First game of the season for the Mags and Bruce has kept the formation of 5-3-2 from the back end of last season with a Premier League debut awarded young Freddie Woodman. Sat in front of Woodman was the back five of Murphy, Krafth, Fernandez, Clark and Ritchie. Hayden, Shelvey and Almiron play in the centre with the new number nine Calum Wilson in a forward role alongside Saint-Maximin.
Two minutes into the game and West Ham won a corner, Creswell drilled the ball into the box which found Dawson, who headed the ball onto the foot of Soucek, whose touch guided the ball towards goal but Almiron was there to save Newcastle from conceding an early goal.
Three minutes later the Toon got up the field with Saint-Maximin. Dancing on the wing Maxi delivered the ball into the box to find the head of Wilson who nodded the ball to break the deadlock. 1-0.
In the 8th minute, Antonio had an effort on the edge of the area in an attempt to get the equaliser but the ball went wide of the mark. Newcastle held the lead.
Two minutes later Hayden was played through into the box and was brought down by Dawson but the referee didn't see enough to award the penalty.
There was some confusion on the 18th minute as the ball found the back of the net in Woodman's goal as Cresswell's delivery appeared to have been touched in by Soucek who was in an offside position. VAR reviewed the play and awarded the goal to Cresswell for the equalizer as Soucek made contact with the ball after it had crossed the line. 1-1.
In the 23rd minute. Jared Bowen found his way into the box, with only Woodman to beat Bowen had his effort denied by a smart stop from the debutant keeper. Newcastle held on thanks to Woodman.
ASM picked up the ball from the save by Woodman. Charging ahead, Saint-Maximin picked out Shelvey who chipped in a good ball for Wilson whose touch let him down. Undeterred Wilson pulled off an audacious backheel to get the shot away but it wasn't enough to beat Fabianski who got down well to stop the shot.
Saint-Maximin was up for this game early on in the first half, in the 26th minute Maxi drew in the defence and played the ball into Almiron who saw his curling effort agonisingly hit the post as the Mags looked to recoup the lead.
In the 33rd minute Ritchie had a corner which found the head of Ciaran Clark but his head wasn't on target as the ball sailed over the bar. It has been a good first half but United need to be more clinical in front of goal.
On the 41st minute the Mags restored the lead with Almiron playing the ball to Ritchie on the left side. Ritchie curled in a cross towards the penalty spot and up went Murphy to meet the ball and get the cleanest of headers to not the ball home. 2-1.
Just before halftime on the 43rd minute Benrahma picked up the ball on the edge of the area and took the shot on but his curling effort on his right foot went wide of the goal. Half time 2-1.
Newcastle got the second half underway, and sought to keep possession and see out the game early on. However in the 53rd minute Weat Ham had other ideas when Rice dispossesed Saint-Maximin and played the ball to Bowen who slotted in Antonio on the wing. Antonio crossed the ball into the box to find the head of Benrahma who achieved the Hammers second equalizer of the game. 2-2.
Newcastle's dangerman Allan Saint-Maximin looked to restore the lead for the third time using his magic feet to beat Dawson and cross the ball into the middle but Fabianski got his fingertips to the ball, getting enough on it for the defence to clear the ball away.
On the 57th minute Saint-Maximin once again made the trip to St James Park worth while for the Magpies faithful as he put on a show to beat the defence on the left side to cross the ball into the box, but this time he put too much on the ball as it goes over everybody's head.
More controversy in the 62nd minute as the ball hits the post from the head of Antonio. The ball rebounds out to Murphy whose touch was heavy but the wing-back appears to recover well, going to ground to win the ball, but as he makes contact with the ball, he cought the leg of Fornals bringing the midfielder down in the area. VAR took a quick look at the challenge and gave the penalty. Antonio took the penalty which was saved by Woodman. But the young shot stopper partied the ball into the path of the Hammers top goalscorer of last season Soucek to get his first of this campaign. Mightly unlucky for Woodman who im sure has a bright future ahead of him. 3-2 West Ham.
Just past the hour mark of the 66th minute and things went from bad to worse for the Mags as Antonio picks up the ball deep into the Newcastle half. Playing the ball forward to Benrahma, Antonio broke his neck to get forward for the one-two to get into the box. In on goal Antonio blasted the ball past Woodman to effectively kill the game off. The Magpies had a mountain to climb. 4-2.
Seventy four minutes in and each team had a player down with Saint-Maximin and Rice hitting the deck as Rice's challenge backfired as he injured ASM and himself in the process. Thankfully for them both, they appeared to make a full recovery and stayed on the pitch.
Five minutes of normal time to go, Steve Bruce rolled the dice with some strange substitutions taking Wilson off for Joelinton and Krafth off for Sean Longstaff. Not changing the system, Hayden slotted into the back three while Longtaff took Hayden's role as Joelinton became a like-for-like swap in place of the number nine Wilson.
One more chance would fall to the Mags as the ball was played into the area, headed away by the Hammers the ball fell kindly to Ritchie who struck a sweetly hit volley which was blocked by the defence. With four minutes of added time to go, Newcastle could not find a way through as the referee called time on the game. Full Time: Newcastle United 2-4 West Ham United.
A very good first half for Newcastle turned into a nightmare of a second half as the Magpies appeared to either lose their stamina, or lose their will to win the game. Two late uninspired substitutions didn't help the situation as The Toon bottled the first game back and the first competitive match with a full stadium. Hopefully Willock can inspire the team to play for the full ninety minutes next Saturday away at Villa Park in which I'll be attending my first ever away Premier League game in the away end. Last away game I attended I was in the home section at Old Trafford sat with the Manchester United fans on boxing day. Do not let me down boys.
By Sam West.