Sean Dyche’s Burnley inflicted a third straight Premier League defeat on David Moyes’ West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon, but the main headline-makers were the home supporters for their despicable behaviour during the second period.
On the pitch, and after the home side had enjoyed the better of the play in the first-half, the Clarets got their first via Ashley Barnes, substitute Chris Wood at the double after him to wrap things up for the visitors.
However, much of the attention wasn’t in the match at this time, there were no fewer than three pitch invasion in the final 25 minutes, coupled with any protesters gathering and chanting at the Director’s Box in the concourses below.
The Hammers’ first home defeat of 2018 saw them fall worrying down two places to 16th position, a mere three points and two places above the bottom three, while the Lancashire outfit cosied up to Arsenal above them in sixth, remaining seventh position.
From the start in Stratford, home manager Moyes decided on five alterations to his starting Xl in the wake of his team’s 4-1 league thrashing by Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium last weekend.
There was a change in goal as Adrian San-Miguel was replaced by returning England man Joe Hart, elsewhere, youngster Declan Rice, Winston Reid, veteran Patrice Evra and striker Javier Hernandez were all ousted in favour of the duo of James Collins and Angelo Ogbonna coming back from injury, Michail Antonio and Inter Milan loanee Joao Mario.
Meanwhile, visiting boss Dyche felt no need to change anything when it came to picking his side from the PL beating of Everton at Turf Moor also last Saturday.
This saw match-winner last time out Chris Wood remain on the bench, while forward Ashley Barnes was sure to prove enough of a threat on it, so too Icelandic Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Three Lions hopeful Nick Pope between the sticks.
Right from the very off at the former Olympic Stadium, the hosts had the better of the play, resigning the visitors to the odd counter-attack and looking the most likely as the match progressed.
The early stages were somewhat interrupted by a severe injury to Hammers midfielder and Senegal captain Cheikhou Kouyate, but when he was passed OK to continue, chances started to flow at one end.
Joint top-scorer Marko Arnautovic was the man to miss the first from Moyes’ boys, working to get clean-through on the right side with Pope and only forcing him into a save with his legs from a tight angle.
Some more rear-guard action for the Clarets ensued and if Arnautovic was left bushing with his miss, so too was Portuguese international Mario, who couldn’t convert into a partially-empty net after Pope came for a comer and missed it.
Mario then felt he was denied being played through by Manuel Lanzini by a hand crucially Lee Mason didn’t, this allowed the away side to get forward several times around the half-hour mark.
However, the best they could muster up was a few threatening deliveries into the area that were dealt with, while at the opposite end, there would be one final opportunity before the break.
A speculative Collins long ball managed to play No10 Lanzini in behind the defence, with only a stern Pope to beat, he was denied by the shot-stopper’s legs once again misses they would be left to rue dearly.
There was little doubting that Moyes would have been the happier of the two managers at half-time, but his team had been wasteful and Dyche’s were preparing to punish them in the second period.
The start of the final 45 was much more even with an absent Burnley now posing a threat thigh this didn’t stop the East Londoners from creating more chances of their own.
Mario blasted an early shooting chance way over the bar before Arnautovic had his second clear sight of goal in the affair, being played over the top by Mark Noble after he had won play back in midfield.
The club-record signing shrugged off a defender or two to be faced with Pope yet again, this time, he looked to tee up Lanzini for a tap-in though the ball was blocked, and the chance was gone.
Less than 60 seconds later, Dyche’s men had the ball in the net up the opposite end with the linesman’s flag going up on the near side and replays showing that he was only inches off.
On 60 minutes, the Lancashire side introduced last weekend’s key man Wood, the New Zealander had already scored once against West Ham this season and was hungry for another replacing Jeff Hendrick.
This came moments after many supporters believed Ashley Westwood should have been given his marching orders for a challenge on Lanzini, replays showing it was hard to disagree with them.
Nevertheless, both teams stuck at it and one of them collected just reward on 66 minutes, on a day where home fans would have hoped 66 was only mentioned when remembering the late great Bobby Moore prior to kick-off.
Substitute Wood was played in down the right, beating Ogbonna all ends up and slipping a square ball to the feet of Barnes, setting himself and smashing the ball beyond Hart and into the very top corner.
The ruthless finish turned scenes inside London Stadium very ugly indeed, several supporters invaded the pitch, one of them tussling with club captain Noble and several others running on and off unopposed, this would be the first of a few encroachments.
As home fans continued to make their feeling towards their club’s board heard through chanting, back on the pitch, Burnley were able to double their advantage.
No prizes for guessing who scored this time as Wood, rather, fortunately, was in the right place at the right time to steer an Aaron Lennon scuffed shot home, wheeling away to celebrate with his joyous fans, who were on their way to a first away win of 2018.
The goal prompted a mob to form on the concourse below the Director’s Box to chant and throw coins up at it in ugly scenes, this was soon followed by more fans getting onto the pitch.
One of them brandished the corner flag and attempted to plant it in the centre-spot in a protest symbolic of the “Bond Scheme” demonstrations of the early 1990s.
The Irons looked for a way back into the contest as Mason stopped the match several times to speak to the managers about the ever-worsening situation in the stands.
But, the race had been well and truly run as confirmed by Wood once again inside the final ten minutes, making it three and two goals and an assist for himself off the bench.
Berg Gudmundsson’s low effort was spilled by Hart who endured a nightmarish afternoon, straight into the path of the former Leeds United man to convert with ease underneath him.
The strike well and truly wrapped up the points for the visitors, with the people at the helm of West Ham David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady all departing the Director’s Box to a tirade of abuse, leaving a lonely Sir Trevor Brooking in there.
As the protesters dispersed the magnitude of the result became apparent as the match drew to a quiet close, for the Clarets, last weekend’s first victory of the year was swiftly followed by their second to boost their European football hopes.
The Hammers have now not won in over a month and lost a home unbeaten record that had existed since before Christmas, falling back into a dangerous position, both on the field and off of it.
They will be thankful for a three-week break to find out the consequences if the off-pitch events and fly to Miami for some warm weather training, they will next be in action mid-way through March travelling to Dagenham & Redbridge in a fundraising friendly before welcoming Southampton to East London in the league.
Whereas, the Clarets will also now not feature until after this month’s International break, when they do return, they travel to face relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion.