West Bromwich Albion 1 West Ham United 2
Tuesday, 2nd December 2014
by Staff Writer
It wasn't pretty and the purists won't be happy - but another three priceless points keep Big Sam's happy Hammers in the hunt for Europe.A triumph for substance over style for the second time in 72 hours saw West Ham surge back towards the top of the table as goals from Kevin Nolan and James Tomkins countered Craig Dawson's early opener.
Just three points behind second-placed Manchester City, it has been West Ham's best start to a Premier League season - and never before have the Irons enjoyed a +6 goal difference at this stage of the campaign.
That they do can be attributed to a steely resolve the club had perhaps lacked during its entire history prior to Sam Allarydce's arrival in east London some three-and-a-half years ago.
In the end it was two set pieces that did for a Baggies side already bereft of confidence. But West Ham's best work was done at the other end of the field, where goalkeeper Adrian stood firm when called upon whilst his defence threw themselves into last-ditch challenges with scant regard for personal safety in order to deny wave after wave of Albion attacks.
West Brom, backed by a boisterous Hawthorns crowd threw everything including the kitchen sink at West Ham in a frantic opening ten minutes and got their reward from the most simple of set pieces. Graham Dorrans, a former Hammers target swung in a free kick and Dawson nodded home, unopposed to give Alan Irvine's side a dream start.
It was the kick start Allardyce's side needed and a reply eventually came seven minutes ahead of the break. This time it was West Ham to profit from a set piece when Kevin Nolan, restored to the starting line-up in the centre of midfield nodded home from close range after Andy Carroll's acrobatic free kick had been cleared off the line.
Yet the Hammers were not done; with a minimum of two minutes additional time indicated by the fourth official - and 47:20 on the clock - James Tomkins rose to meet a Stewart Downing corner to send West Ham into the break with a goal advantage.
Tomkins' goal was to be the last shot West Ham were to have in the game, whereas Albion created 11 shots at goal in the second period without really testing Adrian - until five minutes from time, when the Spanish stopper made an instinctive save with his feet from Victor Anichebe from point-blank range.
By that stage Albion's best chance of the game had come and gone when Dawson found himself with a free shot at goal earlier on in the half. Faced with virtually the entire goal to aim at, the defender dragged his shot wide of the post from just eight yards; with it went the Baggies' hopes.
The win lifts West Ham back into fifth place in the Premier League and above Swansea, who provide the opposition for West Ham's next league fixture this weekend in what promises to be a truly intriguing battle between two teams enjoying unexpectedly positive seasons.
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Player RatingsAdrian San Miguel del Castillo
A couple of scary moments as per dealing with aerial deliveries, but he redeemed himself with a stunning reflex save at his near post then another at the death.
Had a difficult night and was often left chasing shadows, particularly in the first half.
Saturday's hero had little opportunity to repeat his expliots against Newcastle but did well generally, making several inportant blocks and interceptions.
Back in the side at the expense of James Collins, Reid was a key component in shutting Albion out. The Kiwi orchestrated the defence and like his team mates, was often in the right place at the right time to make a timely intervention.
Man of the Match for some against Newcastle, this ws another solid performance from Tomkins. The goal - his first for some considerable time - was the icing on the cake.
Cast in the role occupied more recently by Alex Song and Mark Noble, the captain workwed like a trojan assisting at both ends of the field. Although he may not provide the cutting edge he was once so highly regarded for, his organisation of the team gives added assurance. His goal? Typical Nolan, popping up in the right place at the right time.
Like Nolan, Chiek worked tirelessly in midfield to deny Albion space and create openings for his own team. Whilst not quite as effective as in the first few weeks of the season, he is pretty much back to full fitness - a major boost ahead of the busy Christmas period.
A former favourite here at the Hawthorns, the tricky winger put in a good shift although found his contribution waning as the game wore on.
His quietest game for a while, but he'll be happy with the assist that led to James Tomkins' winning goal.
Tough away games at places like The Hawthorns probably aren't the best to judge the Argentine's overall contribution to the team by.
Still clearly not 100 per cent but always willing to bust a gut for the team. His substitution just after the hour mark was well timed.
(Replaced Amalfitano) Slotted in at the back to do what James Collins does best - throw himself in front of everything that comes his way. For the role he was asked to perform tonight, there is nobody better.
(Replaced Carroll) A good run-out in what was his first game back from injury. Enner made little impact on the game but his pace and movement offered Albion a different problem to deal with.
(Replaced Zarate) Made himself busy for the 16 minutes he was on the field for and offered us extra height at the back to defend set pieces.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, James Tomkins, Kevin Nolan, Cheikhou Kouyate, Morgan Amalfitano, Stewart Downing, Mauro Zarate, Andy Carroll.
Goals: Kevin Nolan 35 James Tomkins 45 .
Booked: James Tomkins 18 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
West Bromwich Albion: .
Subs not used: .
Sent off: None.
Referee: Mike Jones.
Man of the Match: Kevin Nolan.