West Ham make it two wins on the trot thanks to Noble penalty
PUBLISHED: 17:10 17 December 2016 | UPDATED: 17:10 17 December 2016
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers had to ride their luck as Hull City hit the woodwork three times before they grabbed the win
West Ham United 1 Hull City 0
Two valuable victories inside four days have certainly lifted the gloom at the London Stadium, where Mark Noble again proved to be the match-winner.
The Hammers skipper made no mistake from the penalty spot with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining to give West Ham United back-to-back wins and ease the pressure going into the festive break.
But until Tom Huddlestone was adjudged to have brought down Michail Antonio in the act of shooting, Slaven Bilić’s side had seemingly lost their way in the East End fog against a Tigerish Hull City side, who had squandered several chances to ease their own relegation fears.
Wednesday’s workmanlike win over Burnley had lifted the Hammers into 15th spot, four points clear of the drop zone and, following that Noble-inspiired 1-0 victory over the Clarets, Bilić predictably named an unchanged line-up.
And just as they had found Burnley battening down the hatches three days earlier, West Ham were also finding it equally difficult to break down a well-drilled Hull City outfit in the opening quarter-hour.
Apart from a couple of dazzling runs by Manuel Lanzini and the prodding and probing of the diminutive Dimitri Payet, who forced a trio of corners, Bilić’s boys had little to show for taking the game to the visitors, early on.
Certainly, there had been no midweek joy in the capital for the Tigers, who were torn to shreds by Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night but despite a 0-3 defeat that left his side in 19th place, Mike Phelan made just one switch as Dieumerci Mbokani came in for substitute, Adama Diomandé.
Midway through the first half, though, Mbokani produced the first telling shot of the afternoon, when he fired a low 15-yarder just a foot or so wide and, moments later, the DR Congo international looked all set to break the deadlock, when he raced on to Aaron Cresswell’s sloppy backpass, but after drawing Darren Randolph, he clipped his 12-yard shot on to the keeper’s left-hand post and the ball somehow ricocheted across goal to safety.
With the Tigers now rising from their early slumber, Harry Maguire then out-jumped Antonio to nod a Robert Snodgrass cross straight at goal, but the razor-sharp, Randolph brilliantly diverted the powerful header aside with his left palm.
Sam Clucas also blasted high over with the goal at his mercy, before Jake Livermore was booked by for an atrociously high challenge on Andy Carroll, which resulted in Payet curling the consequent 25-yard free-kick into the clutches of David Marshall.
Ten minutes before the break, Pedro Obiang’s clumsy stamp on Clucas saw him go into the book, too, and that fifth yellow card of the campaign means that the Spaniard can now spend Boxing Day at home with his family rather than travel to Swansea City.
Just before the break, Maguire’s crisp, low 20-yarder forced Randolph into another low save, while Livermore scuffed wide, Obiang went within inches of prodding into his own net and Mbokani sent a looping header over the angle to leave Hull City wondering just how they had not got their noses in front during a scrappy, goalless first-half.
Having seen all of their early impetus and initiative evaporate into the misty, chilly December air, the Hammers made a double-substitution at the interval as Andre Ayew and Edimilson Fernandes replaced the lame Lanzini and Obiang.
But still Hull pressed and when Snodgrass played in the overlapping Andrew Robertson, Mark Noble headed the left-wing cross on to the base of the near post.
On the hour, the rampaging Robertson was again charging down the left flank and, this time, his angled 20-yard shot fizzed across the face of the the flying Randolph before rocking the far post.
In reply, Noble was booked for fouling Huddlestone, while Carroll could not get clean contact six yards out before Ayew thought he had bundled home only for Robertson to hack off the line.
Angelo Ogbonna also saw a long-ranger deflect wide and, as the contest, flowed from end-to-end, Fernandes was also forced to clear from under his own crossbar after Maguire headed another Snodgrass corner goalwards.
On 70 minutes, Phelan made a double-switch of his own as Mbokani and Livermore stood down for Markus Henriksen and Diomandé, but instead of turning the screw on the Hammers, the Tigers’ manager soon saw his side fall behind.
Within just five minutes of that reshuffle, Antonio’s attempted turn in the area was thwarted by Huddlestone who tried to tug the drawstring from the wing-back’s shorts and, after pausing for thought, referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot to the dismay of the Tigers.
For the second time in three days, Noble – who had followed up to rifle home the rebound on Wednesday night - stepped forward and coolly stroked the resultant penalty into the bottom right-hand corner as Marshall headed in the opposite direction and at long, long last, the claret and blue fans inside London Stadium could finally dance a jog of festive joy.
HAMMERS: Randolph, Reid, Ogbonna, Kouyaté, Antonio, Cresswell, Noble, Obiang (Fernandes h/t), Lanzini (Ayew h/t), Payet (Nordtveit 90+3), Carroll. Unused subs: Adrián, Feghouli, Fletcher, Quina.
TIGERS: Marshall, Maguire, Dawson, Davies, Elmohamady, Huddlestone (Bowen 86), Livermore, (Henriksen 69), Clucas, Robertson, Snodgrass, Mbokani (Diomandé 69). Unused subs: Jakupović, Meyler, Maloney, Weir.
Booked: Livermore (32), Obiang (36), Noble (60), Dawson (74), Henriksen (84), Maguire (90+5).
Referee: Lee Mason.
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