Both sides went into this game with their managers targeting this fixture as one that would have been high on the priority list to get 3 points in.
The Baggies arrived in East London having not scored in their last two away fixtures at Stoke and Chelsea, whilst West Ham went into the game with the Gareth Bale inspired Tottenham being the only team to win at Upton Park in 2013 so far.
Kevin Nolan returned for West Ham in the only change to their team from the 0-2 defeat at Chelsea before the International break, while West Brom brought in Shane Long and Graham Dorrans for James Morrison and Jerome Thomas.
The game started with both team showing good attacking intent and the first 5 minutes saw efforts from Shane Long, Kevin Nolan and Ricardo Vaz all off target, whilst Graham Dorrans ( team high of 5 shots, with 3 on target and 2 off target, 1 goal ) forced the home Goalkeeper into the first save of the game after a somewhat tame effort but on 12 minutes, Juskellainen produced a brilliant save from a Lukaka free kick that got deflected.
The Finn somehow managed to redirect his dive to make a top class save which saw the ball rebound back off the post and into his arms.
The deadlock was broken 2 minutes later though with a textbook Andy Carroll ( 3 shots on target, 2 goals ) header which saw him tower over Jonas Olsson ( 2 clearances and only 1 aerial duel with Carroll which was lost ) and power a strong header past Ben Foster to put the Hammers 1-0 up.
The Hammers grabbed a second goal in the 28th minute after a slick West Ham counter attack see’s Matt Jarvis ( 6 open play crosses, 1 chance created in open play ) feed Ricardo Vaz Te ( 3 shots off target, 3 chances created and 1 assist ) and the Portuguese’s vision finds the unmarked Gary O’Neil ( a game high 4 interceptions, 1 goal and 1 assist ) who curls a fabulous right footed shot past the diving Foster from 25 yards.
West Brom at this stage were shell-shocked, the ever industrious Shane Long ( 2 shots, both off target ) was finding it tough against the West Ham centre backs Reid and Collins who were very quick into the tactical and far more dominant when the Baggies went for more aerial service into Long.
With Lukaka ( 2 shots, 1 off target and 1 on target ) drifting at first out to the left hand side and then later in the game to much deeper positions to try to see more of the ball, West Brom in the first hour were restricted to mainly efforts at goal from long-range and were getting more and more frustrated with some well-organized Hammers defending.
Diame ( 100% pass completion, 25 out of 25 ) was a driving force behind a good West Ham display.
West Ham themselves looked the more likely team to get the ever important third goal and it came in the 79th minute after a straight free kick from James Collins ( 20 clearances, 1 assist ) caught the visiting defence sleeping and Andy Carroll ( 3 shots on target, 1 goal, 2 chances created ) watched the ball fall over his right shoulder before scoring his second goal of the game with a perfectly executed right foot volley that wrapped up the points for the Hammers.
The last 10 minutes were marred for West Ham by a recurrence of the knee injury that has kept George McCartney out of action for the past few months with McCartney limping off within 3 minutes of coming on as substitute, and the conceding of a penalty which Graham Dorrans drilled home for a WBA consolation goal.
A 94th minute lack of discipline by Mulumbu saw the Baggies finish the game with 10 men also after he foolishly kicked the ball at Gary O’Neil under the nose of Andre Mariner for reasons unclear, which saw the official brandish the red card.
The win saw West Ham climb up to 11th place in the League with a 6 point buffer on the relegation zone.
It was a display that Sam Allardyce would have been most certainly pleased with and he said the following after the game :
[quote]The points are more important than anything else but the performance along with the result and the fact that we won comfortably shows how good we have been at home all season. Andy Carroll scored the goal of the season for us, it was a fantastic goal, a world-class finish. He scored two today and it was his best performance. It was an important win for us, putting us back in 11th spot and it is about where we have been all season. It shows the consistency for the season.[/quote]
Steve Clarke in the opposite dugout was less impressed with his team’s performance on the day :
[quote]We knew it would be a difficult game, and in the first half they were a little bit better than us. The goals ewe conceded are not like us. We started the game quite well, but there are small margins in this game. After being 1-0 down, we had a difficult afternoon. There are not been too many times this season that we have felt like this. We have seven game and we want to finish on a high.[/quote]
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