English Premiership

Nolan brace boosts Hammers

2014-02-01 16:51
Kevin Nolan (AP Photo)

London - Kevin Nolan lifted West Ham United out of the Premier League relegation zone as the midfielder's double strike clinched a 2-0 win over Swansea City on Saturday.

Sam Allardyce's team secured only their fifth league victory this season thanks to two first-half goals from Nolan at Upton Park.

The Hammers couldn't relax until the final whistle however as they had to survive the final 30 minutes without England striker Andy Carroll, who was sent off for violent conduct following a clash with Swansea's Chico Flores.

The east London club climb one place to 17th in the table after their first home win since November and they are now just two points behind 11th-placed Swansea.

West Ham made two enforced changes as defender George McCartney and Matt Jarvis came in for injured duo Joey O'Brien and Mohamed Diame.

They created the first chance when Jarvis curled a cross towards Carroll, who directed his header over the crossbar.

Allardyce's defensive tactics in West Ham's midweek goalless draw at Chelsea had infuriated Blues boss Jose Mourinho, who accused the Hammers of playing "football from the 19th century".

That battling point against one of the league's top sides had clearly done wonders for West Ham's self-esteem after a difficult period and they kept Swansea on the back foot before taking the lead in the 26th minute.

It was a simple but effective move that bore all the hallmarks of Allardyce's preferred approach.

A well-directed cross found Carroll and the former Liverpool striker rose highest to cushion a header into the path of Nolan, who had timed his run perfectly to drive a low shot past Swansea goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel.

Allardyce's team survived a scare when referee Howard Webb waved away Swansea's penalty appeals after Wilfried Bony broke through on goal and tumbled under a challenge from James Tomkins that made just the slightest contact with the ball.

That proved a crucial moment as the hosts doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time.

Once again Swansea were undone by a textbook example of Allardyce's direct philosophy.

A Stewart Downing corner to the far post picked out Carroll, who peeled away from his marker and headed back across goal to Nolan, who glanced his header past Tremmel from close range.

Carroll got his marching orders in the 59th minute after jumping with Flores in an aerial challenge.

As the pair untangled following their collision, Carroll caught Flores with a flailing arm and, with the Swansea defender falling theatrically to the turf, referee Webb showed him the red card.

That gave lacklustre Swansea hope of a late fightback, but they rarely tested Hammers goalkeeper Adrian.

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