Saturday, 11th January 2014
Much has been discussed of the week preceding the Cardiff City game and Big Sam backed his tried and tested players when it came to team selection in South Wales. Matt Taylor, Jack Collison, Carlton Cole all started while Mo Diame and Ravel Morrison were notably dropped to the bench.
A positive start was slowed by the injury to Guy Demel, who was elbowed in the eye by new arrival Roger Johnson.
It never rains, it pours at Upton Park. Another injury to a key defender and this is eight minutes gone in the game. George McCartney, as has become familiar, filled in as West Ham soldiered on through the first half.
Despite Cardiff City showing some rather impressive attacking flair, it was West Ham who opened the scoring. Matt Jarvis played in a first time ball from the right, which Carlton Cole hit first time into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
Cardiff continued their dominance of possession and had shots galore to match. Adrian was once again passionate and impressive in between the sticks for the Hammers and made some splendid saves to deny Odemwingie and later Craig Bellamy.
With twenty minutes of the match to go, Big Sam brought on Andy Carroll, who looked as fit as a butcher's dog and fresh for the fight. He won his first header on and continued to impress from there.
As stated previously, it never rains it torrentially persists down at West Ham and James Tomkins was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence, meaning the last throes of the game were rather nervy for an away faithful getting used to regular drubbings.
Luckily, the combined efforts of Andy Carroll, who set up the ever-present Mark Noble in the 93rd minute to rifle the ball low and hard into the net were enough to secure the points. If ever a player deserved this goal, it was stand-in captain Mark Noble.
The player scraps and fights for the team week in, week out and covered every blade on the grass on the pitch. I don't think there is a West Ham fan in the land who would not have him as our club captain after this performance.
That being said, it was heart-warming to see the reaction of management, players and staff combined at the final whistle of this fixture. It became clear to all and sundry what a tight unit the players are and also that they are behind the manager, who interestingly refrained from talking to the media after the game.
Perhaps this was a metaphoric two fingers to the press and fans who have bashed Sam continuously during the last few weeks?
Either way, the team was triumphant, Andy Carroll looked impressive and hopefully this is a turning point for a team who surely cannot suffer too much more bad luck this season.
Next week, Newcastle United visit Upton Park in a game that will prove whether Big Sam's boys are here to stay or this result was just a flash in the pan.
Come on you Irons!
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Excellent performance and passion.
Injured early on.
Disappointing due to sending off.
Getting better - but could do with not injuring our best defenders.
What a guy.
A good game.
Has been very good when asked of this season.
A goal and another top effort from the lad.
Asked to fill in - did very well.
A lovely assist and great to see him back.
Referee: Lee Mason.
Man of the Match: Mark Noble.
West Ham United
Adrian, Guy Demel, Razvan Rat, James Tomkins, Roger Johnson, Mark Noble, Matt Jarvis, Stewart Downing, Jack Collison, Matt Taylor, Carlton Cole.
Goals: Carlton Cole Mark Noble 90 .
Booked: None booked. .
Sent Off: James Tomkins .
David Marshall, Kevin Theophile-Catherine, Steven Caulker, Mark Hudson, Declan John, Gary Medel, Peter Whittingham, Craig Noone, Bo-Kyung Kim, Peter Odemwingie, Fraizer Campbell .
Substitutes: Craig Bellamy (Peter Odemwingie 46), Magnus Wolff Eikrem (Gary Medel 65), Andreas Cornelius (Mark Hudson 78).
Subs not used: Joe Lewis , Ben Turner, Aron Gunnarsson, Kevin McNaughton .
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..