Dismal Hammers slump to Newcastle defeat

West Ham throw away the lead as Newcastle send Hammers crashing

West Ham United 1 Newcastle United 2

THE HAMMERS saw their five-match unbeaten run grind to a heartbreaking halt at Upton Park, where Carlton Cole’s first goal of the season was wiped out by Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll writes STEVE BLOWERS.

And this disappointing defeat leaves Avram Grant’s men rooted to the bottom of the table ahead of next Saturday’s daunting trip to Arsenal.

West Ham had kicked off knowing that victory would send them leapfrogging over the 17th-placed visitors and, certainly, during the opening quarter of an hour, the East Enders were in total control.

But they curiously lost the initiative to allow Nolan and Carroll - Tyneside’s most famous landlord and infamous tenant – to secure the victory sent the Magpies flying up into ninth-place.

Grant made a trio of changes from the side that had drawn at Wolverhampton Wanderers last Saturday as Cole, Matthew Upson and Valon Behrami came in for injured ex-Magpie Kieron Dyer (thigh) plus substitutes Tal Ben Haim and Luis Boa Morte.

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That made for an exciting three-pronged attack that saw Victor Obinna and Frederic Piquionne playing just behind Cole in an adventurous 4-3-2-1 formation.

And after threatening in the opening exchanges, West Ham deservedly took the lead with just a dozen minutes on the clock, when Mark Noble’s defence-splitting pass found Piquionne, whose perfectly-timed run into the area enabled him to patiently square the ball across the face of goal, where the supporting Cole got in front of Jose Enrique to slide home from a yard.

With the excitement of the home fans amongst the tea-time crowd of 34,486, transcending down on to the greasy Boleyn Ground turf, Obinna then tried his luck from range only to see the ball fly into the West Stand for a throw-in.

And as the rain lashed down from the East End skies, it certainly was not making for a welcome return to Upton Park for former Hammers defender Chris Hughton, who had also made three switches from the side that had battled back to secure a 2-2 draw against Wigan Athletic last weekend, as recalls for Nolan, Danny Simpson and Shola Ameobi had seen Danny Guthrie, Peter Lovenkrands and James Perch relegated to the bench.

But, midway through the half, the Magpies’ manager was punching the air with delight, when Joey Barton’s right-wing cross was nodded down by Carroll, who saw Nolan lash home a low eight-yarder, just a split-second before Scott Parker fruitlessly flew into the fray.

Having been forced to live with his skipper following off-field allegations against him and - after seeing his brand new Range Rover torched on his landlord’s driveway in midweek - setting up Nolan’s fourth goal of the season was probably the least that lodger Carroll could have done for his captain.

With Newcastle now firmly back in the contest, this free-flowing match was keeping both defences busy and 10 minutes before the break, only the outstretched boot of Fabricio Coloccini prevented Cole from claiming a second after Obinna powered a low centre into the six-yard box, while former St. James’s Park midfielder, Parker also fired over from 20 yards to keep it level at the break.

Just after the restart, Carroll forced Robert Green into a low save before Grant had to reshuffle his rearguard following a knee injury to Upson that saw Herita Ilunga step from the bench and Danny Gabbidon move from left back into central defence.

Unfazed, the Welshman soon blocked Carroll with a tenacious tackle but midway through a slower second half, the Hammers had to make a second switch when Benni McCarthy came on for Piquionne, who fell awkwardly following an aerial challenge with Enrique.

But as they tried to settle back into their stride following that enforced change, the Hammers found themselves trailing after another right-flank centre from Barton found the unmarked Carroll, who powered a diving header past the flat-footed Green from six yards.

After Barton saw a deflected shot of his own loop inches over, Grant then introduced Pablo Barrera at the expense of Behrami for the final quarter-hour but, by now, West Ham had well and truly lost their way and only Gabbidon’s backside prevented Ameobi from adding a late third for the Magpies.

HAMMERS: Green, Jacobsen, Gabbidon, Upson (Ilunga 53), Da Costa, Behrami (Barrera 75), Parker, Noble, Piquionne (McCarthy 67), Obinna, Cole Unused Subs: Stech, Ben Haim, Faubert.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul, Simpson, Enrique, Coloccini, Williamson, Barton, Tiote, Nolan, Guitierrez, Ameobi, Carroll. Unused Subs: Soderberg. Guthrie, Routledge, Lovenkrands, Perch, Taylor, Smith.

Referee: Chris Foy Attendance: 34,486.

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