West Ham beat Cardiff with 10-men as Carroll returns
18:00 11 January 2014
Premier League: Cardiff City 0 West Ham United 2
Crisis? What crisis?
After a woeful week of torment, the Hammers got back to winning ways in Wales, where goals by Carlton Cole and Mark Noble gave West Ham United their first victory in eight games.
That lifts Sam Allardyce’s side out of the dreaded drop-zone and, after trecking 1,050 miles inside seven days, the travelling supporters were richly rewarded by the sight of Cole giving their side an interval lead before skipper Noble sealed victory in stoppage time.
And although the afternoon was slightly tempered by the sight of James Tomkins being sent off and Guy Demel finding himself stretchered off, the late arrival of substitute Andy Carroll for his first outing of the season finally brought renewed optimism for Big Sam.
Both sides had experienced differing fortunes during the past week with Cardiff City marking Ole Gunnar Solskjear’s first game in charge with an FA Cup victory at Newcastle United, while the Hammers suffered crushing cup defeats at Nottingham Forest and Manchester City that saw them concede 11 goals without reply.
But following an excruciating evening at the Etihad on Wednesday, Allardyce faithfully stuck by shell-shocked keeper Adrian as he made five changes with Cole, Matt Jarvis, Jack Collison, James Tomkins and Razvan Rat coming in for the injured Joey O’Brien plus substitutes Modibo Maiga, Joe Cole, Mohamed Diame and George McCartney.
Despite kicking off in 19th spot, two places and three points below the Red Dragons, the Hammers certainly started in positive fashion and with just four minutes on the clock, Stewart Downing mopped up his half-cleared corner and whipped over a right-wing cross that eluded everyone in the area before hitting the post.
And although Tomkins was first on the scene, David Marshall threw himself at the defender’s angled, side-footer to beat away the point blank effort.
Following his side’s FA Cup win at St James’s Park last weekend, Solksjaer made five changes of his own as Steven Caulker, Gary Medel, Kevin Theophile-Catherine Craig Noone and Frazier Campbell each returned for the manager’s first home game in charge.
Indeed, Campbell almost got the Norwegian off to a dream start of his own, when he got between Demel and Roger Johnson but his flying boot just could not make contact with the ball as it flashed across goal.
The Hammers may have survived that early attack but it came at a price, for as Demel had gone in pursuit of the aerial cross, he collided with Johnson and fell awkwardly onto his elbow and, following ten minutes of intensive treatment, the Ivory Coast defender was stretchered away to be replaced by George McCartney on the quarter-hour mark.
Within three minutes of his arrival, however, the West Ham substitute was in the wars himself taking a nasty head first tumble alongside the climbing Campbell but, fortunately, he was able to continue.
Midway through the half, the probing Peter Odemwingie invited the unmarked Noone to let fly from 12 yards but, having shaken off the effects of that fall, McCartney bravely threw himself at the shot to deflect the ball wide.
On the half-hour, West Ham had an even closer escape when the barnstorming Bo-Kyung Kim raced deep into visiting territory before unleashing a 20-yarder that crashed down off the crossbar and, with goal-line technology rescuing the Hammers, referee Lee Mason then came to their aid, ruling that the supporting Campbell had bundled Adrian into the net in his attempt to force home the opener.
Adrian also saved low from Noone while, at the other end, Cole just could not outwit Caulker, who defiantly stood his ground to block the striker’s close-range shot.
But Cole soon shrugged off that disappointment and, on 41 minutes, he gave the Hammers an interval lead, when he got in front of Theophile-Catherine to drill home from eight yards after Matt Taylor clever unlocked the door for Jarvis to tee up a low cross from the right hand side of the area.
Solskjaer introduced ex-Hammer Craig Bellamy for the restart and, after McCartney followed the dissenting Medel into the book for felling Noone, the fiery forward almost made his presence felt when he picked out Campbell but the agile Adrian brilliantly palmed the rasping shot high into the Cardiff sky.
Although Jarvis twice tried to double the lead with low 20-yarders, it was the Red Dragons who were breathing the fire as Adrian thwarted Peter Whittingham, while the consequently cautioned Tomkins used less legal means to stop Campbell.
Johnson was also booked for felling Campbell and that saw Bellamy send the subsequent free-kick over the Hammers wall and just an inch or so past the base of the left-hand post.
With 20 minutes remaining, Carroll stepped from the bench to make his long-awaited return to first-team action but having just marked his arrival with rapturous applause, the travelling East Enders were then forced to witness the departure of Tomkins for a second offence on Campbell.
This time, the Hammers defender raised his boot into the face of the Cardiff striker and while there was no malice intended, referee Mason decided the foot was too high and Tomkins saw yellow again to leave Big Sam sweating out the final 17 minutes with ten men.
But the depleted Hammers held firm as Adrian defiantly repelled the Welsh threat to claim a richly-deserved clean sheet and, in stoppage time, Carroll cleverly invited the supporting Noble to drill a low, 15-yard shot under Marshall.
RED DRAGONS: Marshall, Theophile-Catherine, John, Caulker, Hudson (Cornelius 78), Medel (Eikrem 65), Kim, Whittingham, Noone, Odemwingie (Bellamy h/t), Campbell. Unused subs: Lewis, Turner, Gunnarsson, McNaughton.
HAMMERS: Adrian, Demel (McCartney 17), Rat, Tomkins, Johnson, Downing, Jarvis, Noble, Collison (Diarra 75), Taylor, C.Cole (Carroll 71). Unused subs: Jaaskelainen, Maiga, Diame, J.Cole.
Bookings: Medel (45+9), McCartney (49), Tomkins (61), Johnson (70), Diarra (90).
Sent-Off: Tomkins (73)
Referee: Lee Mason