Reality of Brentford's relegation battle becomes clear in demoralising defeat to West Ham

Reality of Brentford's relegation battle becomes clear in demoralising defeat to West Ham

Brentford were left to contemplate the upcoming battle for their Premier League survival after a difficult day in which the number four became their worst enemy.

The news before kick-off that Everton had been returned four of the ten points deducted earlier in the season, after appealing their punishment for breaching financial rules, led to the grim irony that precisely four minutes and four seconds were on the clock as Brentford conceded the opener of what proved to be a 4-2 defeat at West Ham.

Lucas Paqueta escaped Keane Lewis-Potter down the Bees’ right and a slick move resulted in Jarrod Bowen drilling past Mark Flekken at the near post.

If the goalkeeper could have done better with West Ham’s first, he was abandoned and helpless for the second. The Bees lost possession by the halfway line and Vladimir Coufal galloped down the right to tee up the unmarked Bowen to notch his second inside the first seven minutes.

The visitors formed an impromptu team meeting on the London Stadium turf and pulled together a degree of resolve, earning a route back into the game with its third goal of the opening 13 minutes. Lewis-Potter spotted Neal Maupay’s run off his marker expertly and a high finish beat Alphonse Areola.

With the game back on for the Bees, there was still little in the way of attacking adventure to frighten a nervous home support that was suddenly there to be got at.

Little changed in the second half bar Lewis-Potter’s dangerous escapades down the right flank, but Brentford still lacked a final ball to test the goalkeeper.

The game was then decided for good with a six-minute burst, starting with Bowen once again appearing unmarked to head home Mohammed Kudus’ cross for his hat-trick on 63 minutes.

Frank Onyeka very nearly put the visitors back within a goal instantly, but for Alphonse Areola’s sharp stop at the near post, and the pendulum finally swung towards West Ham for good when Emerson Palmieri drilled home a sensational fourth from 25 yards out.

Yoane Wissa struck a late consolation but the defeat leaves Brentford peering over their shoulder at a five-point gap to the relegation zone, with a difficult fixture list containing the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Aston Villa in their near future - and 10 league defeats in their last 12 games.