Carroll’s the West Ham hero as Swansea City are beaten
17:24 02 February 2013
West Ham United 1 Swansea City 0
Without a victory since New Year’s Day, West Ham United finally got back to winning ways at a sold-out Upton Park, where Andy Carroll’s 77th-minute header finally sunk the Swans.
Up until then, it had been a frustrating afternoon for Big Sam’s side, who had seen Swansea keeper Gerhard Tremmel trump every card that they played but, in the end, the towering England striker’s second goal for the club ensured that, with 30 points on the board, they will not spend another worrying weekend looking over their shoulders at the lower reaches of the Premier League table.
Having suffered back-to-back derby defeats at Arsenal and Fulham, Sam Allardyce made a trio of changes from the side that had lost at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night as Carroll, Matt Taylor and Ricardo Vaz Te came in for Guy Demel plus substitutes Marouane Chamakh and Joe Cole.
And within just four minutes, Carroll was making his presence felt with a clever nod-back that saw a 15-yarder from supporting skipper Kevin Nolan deflected wide for a corner that Tremmel acrobatically punched clear from his goalmouth.
Unbeaten in their last seven Premier League outings, Swansea confidently kicked off in eighth-spot, six places and seven points ahead of the Hammers and following his side’s goalless draw at Sunderland on Tuesday evening, Michael Laudrup also made three switches as Angel Rangel, Ki Sung-Yueng and Wayne Routledge replaced Nathan Dyer, Itay Shechter and Dwight Tiendalli, who each dropped to the bench.
Certainly, it was a painful recall for Routledge, who was soon chopped on the halfway line by the consequently cautioned Vaz Te, whose messy challenge was indicative of a scrappy opening that also saw Mark Noble fire high over from range.
On the quarter-hour mark, Jonathan De Guzman was also off target with a curling free-kick but, at the other end, Carroll’s strength carved out a second opening for the Hammers but this time Mohamed Diame – still wearing a claret and blue shirt following all that transfer window uncertainty – saw his low 20-yarder gathered at the second attempt by Tremmel.
Shortly afterwards, Nolan got in front of Chico Flores at the near post, but just when he looked set to sweep home right-back Joey O’Brien’s low cross into the six-yard box, the Swansea ‘keeper blocked the close-range shot with his knees.
Carroll also let fly in the Swansea area, but his scorching shot was blocked by Sung-Yueng and as play broke upfield into the Hammers half, there was a surreal moment, when the dribbling Jussi Jaaskelainen found himself hemmed in on the corner flag by Michu, who finally forced a throw-in.
Pablo Hernandez then weaved his way into the West Ham penalty area, where Taylor headed clear and Jaaskelainen then found himself diving into the studs of the overlapping Ben Davies as Swansea – while still not finding their perfect passing patterns - finally started to threaten.
Ten minutes before the break, Nolan again thought that he had broken the deadlock, when the deep-lying Carroll nodded towards the penalty spot but this time Tremmel thwarted the crest-fallen captain with a full-length save and, right on half-time, the Swansea keeper clawed away Vaz Te’s thundering 20-yarder to keep it goalless at the break.
Just after the restart, Vaz Te was again foiled by Tremmel after he rode ex-Hammer Leon Britton’s challenge before unleashing a bobbly 20-yarder that the keeper smothered at the second time of asking.
Nolan’s sublime back-heel then allowed the overlapping Matt Jarvis to pick out Carroll with a low left-wing cut-back but the unmarked England striker wastefully fired over the angle from 12 yards to the frustration of the home fans amongst the sell-out crowd of 34,962, who were getting colder and more concerned by the minute at the sight of all these missed chances.
As the hour mark approached, Jaaskelainen finally got his gloves dirty, when he beat aside a 20-yard free-kick that Hernandez drilled through the West Ham wall and then Michu blazed high over from a tight angle before then heading another effort just inches over the crossbar.
By now, the unlucky Jarvis had been replaced by Joe Cole and it was Vaz Te, who should have changed the course of the game when he was played in by Nolan but Davies robbed him on the edge of the six-yard box just as the Hammers wide boy looked all set to pull the trigger.
Midway through the half, Carroll invited Diame to stroll onto his nod-down but, yet again, West Ham failed to make it count as the Senegal midfielder mis-fired and the ball flew higher and higher into the Bobby Moore Stand.
Carroll then saw his low, angled effort cannon off Tremmel’s heel and, when the loose ball was worked back out to Vaz Te, the falling Diame contrived to send the resultant cross over the top from eight yards.
An unpunished Chico also charged the ball down with his elbow to the annoyance of everyone claret and blue but when Joe Cole forced a corner with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining West Ham finally got the goal that they had been searching for all afternoon.
Noble swung the flag kick into the six-yard box, where Carroll climbed high above Ashley Williams to plant a powerful header into the net and give the home fans something to cheer at long last.
Although Jaaskelainen had to pull off a double-stop to thwart long-rangers from Sung-Yueng and Hernandez and the Hammers also had to survive two frantic, late goalmouth scrambles, in the end this Carroll-inspired win was nothing less than they deserved.
HAMMERS: Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, Taylor, Tomkins, Reid, Noble, Nolan (Pogatetz 90+2) Diame (O’Neil 86), Vaz Te, Jarvis (J. Cole 62), Carroll. Unused Subs: Spiegel, C.Cole, Collison, Pogatez, Chamakh.
SWANS: Tremmel, Rangel, Sung-Yeung, Chico Flores, Williams, Davies, Britton (Moore 57) De Guzman, Hernandez, Routledge (Dyer 75), Michu. Unused Subs: Cornell, Lamah, Monk, Shechter, Tiendalli.
Bookings: Vaz Te (8), Flores (90+1).
Referee: Lee Probert