It’s not pretty but West Ham grab three vital Premier League points
PUBLISHED: 21:51 14 December 2016 | UPDATED: 21:51 14 December 2016
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Hammers skipper Mark Noble scored the goal that gave West Ham the edge in a tight clash with Burnley
West Ham United 1 Burnley 0
West Ham United ended their six-game, win-less Premier League streak with a richly-deserved victory at the London Stadium, where Mark Noble’s third goal of the season gave Slaven Bilić’s boys all three points.
The Hammers skipper secured this welcome win with the last kick of the first-half, when he followed up to net the rebound after Tom Heaton had parried his stoppage-time penalty.
And while this result mirrors the same 1-0 score-lines as their two other home wins over Bournemouth and Sunderland, the East End simply did not care so long as the Hammers got the valuable victory that lifts them up the Premier League towards safety.
Sunday’s precious point at Anfield had lifted the Hammers out of the bottom three and, following that 2-2 draw against Liverpool, they made two changes as fit-again Cheikhou Kouyaté and Andy Carroll came in for substitutes Havard Nordtveit and Andre Ayew.
And after a minute’s applause in appreciation of the life of 1964 FA Cup-winning winger, Peter Brabrook, who had lost his cancer battle at the weekend, Carroll soon had the crowd clapping, too, when he sent an early header wide, while Dimitri Payet then saw his 25-yarder fielded by Heaton, before Manuel Lanzini blasted high over from similar range.
There had been nothing lucky about Burnley’s 3-2 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday that lifted them into 13th-spot and Sean Dyche made just one change, with Andre Gray replacing substitute Steven Defour in a Clarets contingent that had netted just once on their travels all season.
Sure enough, by the time another poignant 60 seconds applause for 12-year-old, kidney cancer victim, Jack Howard arrived with a dozen minutes on the clock, the visitors had still failed to threaten Darren Randolph as they spent the entire first-half simply chasing claret and blue shadows.
Carroll scooped another one over from range and Michael Keane escaped a vociferous cry for handball as England coach Gareth Southgate watched the Hammers dictate the show without making the Clarets pay the price for their acute lack of adventure.
Indeed, Randolph had been a mere spectator but, ironically, he was finally called into action on 32 minutes to field an over-hit upfield punt from his opposite No.1, Heaton, who was soon back between his own posts to save Michail Antonio’s awkward, low 20-yarder.
Ten minutes before the break, Pedro Obiang advanced forward and rocked the base of the left-hand post with a thunderous 18-yarder that skidded to safety, while Payet curled another effort high into the crowd, who were growing increasingly frustrated by the Hammers failure to capitalise on their dominance.
Aaron Cresswell and Payet were both blocked in the act of shooting and, right on half-time, the Frenchman’s deceptive short corner enabled Noble to curl a 20-yarder through the chilly East End night and onto the far post to leave the first-half looking destined to end in deadlock.
But two minutes into added time, Carroll climbed for one last header and, with Heaton only managing to glove the effort towards Winston Reid six yards out, the Kiwi was dragged down by Ben Mee to leave referee Bobby Madley with no option but to point to the spot.
And although Heaton guessed right to dive low to his left, Noble’s penalty simply had too much power for the twice-capped England keeper and the Hammers skipper followed up to lash the rebound into the net to give West Ham a long-overdue lead going into the interval.
Just after the restart, Sam Vokes finally threatened for Burnley but his innovative overhead hook drifted over Randolph’s right-hand angle and, shortly afterwards Scott Arfield’s free-kick was nodded into the danger-zone by Jeff Hendrick but Cresswell hurriedly hacked clear.
On the hour, Burnley should have levelled when Arfield’s angled shot was parried by Randolph but Vokes somehow contrived to head over the crossbar from all of three yards, before Mee was then booked for chopping Carroll.
After Ayew replaced Lanzini, Arfield drilled a low 25-yard free-kick through the Hammers wall but the orange-shirted, strong-armed, Randolph launched himself sideways to paw the goal-bound effort away with his outstretched left glove.
Hendrick was booked for a spiteful trip on the escaping Payet, before Ashley Barnes came on for George Boyd as the visitors desperately tried to find a route to goal, while Ashley Fletcher replaced Carroll, who left to appreciative applause following an industrious shift at both ends of the pitch but, by now, a workmanlike win was safely in the bag.
HAMMERS: Randolph, Reid, Ogbonna, Kouyaté, Antonio, Cresswell, Obiang, Noble (Nordtveit 88), Lanzini (Ayew 68), Payet, Carroll (Fletcher 82) Unused subs: Adrian, Fernandes, Quina, Browne.
CLARETS: Heaton, Lowton, Ward, Keane, Mee, Marney, Hendrick, Boyd (Barnes 76), Arfield (Bamford 90+4) Gray, Vokes. Unused subs: Robinson, Flanagan, Kightly, Defour, Tarkowski.
Booked: Mee (62), Hendrick (72)
Referee: Bobby Madley