West Ham bounce back to beat Baggies
22:33 02 December 2014
Barclays Premier League: West Brom 1 West Ham United 2
On-fire West Ham United came from behind to beat the Baggies at The Hawthorns as they made it two welcome wins inside four fabulous days.
Although Craig Dawson gave West Bromwich Albion a 10th-minute lead, Kevin Nolan and James Tomkins then hit back with their first goals of the season and those first-half strikes mean that the fifth-placed Hammers have now lost just once in their last eight outings.
The in-form East Enders made a trio of changes from the side that had seen off Newcastle United at the weekend, as Nolan, Winston Reid and Mauro Zarate came in for the injured Mark Noble (calf), plus substitutes James Collins and Matt Jarvis.
On a freezing December night in the Midlands, West Ham soon found themselves under early pressure as Victor Anichebe’s early shot was deflected over for the first of three quick-fire corners, while Graham Dorrans’ downward volley was palmed away by Adrian before Dawson served up an early warning of his intentions with a far post header into the side-netting.
Saturday lunchtime’s defeat against Arsenal had signalled an unfortunate hat-trick of reverses for the 15th-placed Baggies, who made two switches for the visit of Sam Allardyce’s side as Anichebe and Chris Baird replaced Sebastien Pocognoli and Youssouf Mulumbu, who was relegated to the bench.
But the Baggies had hardly looked down on their luck in the opening stages and when Tomkins fouled Anichebe on 10 minutes, the unmarked Dawson was allowed to nod Craig Gardner’s inswinging, left-wing free-kick beyond Adrian from six yards.
Having conceded the foul that led to Albion’s opener, Tomkins was then booked for upending Anichebe as the hosts pressed for a second.
On 20 minutes, a rare raid upfield saw the Hammers force their first corner of the evening, but after Nolan met Stewart Downing’s flag-kick with a bicycle kick that was smothered by Ben Foster, referee Mike Jones blew the whistle as a goal-line melee ensued.
Zarate also stung the keeper’s fingers with a powerful 18-yarder that steamed through the cold Hawthorns night and then Baggies’ old boy Morgan Amalfitano just failed to apply the finishing touch to another probing move.
Despite trailing to that early goal, West Ham were now enjoying their best spell of the night as Andy Carroll just failed to get on the end of Amalfitano’s hopeful up and under and Zarate’s low centre into the six-yard box was booted clear by Dawson as Carroll charged in on goal.
Captain Chris Brunt was then cautioned for sliding through Nolan and when Downing floated the consequent 35th-minute free-kick into the Albion area, Tomkins’ header was only half-cleared by the skipper to Carroll whose 12-yard overhead kick was brilliantly parried by Foster.
But danger was still in the air and Nolan reacted fastest to nod the looping ball over the line for the equaliser.
Brunt’s misery continued when he injured himself attempting another sliding tackle in stoppage time and, despite signalling to come off, manager Alan Irvine was no doubt looking to get to the break. But sensing a kill against the 10 remaining men, Cheikhou Kouyate let fly with a low 20-yarder that Foster tipped aside.
With just seconds of the first half remaining, Mulumbu eventually emerged from the dug-out, but his arrival came too late to have any influence and, when Downing floated the corner to the far post, the orange-booted Tomkins rose highest to send a thumping header into the net to give West Ham an unlikely interval lead, while the Hammers fans at the other end mistakenly saluted the similarly cobbled Carroll.
Quite frankly, it did not matter to them who had scored, the Hammers were ahead despite their sluggish start, but just after the restart Dawson had a glorious chance to strike another early blow, however he wastefully drilled a low shot beyond the base of Adrian’s right-hand post.
On the hour, Saido Berahino saw a low 15-yarder deflect into the clutches of the Hammers keeper and then the Spaniard brilliantly clawed away Mulumbu’s powerful angled shot before Collins and Enner Valencia replaced Amalfitano and Carroll.
Silvestre Varela also came on for Gardner and soon saw two shots charged down in quick succession as West Ham defended as though their lives depended on it and then Anichebe fired well wide.
Stephane Sessegnon was then booked for chopping Aaron Cresswell, while Anichebe headed straight at Adrian before seeing his late, angled shot deflect off the outstretched ankle of the Spaniard.
And when Dorrans volleyed wide in the closing moments the frustrated home fans knew then that it just was not going to be their night.
BAGGIES: Foster, Wisdom, Baird (Ideye 83), Dawson, Lescott, Gardner (Varela 64), Brunt (Mulumbu 45), Dorrans, Berahino Sessegnon, Anichebe. Unused subs: Myhill, Gamboa, McAuley. Samaras.
HAMMERS: Adrian, Jenkinson, Cresswell, Reid, Tomkins, Kouyate, Downing, Amalfitano (Collins 64), Zarate (Cole 77), Nolan, Carroll (Valencia 64). Unused subs: Jaaskelainen, Jarvis, O’Brien, Demel.
Booked:Tomkins (17), Brunt (34), Sessegnon (70).
Referee: Mike Jones.