Spot-on Noble lifts Hammers
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Premier League: West Ham United 1 Burnley 0
Mark Noble’s clinically converted penalty left basement boys Burnley clinging on for their Premier League lives at Upton Park, where they left the field eight points adrift of safety with just three games left to play.
The West Ham midfielder fired home from the spot midway through the first half after Michael Duff was controversially dismissed for chopping Cheikhou Kouyate and that conversion was enough to send Sam Allardyce’s men up into ninth place.
Both these sides had found themselves on the spot last weekend, too, but while Adrian’s superb save from Charlie Austin earned a point for West Ham at Queens Park Rangers, ex-Hammer Matt Taylor’s costly penalty miss contributed to the heartbreaking home defeat against Leicester City that left Burnley rooted firmly to the foot of the Premier League table.
Following his team’s goalless draw at Loftus Road, Allardyce made just one switch as Morgan Amalfitano came in for substitute Matt Jarvis and the Hammers almost got off to a flyer, when Aaron Cresswell whipped a third-minute ball across the face of goal, but the inrushing Enner Valencia failed to apply the vital touch.
And on 11 minutes, Reece Burke just could not get enough power on Stewart Downing’s half-cleared corner and Tom Heaton easily gathered.
In the opposite dug-out, Sean Dyche had also made just one change from the side that had been outfoxed last Saturday with Ashley Barnes coming in for the benched Lukas Jutkiewicz and, one week on, Leicester were still making things difficult for the Clarets after their lunchtime victory over Newcastle United had left Burnley kicking off six points away from the safe haven of 17th place.
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As the quarter-hour mark approached, the visitors mustered their first effort of the afternoon as Danny Ings stroked an angled effort inches beyond the far post and then Taylor’s left-wing cross just eluded an airborne Barnes. The ex-Hammer then sent over a second cross, shortly afterwards, but this time Ings sent a diving header over the bar.
But just as Burnley were establishing a foothold on the game, Duff tripped Kouyate as the Senegalese midfielder powered his way towards goal and, after being duly dismissed for felling the Hammer in the act of shooting, the defender’s misery was complete, when Noble sent the consequent spot-kick into the bottom right-hand corner as Heaton headed off in the opposite direction.
With the visitors still coming to terms with the loss of both a goal and a man, Downing crossed low for Valencia, whose point-blank shot was brilliantly tipped over by the Burnley ‘keeper, who then clawed away Amalfitano’s angled screamer in equally spectacular style.
In reply, Barnes had an effort scrambled off the line by the hitherto redundant Adrian, while Valencia was cautioned for an aerial assault on Ings before Noble joined him in the book of referee Moss for blocking Scott Arfield and then Kieran Trippier and Cresswell brought the curtain down on the first half with wayward long-rangers.
Michael Keane replaced George Boyd at the interval and after Kevin Nolan prodded inches wide within seconds of the restart, the breaking Ings then sent an angled shot ripping into the side-netting.
On 55 minutes, Nolan invited Amalfitano to curl a 20-yarder just an inch or so beyond the right-hand post, before the Hammers’ skipper then saw his own shot parried by Heaton only for Valencia to bundle wide.
Taylor was denied a goal on his return to Upton Park by the outstretched legs of Adrian before Downing was harshly booked for tumbling over Ben Mee’s rash slide tackle.
As the second period wore on, the visitors found it more and more difficult to escape from their own half and Burke had a couple of deflected efforts, but the Hammers just could not find the clinical final ball to give them the cushion of a second goal.
Nene and Carlton Cole stepped from the bench for the finale as Nolan and Valencia retired, while Burnley also replaced Barnes and Taylor with Marvin Sordell and Ross Wallace.
Indeed, Cole headed just over with his first touch, while Wallace was quickly booked for tugging back the escaping Nene and then Cole was again denied by Heaton before James Collins hooked over.
Jason Shackell also headed Kouyate’s shot off the line and Nene’s 20-yard dipper was tipped over the top in the last act of a contest in which Noble’s first-half spot-kick had been enough for the Hammers to record only their third victory of 2015.
West Ham: Adrian, Jenkinson, Cresswell, Collins, Burke, Kouyate, Noble, Nolan (Nene 78), Amalfitano, Downing, Valencia (Cole 82). Unused subs: Jaaskelainen, Jarvis, O’Brien, Song, Oxford.
Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Mee, Duff, Shackell, Boyd (Keane h/t) Taylor (Wallace 80), Arfield, Jones, Ings, Barnes (Sordell 78). Unused subs: Gilks, Kightly, Reid, Jutkiewicz.
Booked: Valencia (41), Noble (44), Downing (60), Wallace (84) Mee (90+1).
Sent off: Duff (24).
Referee: Jon Moss.