Filed: Sunday, 11th November 2012
By: Staff Writer
Captain fantastic Kevin Nolan was on hand once again to score the only goal of the game as West Ham secured their first win at St James' Park this century.
Over the years St James' Park has rarely been a happy hunting ground for West Ham; prior to today it had been 14 years since United recorded a victory in Newcastle - a day when goals from Ian Wright (2) and Trevor Sinclair gave the Hammers a 3-0 win.
But Sam Allardyce's 2012 squad repeated that feat with a performance that whilst perhaps lacking in quality could not be criticised for a lack of commitment.
Today's win - a victory that came as a result of Nolan's 38th-minute close-range effort - was the fifth time already this season that West Ham had kept a clean sheet.
And this game - combined with the goalless draw against reigning champions Manchester City last weekend - made a mockery of the suggestion that United's frailties would be exposed by the division's stronger teams.
Whilst the team's confidence has clearly been given a major boost by early wins against teams perceived to be the weaker amongst the Premier League elite, there is no doubt that Sam Allardyce, pilloried unfairly by some sections of the media this season is getting the very best out of his players.
Today's back four was the same as that which often lined up in the Championship last season - yet George McCartney, Joey O'Brien, James Tomkins and Winstofn Reid looked just as comfortable against Newcastle today as they had against the likes of Doncaster and Millwall last term.
Today's win was especially sweet for manager Allardyce, who having masterminded West Ham's instant return to the top flight in his first year at the Boleyn Ground claimed all three points from a club who fired him after just seven months in charge back in 2008.
And former Geordie favourite Andy Carroll - who whilst still yet to score for the Hammers produced another effective performance - will no doubt be wearing a wry smile tonight after returning home to London victorious after being booed all afternoon.
However it was left to another former Newcastle employee to score the goal that secured the win for West Ham, who now rise to sixth in the league as a result of today's win.
Having produced a solid first half performance in which they stymied Newcastle's attacking notions by defending high up the pitch a counter attack gave Joey O'Brien - who is yet to finish on the losing side in a West Ham shirt this season - the opportunity to fire at goal.
The full-back dragged his effort wide of its intended target but Nolan, exhibiting that uncanny knack of accurately predicting where the ball would land stuck out a foot at the far post to divert the ball into an empty net.
Newcastle's protestations of offside were (correctly) ignored by official Mike Dean who, thankfully, had little impact on the game.
After the break the home side were far more adventurous, but had the returning Carroll taken his chance when put through by his skipper with only goalkeeper Tim Krul to beat West Ham may have been able to face the last fifteen minutes with rather less anxiety than was eventually the case.
But with Jussi Jaaskelainen rolling back the years with a string of important saves there was to be no way through for the home side - even if former Hammer Demba Ba may have had a case when his header appeared to be clawed back from behind the line by the Finnish stopper right at the start of the second half.
Just as every silver lining has a cloud, so it was the case again today when Allardyce saw three more players potentially added to his lengthening injury list. Matt Jarvis (hip), Yossi Benayoun (knee) and George McCartney (groin) all sustained injuries of varying degrees and were forced off the field.
However that will be a concern for another day; today will be enjoyed equally by the players, the club's staff and especially the travelling supporters who faced a 300-mile return journey to London safe in the knowledge that today's win had seen them leapfrog Fulham, Arsenal and Tottenham in the Barclay's Premier League.
Match Facts: Newcastle United 0-1 West Ham United
West Ham United: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Joey O'Brien, Winston Reid, James Tomkins, George McCartney (Guy Demel 66), Yossi Benayoun (Gary O'Neil 52), Mohamed Diame, Mark Noble, Matthew Jarvis (Modibo Maiga 34), Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll.
Subs not used: Raphael Spiegel, Carlton Cole, James Collins, Robert Hall.
Goals: Kevin Nolan (38).
Booked: Mark Noble (45), Joey O'Brien (61).
Shots on/off target: 10 - 5/5.
Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson (Gabriel Obertan 79), Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson, Davide Santon, Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez (Vurnon Anita 24), Shane Ferguson, Papiss Cisse (Shola Ameobi 46), Demba Ba.
Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Sylvain Marveaux, Romain Amalfitano, Gael Bigirimana.
Booked: Hatem Ben Arfa (76).
Shots on/off target: 14 - 9/5.
Referee: Mike Dean .
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