|Are we Scunthorpe in disguise?|
The Hammers upped the intensity for the second half but Astra keeper Silviu Lung was in fine form and pulled off a series of excellent saves in what was to end in an embarrassing defeat for the Olympic Stadium tenants.
In truth, many fans will be quietly pleased that West Ham now avoid a season of tiring midweek fixtures as recent injuries have highlighted the limitations of the squad depth. Moreover, any match where SuperSlav rests Captain Claret is clearly not of the highest priority. No doubt Dimitri Payet will also be available at the weekend and how west Ham missed his invention last night.
West Ham again seemed to lack purpose or a coherent game plan and are still playing like a team of individuals, but there were some positives. Ashley Fletcher looked very lively indeed during his 35 minutes of action and was desperately unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the 70th minute before being denied the equaliser three minutes later as he sneaked into the six yard box to deflect an Ogbonna strike towards the net before Lung pulled off an amazing reflex save. Soon after, Fletcher earned a Payet-perfect free kick which Enner Valencia send goal bound only to be denied by the invincible Lung.
Thereafter, the frustration set in and it was a merciful release when the referee ended proceedings and West Ham avoided extra time!
SuperSlav was clearly annoyed at the result but one suspects that was partly for the cameras. Your-Ropey League is a dull and tepid excuse for European football and few Premiership sides have really benefitted from participation in the past (remember Fulham!). It's onwards and upwards with Man City at the weekend. Well done Astra - a much better showing than your 5-0 defeat last weekend in the Romanian League!!! having dumped us out of the Europa League for two season's running you are now well and truly West Ham's bogey team.
P.S. No disrespect intended to Scunthorpe United.