West Ham bid Big Sam goodbye
17:05 24 May 2015
2015 Getty Images
Premier League: Newcastle 2 West Ham 0
Sam Allardyce’s exit from West Ham was confirmed after they ended the season with a limp defeat at relegation-threatened Newcastle on the Premier League’s ‘Survival Sunday’.
Second-half goals from Moussa Sissoko and Jonas Gutierrez ensured safety for the Geordies, but Hammers boss Allardyce will not have his contract renewed.
Newcastle, without a win in their last 10 games and only a single point, needed victory to be sure of keeping Hull beneath them in the Premier League table.
Meanwhile, West Ham, with only three wins in 18 league matches in 2015, were looking for some points to achieve their pre-season target of a top-10 finish.
And Allardyce, against one of his former clubs, made just two changes to his starting line-up, with Reece Burke replacing the injured James Collins, as he had against Everton off the bench a week earlier and Kevin Nolan coming in for Mark Noble.
But the game was not even a minute old when Newcastle attacked on the right through Sissoko and his low cross, miscued by Papiss Cisse at the near post, eventually fell to Emmanuel Riviere, who screwed his shot beyond the far post
West Ham had penalty appeals waved away soon after by referee Martin Atkinson when Enner Valencia went down over the leg of Newcastle defender Mike Williamson.
And Riviere tried an acrobatic effort at the far post in the sixth minute, from Daryl Janmaat’s cross, but sent the ball whistling just the wrong side of the far post and into the side netting.
Adrian got down to his left to smother Janmaat’s deflected drive on 12 minutes, as Sissoko – sent off at Upton Park in the earlier meeting between the sides – continued to enjoy a good battle with Hammer of the Year Aaron Cresswell, the matchwinner at Upton Park in November.
And Janmaat flashed another effort just past Adrian’s right-hand post on 19 minutes as the home side continued to get better sights of goal, despite West Ham having more of the possession.
Valencia needed treatment after a clash of heads with Sissoko, as news of Hull having two goals disallowed against Manchester United came through.
And Valencia was caught late by Jack Colback midway through the first half, only for West Ham’s free kick to come to nothing.
The visitors had their best chance on 24 minutes, though, when Alex Song picked out Cresswell on the left and his ball into the box located Stewart Downing, whose shot was blocked by the legs of Tim Krul.
And Cresswell teased another ball in from the left flank moments later, but Valencia was not alert enough to it and the change went begging.
But Newcastle had another glimpse of Adrian’s goal when Janmaat crossed from the right and the ball fell into the path of Riviere, who shot into the turf and saw it comfortably gathered by the Spanish keeper.
And Winston Reid caught Cisse with a mistimed tackle on 35 minutes, but Colback’s free kick was poor and Gutierrez curled a chance well wide.
Colback produced a better delivery five minutes before the break, with a teasing cross from the left, but Janmaat could not keep his far-post header down and the ball flashed well over Adrian’s crossbar.
Then the lively Janmaat clipped a left-footed shot just past Adrian’s left-hand post in stoppage time, but with both sides having struggled to find the net with much regularity in recent weeks, it was little real surprise to see the scoreline still blank as the half-time whistle went.
The second half was little more than two minutes old when Williamson glanced on Colback’s corner from the right, but saw the ball loop harmlessly beyond the far post.
But Newcastle should have opened the scoring on 50 minutes when Janmaat got into space on the right and slid a tempting ball into the box, but Riviere scuffed his attempt horribly and it drifted away from danger.
West Ham did not heed the warning, though, and a delightful delivery from the left by Gutierrez on 53 minutes found Sissoko climbing high above Reid and Cresswell to power a header past Adrian from six yards out.
St James Park erupted, Sissoko removed his jersey in celebration to earn a booking, while Allardyce contemplated his last moves on the West Ham bench.
Morgan Amalfitano was sent on for Valencia just past the hour mark, with James Tomkins reprieving young Burke for the final 20 minutes of the campaign.
But the home side had the momentum, with safety now firmly in their sights, and the visitors struggled to make much of an impact going forward.
Young Elliot Lee was Allardyce’s final throw of the dice 13 minutes from time, replacing Cheikhou Kouyate, and Hammers got a look soon after when Carlton Cole laid off a right-wing cross for captain Nolan, who pulled his shot from the edge of the box past the post.
West Ham then had a chance to send in a free kick from the right, only to make a complete hash of it and allow Vernon Anita a free run upfield in a 3-on-0 break, before his attempted pass for Cisse was cut out by Adrian.
And as the home fans contemplated such a glaring waste of an opportunity, Reid sent a header onto the roof of Krul’s net at the other end.
A second Newcastle goal arrived on 85 minutes, though, when Cisse and Colback combined to find Gutierrez on the left and his right-footed shot was deflected past Adrian and into the far corner.
Given the fact he had battled back from cancer earier this season it was a true fairytale finish for Gutierrez, who admitted he didn’t know if he would play again.
But West Ham’s season was a real story of two halves. Allardyce paid the price for a poor second half.
Newcastle: Krul, Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett, Anita (Gouffran 89), Colback, Sissoko, Riviere, Gutierrez, Cisse.
Unused subs: Taylor, de Jong, Perez, Cabella, Ameobi, Woodman.
West Ham: Adrian, Jenkinson, Reid, Burke (Tomkins 69), Cresswell, Nolan, Song, Kouyate (Lee 77), Downing, Valencia (Amalfitano 62), Cole.
Unused subs: Jarvis, Nene, O’Brian, Jaaskelainen.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.