Newcastle went into today’s game with the desire to start to build on their mediocre performances in the league, whilst they also had an inspiring comeback at against Club Brugge on Thursday.
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The Hammers on the other hand find their form dipping and diving all over the place, but still continue to find ourselves high up in the table (above Newcastle in fact) and will be looking to further cement our place in the top half of the table.
Before the match itself started a lot of the emphasis was focused on the return of former Newcastle pair Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan, with the latter going on to have the most impact scoring the winning and only goal of the this evenings game. For West Ham Untied it also meant the return of the formally admired Demba Ba, who in all fairness was kept under tabs all game by Winston Reid and James Tomkins.
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I was pretty nervous ahead of this game purely based on the sheer talent that runs through the dressing room of Newcastle, with the likes of Demba Ba, Demba Cisse, Yohan Cabaye, Tim Krul and Hatem Ben Arfa in contention and all of which were players I singled out in my previous article as being a threat to the Hammers.
The first half was very much scrappy and full of lack of desire and passing accuracy, from both sides, resulting in only a couple of attempts on goal. Possession started to tally up in the hammers favour before the interval, before resulting in a touch of luck, after a wild shot from Yossi Benayoun saw his poor effort find the boot of the ‘on-side’ Kevin Nolan, who found no trouble in finding the back of the net.
After seeing what Newcastle had to offer in the first half, I was somewhat optimistic that we would drill out a 1-0 win (despite our poor record in doing so) and despite our first half being equally as poor, we had the likes of Mohamed Diame (who had a terrific game) and Kevin Nolan on our side and both looked capable of making something happen and helped keep the time driving forward, not to forget once again Mark Noble played a sound game and worked from the edge of our box, to then dictate the game and our attacking approach.
Once the whistle was blown to signal the start of the second half once again the tempo of the game never really got going until about the 70th minute mark as the game started to open up, with West Ham making the most of it, despite failing to add to our 1-0 lead.
In all fairness the game itself could have gone either way with both teams playing below average, the only difference was the pure fact Newcastle were just worse than we were and we managed to take our chances when they came begging.
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As soon as it was full time I felt a surge of happiness and relief, I’m not sure if that’s because I now know we are on the road to achieving a high place finish in the league, or if I am just happy to get a win over my flat-mates side…no doubt it’s a mixture.
After the match in an interview with SkySports, Sam Allardyce said, “It was a great performance and a great three points from us away from home, especially after losing three players through injury. I couldn’t ask any more from the players today.”
I thin to say it was a great performance is exaggerating the truth, however getting the three points is always a positive and the work rate shown by the lads will surely go a long way.