Classy Carroll double moves West Ham to the brink of safety
17:20 30 March 2013
West Ham United 3 West Bromwich Albion 1
After 33 days without a game at Upton Park, it was home sweet home for the Hammers as they surely silenced all notion of becoming embroiled in a late-season relegation scrap, with this welcome win that lifted them into 11th-place.
A goal in either half from Andy Carroll plus Gary O’Neil’s first conversion for over a year made it a miserable return to the East End for Baggies boss Steve Clarke and his No.2 Kevin Keen, who saw Graham Dorrans net a last-gasp penalty to add just a little bit of respectability to the score-line.
Sam Allardyce had made just one change from the side that had lost at Chelsea in the lead up to the international break with Kevin Nolan returning in place of substitute Jack Collison.
And although O’Neil soon flashed an effort across the face of goal, while the returning skipper scuffed a low 18-yarder wide and Ricardo Vaz Te also nodded over, it was the visitors, who conjured up the best of the serious early chances.
Kicking-off in eighth-spot, six places and 11 points above the Hammers, the Baggies had made two switches from the side that shared a goalless draw at Stoke City a fortnight ago, with Shane Long and Dorrans coming in for James Morrison and substitute Jerome Thomas.
Certainly, the recalled Long wasted no time curling a 20-yarder just wide of Jaaskelainen’s left-hand post before Dorrans forced the Hammers’ keeper to scramble his awkward, low 20-yarder aside.
And when Chris Brunt floated over the consequent corner, Gareth McAuley nodded home, but with Jaaskelainen also finding himself in the back of the net, too, the Albion defender had clearly used excessive force and referee Andre Marriner soon ruled out the effort.
Then, on 14 minutes, Romelu Lukaku drilled a low 25-yard free-kick through the Hammers wall and, although the suspiciously offside-looking Long deflected the shot goalwards, Jaaskelainen brilliantly tipped the ball onto the base of his right-hand upright, before gratefully gathering the rebound.
A goal was not far away and, sure enough, with a quarter-hour gone, the escaping Matt Jarvis won a corner, which O’Neil floated into the six-yard box, where Carroll powered high above the static Jonas Olsson to send a thumping header into the net.
Having seen the on-loan striker break the deadlock with his fourth goal of the season, the Hammers quickly went in search of their second and Mohamed Diame sent a rising 20-yarder steaming through the chilly East End air, before Jarvis also cleared the bar by inches after latching onto Carroll’s nod-down.
As the half-hour mark approached, though, West Ham did indeed double their advantage, when the breaking Vaz Te rampaged deep into Baggies’ territory before squaring to O’Neil, who cleverly clipped an 18-yarder under Ben Foster’s right-hand angle as Olsson helplessly slid in.
That was the midfielder’s first goal since netting at Peterborough one year and three days earlier and, although Dorrans gave Jaaskelainen another uncomfortable moment with a late, low 30-yarder, West Ham departed at the break firmly in the driving seat, thanks to those efforts from Carroll and O’Neil.
Just after the restart Lukaku sent a blistering 20-yarder inches over the left-hand angle, while Dorrans drilled an angled free-kick beyond the far post and, midway through the half, Jaaskelainen was forced to tackle Billy Jones as he weaved his way towards goal.
After Long was booked for tripping Joey O’Brien, Nolan was then replaced by Matt Taylor for the final 20 minutes, while Clarke made a double-switch with the introduction of Markus Rosenberg and want-away Peter Odemwingie.
The Baggies substitutes were still finding their feet as Foster gathered another Carroll header from under his right-hand angle, while at the other end Odemwingie forced Jaaskelainen into a low stop, moments after James Collins had also thwarted him with a stubborn block.
Reid was then harshly booked for handball as he battled with Odemwingie and although Albion were putting up a better fight in the second half, Carroll ended the Midlanders’ resistance with a simply sublime goal.
Just ten minutes remained when Collins sent a deep free-kick into the area from halfway and, having watched the flight of the ball every inch of the way, the England striker held off Olsson before sumptuously sweeping a 12-yard volley across the face of Foster and into the far corner.
Having only just arrived from the dug-out, poor George McCartney then hobbled away after falling awkwardly and, with all three substitutes used, the ten-man Hammers then saw Dorrans drill home an 87th-minute penalty after Lukaku was bundled over by Reid and Taylor.
But it was too little too late to deny West Ham three richly deserved points and Albion’s frustration was summed up in the final moments, when Youssouf Mulumbu bizarrely picked the ball up and drop-kicked into O’Neil’s backside, to earn the instant red card that sent him to the dressing room a few moments ahead of his well-beaten team-mates.
HAMMERS: Jaaskelainen, Demel (McCartney 78), O’Brien, Reid, Collins, O’Neil, Diame (Collison 82), Vaz Te, Jarvis, Nolan (Taylor 69), Carroll. Subs: Henderson, Tomkins, C. Cole, Chamakh.
BAGGIES: Foster, Jones, Ridgewell, McAuley, Olsson, Dorrans (Fortune 88), Brunt, Yacob (Odemwingie 71), Mulumbu, Long (Rosenberg 71), Lukaku. Subs: Myhill, Popov, Thomas, Tamas.
Referee: Andre Marriner (Birmingham)
Bookings: Long (67), Reid (78).
Sent Off: Mulumbu (90+4)