West Ham make it three wins on the trot thanks to late goals
22:10 11 February 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Premier League: West Ham 2 Norwich City 0
West Ham left it late before making it three wins on the trot at Upton Park, but they hqad to work hard for victory over fellow strugglers Norwich City.
An 85th minute header from Hammers centre back James Collins lifted the roof off Upton Park. Diame striding down the left flank fired over a lovely cross and Collins beat John Ruddy to the ball as the keeper came out, to steer his header firmly in the net.
Diame added another goal in the final minute of stoppage-time to put the icing on the top of a well deserved and important win.
It is so tight at the bottom with every team below ninth place hovering on the brink of the melting pot. The Hammers had strung together a run of three games unbeaten and Sam Allardyce selected the team that pulled off a rousing 2-0 victory at Aston Villa for this key game against the Canaries.
Norwich boss Chris Hughton had been relieved to be able to include Robert Snodgrass, who was ruled out of Saturday’s game against Manchester City with a groin injury.
In such a climate one anticipated a fiercely contested battle but the first half never really got going, the fear of losing possibly and consequently the crowd were very flat.
With Matt Taylor looking good in a central midfield role alongside Mark Noble, skipper Kevin Nolan, the two goal hero at Villa Park, had licence to join Carlton Cole in attack. But when Noble nicked the ball off Leroy Far and laid a perfect ball forward, but Nolan, caught in two minds surrendered possession.
It had been a quiet start but in the ninth minute the Canaries nearly struck. Nathan Redmond made ground down the left and delivered a peach of a cross that was met by Gary Hooper who directed his downward header on goal. The bounce seemed to trouble Adrian, the keeper palming it away as he scrambled on all fours across the goal-line.
Adrian made a crucial save on 18 minutes. West Ham were caught sleeping as Nathan Redmond lobbed a ball in behind them for Robert Snodgrass to go clear. Adrian advanced and stayed upright to foil the former Leeds United star by blocking his shot with his body.
West Ham responded with a Matt Taylor led attack. Cole was unable to find the space to get his shot through. Jarvis then had a crack from inside the six-yard box but the angle was tight and the goalmouth crowded.
A penetrating cross from Matt Taylor found Nolan on the edge of the box. He laid the ball back for Noble to run onto it and strike a decent shot that was calmly plucked out of the air by Ruddy.
Just after the half hour the Hammers subjected the City defence to some anxious moments with balls bouncing around in their goalmouth. The best chance coming from a driven cross from Jarvis on the left that skidded across the face of Ruddy’s goal with James Collins racing in at the far post just a stretch away from making contact.
Adrian became West Ham’s saviour in first-half stoppage time with an acrobatic save to turn a blast from Alex Tettey from 12-yards round the post.
The Hammers, who had enjoyed most of the ball without creating any clear-cut goal scoring chances had looked far from secure at the back when hit on the break and indeed the visitors were surely disappointed they had not converted from any of the three good chances they had fashioned.
Sam Allardyce sent on Marco Borriello for Cole for the second-half and the Roma striker was close to making an impact with his first touch but was just beaten to the ball by the advancing Ruddy.
There was certainly more fire in the Hammers bellies, but play was halted when the two number 23’s Downing and Olsson, clashed heads in a duel for the ball.
On resumption of play Matt Taylor and Jarvis fashioned another scramble in the Norwich goalmouth, but Nolan, surrounded by yellow shirts couldn’t get his shot off.
Norwich hit back through Martin Olsson, who from an inside-left position 22-yards out, hit a rasping shot with the outside of his right foot. It threatened the goal in flight before veering wide of the right post.
Gary Hooper, who scored his first Premier League goal for Norwich against the Hammers at Carrow Road in November, squandered the best chance of the game on 69 minutes when with only Adrian to beat he failed to get the ball past the goalkeeper.
Five minutes later Mohamed Diame, who had replaced Jarvis, missed an equally inviting invitation to score when set up by Nolan; England international ‘keeper Ruddy denying him with a superb reflex save.
Antonio Nocerino, the Italian international from Milan had replaced Matt Taylor as West Ham took control.
Then came Collins’ match winner to extend the Hammers run to four matches unbeaten and a climb up the table.
With four minutes of stoppage time to face it was an edgy finish for all concerned but the final burst from Diame who ran 30-yards and twisted between two defenders to shoot, his effort deflected past the unfortunate Ruddy.
WEST HAM UNITED: Adrian, McCartney, Nolan (capt), Tomkins, Jarvis (Diame 61), Taylor (Nocerino 78), Noble, Collins, Demel, Downing, Carlton Cole (Borriello h/t).
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy, Martin, Johnson, Bassong (capt), Snodgrass, Fer, Hooper Elmander 76), Redmond (P9lkington 81), Olsson, Yobo, Tettey.