in homage to Billy Bonds, around 20,000 of them taking their seats in the stand that was named after him in a stirring ceremony before kick-off. They left basking in the most routine of victories and enjoying an apposite reminder that their club still produces heroes through the generations.

Declan Rice set them on their way against a dreary Newcastle with a header that Bonds would have admired, and embellished his soaring reputation throughout. Mark Noble, a captain who strives to mould himself in Bonds' image, added a penalty and it capped a game that, for one day at least, captured West Ham's past and present in perfect harmony.

West Ham's Mark Noble celebrates scoring his side's second goal. Photo: Getty Images
West Ham's Mark Noble celebrates scoring his side's second goal. Photo: Getty Images

Before the players emerged a visibly emotional Bonds had made his entrance to a rapturous reception, 25 former team-mates creating a guard of honour. The club he represented for a quarter of a century had put on some show to mark the occasion and, as he crossed the surface to cut the ribbon on the stand that now bears his name, the sense of affection was genuinely uplifting.

Rice maintained the swell of good feeling. After losing Fabian Schär a little too easily in a crowded penalty area, he rose to thud Robert Snodgrass's seventh-minute corner past Martin Dubravka.

It rewarded an open start in which Newcastle showed intent too, but they failed to land a blow during the rest of an occasionally bruising half, and a series of stoppages - the lengthiest for a bloody clash of heads between Javier Manquillo and Aaron Cresswell that required heavy bandaging for the former - did little for the game's flow.

Cresswell departed later with a seemingly unrelated problem but West Ham went unchecked. Seven minutes before the interval an overzealous challenge from Newcastle's own midfield tyro, Sean Longstaff, on Snodgrass brought a free-kick that found Javier Hernández beyond the far post. He was clumsily clipped by Fabian Lejeune as he manoeuvred towards the byline; it was indisputably a spot-kick and Noble converted emphatically.

West Ham United fans create a display for Billy Bonds. Photo: Getty Images
West Ham United fans create a display for Billy Bonds. Photo: Getty Images

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