West Ham cling on for precious win over Hull City
22:05 26 March 2014
The Hammers made desperately hard work of it against 10 men, but a penalty and own goal see them home
West Ham United 2 Hull City 1
The Hammers edged themselves three points closer to safety at Upton Park, where this valuable victory enabled Sam Allardyce’s side to leap-frog the 10-man Tigers into 11th spot.
But Big Sam’s side certainly made hard work of it after Mark Noble’s third goal of the season gave West Ham a controversial 26th-minute spot-kick lead following the dismissal of keeper Allen McGregor, who had collided with Mohamed Diame.
Having lost to an equally disputed Robbie Brady penalty at the KC Stadium back in September, the footballing gods had ensured that things were temporarily balanced out, only for Nikica Jelavic to then deflect Tom Huddlestone’s free-kick beyond Adrian with his elbow just after the break.
But the Tigers then saw red-faced James Chester shin the ball past substitute keeper Steve Harper to give the Hammers that much needed win.
Despite having been single-handedly demolished by two-goal Wayne Rooney at the weekend, Allardyce had named an unchanged team from the side that had lost to Manchester United.
And they created the first chances of a chilly late-March evening as Stewart Downing climaxed a mazy run with a low 18-yarder that McGregor smartly turned aside for a corner, while Matt Taylor also saw his 20-yard shot deflected over the bar.
With just nine minutes on the clock, Big Sam was forced to make a hasty substitution, when James Collins hobbled away to be replaced by on-loan Roger Johnson.
Undaunted, West Ham continued to press and it was Downing, who was again posing problems with a hanging right-wing cross that tickled the top of the crossbar.
Saturday’s victory over West Bromwich Albion had sent the Tigers roaring up into 12th-spot, two points above the Hammers and following that win over the Baggies, Steve Bruce made two changes as Maynor Figueroa and Alex Bruce came in for substitutes Liam Rosenior and Sone Aluko.
The visitors struggled to get out of their own half in the opening 20 minutes and their frustration was underlined by the consequently-cautioned Jake Livermore’s untidy lunge on Mark Noble.
Indeed, the Hammers skipper was to find himself in the thick of things shortly afterwards, too, when his bulldozing run into the Hull area ended with the ball ricocheting into the path of Mohamed Diame, who having controlled with his wrist, then found himself colliding with McGregor inside the six-yard box.
With both players lying pole-axed in the area, referee Mike Dean only added to the Tigers’ pain by pointing to the spot and showing the Hull ‘keeper a red card.
That saw father replace son as Steve Bruce took off Alex in order to get Harper on to the field and, having wrongly dived to the left, the substitute keeper’s first task was to pick Noble’s well-struck penalty out of the net.
Ten minutes before the break, Huddlestone met Ahmed Elmohamady’s right-wing cross to send the visitors’ first shot of the evening high into the Bobby Moore Stand and, in stoppage time, Adrian fisted Figueroa’s screamer aside to leave it advantage West Ham at the break.
But within three minutes of the restart, Hull drew level, when Huddlestone’s scorching 30-yard free-kick flew beyond the Hammers wall before hitting Jelavic’s elbow and beating the flat-footed Adrian.
City’s joy at levelling was short-lived, though, and on 54 minutes Guy Demel sent a low right-wing cross into the danger-zone, where Kevin Nolan missed completely, only for the ball to loop off Chester’s shin and beat the helpless Harper.
After Downing lashed woefully wide, Joe Cole replaced Diame midway through a half in which it was difficult to distinguish which side had that extra man and, indeed, with West Ham hanging precariously on to their slim lead, the frustration was mounting amongst the claret and blue fans in the crowd of 31,033.
On 82 minutes, the 11 men of West Ham finally mustered their first serious shot of the half, but Harper beat Nolan’s 20-yarder away while at the other end, in a frantic finale the alert Adrian was called upon to tip over Huddlestone’s rising, 25-yard screamer to ensure that the Hammers finally came away with all three points.
HAMMERS: Adrian, Demel, McCartney, Collins (Johnson 9), Tomkins, Diame (J. Cole 68), Downing, Noble, Taylor, Nolan, Carroll. Unused subs: Jaaskelainen, Armero, Vaz Te, C.Cole, Nocerino.
TIGERS: McGregor, Elmohamady, Figueroa (Rosenior 59), Chester, Davies, Livermore, Meyler, Bruce (Harper 24) Huddlestone, Jelavic (Sagbo 82) Long. Unused subs: Koren, Fryatt, Aluko, Quinn.
Booked: Livermore (18)
Sent Off: McGregor (23)
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirrall)