Carroll sent off for West Ham as Nolan double earns vital victory
PUBLISHED: 15:04 01 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:07 01 February 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
The Hammers earn three points but they come at a price as big striker is red-carded
West Ham United 2 Swansea City 0
West Ham United climbed out of the bottom three with this valuable victory over the sinking Swans at Upton Park, where Kevin Nolan’s deadly double proved the difference between these two sides.
The Hammers skipper struck twice before the break thanks to two telepathic assists from Andy Carroll, whose own afternoon turned sour on the hour, when he was harshly sent off following an innocuous aerial tangle with Oscar-nominee, Chico Flores.
But despite being reduced to 10 men, West Ham held out for their 11th clean sheet of the campaign.
Heartened by his side’s gritty goalless draw at Chelsea on Wednesday, Sam Allardyce made a couple of enforced changes as Matt Jarvis and George McCartney came in for the injured Mohamed Diame (knee) and Joey O’Brien (shoulder).
And it was Jarvis, who created the first chance of the afternoon with a clever, curling cross that Carroll headed over the top from 12 yards and, when the wily West Ham winger was fouled by Ben Davies a few minutes later, Mark Noble’s equally well-flighted free-kick was punched away by the groping Gerhard Tremmel.
Kicking off in 11th spot, Swansea had beaten Fulham in midweek but, despite that 2-0 victory, Michael Laudrup made a trio of changes as Jordi Amat, Nathan Dyer and Dwight Tiendalli came in for substitutes Pablo Hernandez, Angel Rangel and ex-Hammers starlet, Leon Britton.
Certainly, the Welshmen struggled to get into gear and when they did manage to get the ball anywhere near to the Hammers area, Wilfried Bony’s first touch had that local park player look about it.
Buoyed by their dogged draw at the Bridge, West Ham continued to take the initiative as James Tomkins failed to execute an audacious overhead kick under pressure from the Swans defence and unperturbed, he then blasted a 15-yarder high into the Bobby Moore Stand.
Only one team was going to break the deadlock and, sure enough, on 26 minutes West Ham deservedly took the lead with a goal that bore no resemblance whatsoever to the so-called 19th-Century football that the delusional Jose Mourinho had accused them of playing on Wednesday night.
Indeed, the Thames Ironworks of 1895 would have delighted in McCartney’s diagonally, arrowed left-wing cross towards the penalty spot, which was headed down by Carroll into the path of Nolan, who took one touch before despatching a no-nonsense, left-footed, 15-yard, half-volley into the bottom right-hand corner.
Having got one, the 21st-century Hammers went in search of a second as Stewart Downing fizzed a low right-wing centre across the face of goal.
After Noble had been booked for tugging back Bony, the Hammers then had a great escape as the Swans striker glided clear from halfway and, when the retreating Tomkins finally caught up with him on the 18-yard line, he appeared to get more of the Ivory Coast international than the ball but, fortunately for the West Ham, there was neither red card nor penalty and Big Sam’s side survived.
At the other end, Carroll tried his luck from range and in first-half stoppage time, the Big Man’s tenacity earned him a corner that he had no right to win. Downing floated over the consequent flag kick to the far post, where the England striker headed back into the six-yard box and, once again, best pal Nolan, was both unmarked and on hand to send a downward header into the net for his fourth goal of the campaign.
Having doubled their lead just before the interval, the Hammers almost trebled it just after the restart, when Jarvis rounded Tremmel but his attempted ball into the goalmouth was hastily scrambled clear by Ben Davies.
On 54 minutes, the visitors finally forced their first corner of the afternoon, when Matt Taylor bravely blocked Jonjo Shelvey’s scorcher before recovering to deflect Jonathan De Guzman’s follow-up aside.
It was all going so well for West Ham but, as the hour-mark approached, disaster struck when - in a battle of the pony-tails - Carroll and Flores rose for a high ball on the halfway line and as they disentangled, the twisting Hammer’s flailing wrist accidentally caught the Spaniard on the top of his head.
But with the dying Swan rolling around holding his face, World Cup final referee Howard Webb fell for the theatricals and when he sees television replays his face will surely be as red as the card that he brandished to the inconsolable Carroll.
Carlton Cole was brought on to provide an outlet for the inevitable Swansea pressure that was turned up with the arrivals of Alejandro Pozuelo, Hernandez and David Ngog, while Winston Reid also made a welcome return to replace the tireless Taylor.
But despite forcing a string of corners, Swansea were just not good enough to make that numerical advantage count and, when the ball did fall kindly for Bony eight yards out, he merely deposited it high into the West Ham fans.
And knowing that the Hammers had climbed the table to within just two points of his side, the feigning Flores returned to Wales with chants of: “Chico, Chico, what’s the score?” ringing in his ears from the relieved claret and blue supporters amongst the lunchtime crowd of 31,848.
HAMMERS: Adrian, Demel, McCartney,Collins, Tomkins, Downing, Jarvis (C. Cole 65), Noble, Taylor (Reid 77), Nolan (Nocerino 86), Carroll. Unused subs: Jaaskelainen, Reid, Morrison, Johnson, Borriello.
SWANS: Tremmel, Davies, Tiendalli, Flores, Williams, Shelvey, (Hernandez 70), De Guzman, Amat (Pozuelo 63), Dyer (N’Gog 77), Routledge, Bony. Unused subs: Cornell, Britton, Lamah, Rangel.
Booked: Noble (33). Sent-Off: Carroll (59)
Referee: Howard Webb (Sheffield)