West Ham captain is in seventh heaven

Hammers midfielder Kevin Nolan was delighted to notch his seventh goal of the season as West Ham sneaked home 1-0 against Coventry City at Upton Park

When the going gets tough, only those with the strongest will can survive the pressure and that was the case for West Ham skipper Kevin Nolan at Upton Park on Monday afternoon.

Despite dominating for long periods the Hammers were dogged by bad luck and a brilliant performance from Coventry City goalkeeper Joe Murphy until the 66th minute of the match arrived.

Then George McCartney’s cross from the left picked out James Tomkins who nodded across goal for Nolan to head home from close range.

“The lads showed a lot of bottle and thankfully ‘Tomka’ has been able to put one on the far post for me,” said the captain with a wry grin. “It is the first one this year although I have been telling him to do it all season!”

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Many have criticised Nolan’s performances this season, especially at Upton Park, but he was close to his best on Monday and his winning goal was his seventh of the campaign with the last three coming at home.

But it was hard work for both the captain and the rest of the team.

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“It has been a constant thing this year when teams come they set up in that way,” said the 29-year-old. “If we don’t get the early goal a lot of people get jittery, the crowd, us players, but we just have to keep plugging away and I think we did that.

“Hopefully that is the turn of a good year for us and it will catapult us into a good run. We have been disappointed with our last four or five games and we are looking forward hopefully to a good start to 2012.”

With Southampton and Middlesbrough losing on Monday, it was a good day all round for the Hammers, but Nolan is not worried about how the other teams are doing.

“To be honest, I am not really bothered about what they do,” he admitted. “What we have got to get right is what we do. It has been a massive turnaround in six months what has happened to this club. I think the fans have been very patient and they have to continue to be patient I think.”

It was Tomkins who laid the ball on for Nolan to grab the winner and the captain had some special words for him and the rest of the youngsters breaking into the first team at Upton Park.

“He has been doing that all season,” said Nolan. “He is a young lad, still learning. We are still trying to teach him the right things to do, but I think for such a young boy he has got a good head on him, which is the case with a lot of the young lads here.

“Only good things are going to come from him and the rest of them and this season is probably going to give them the best preparation for the rest of their careers.

“This is going to be a massive learning curve and hopefully it will build them up for next season in the Premier League.”

To get there, West Ham need more goals from their captain, but in turn he stresses the important role the fans have to play.

“What we are trying to achieve and what we are trying to get back to is the Premier League, that is the ultimate goal,” he said.

“We won’t be able to do that without the fans and they deserve to be there, so we will be working our socks off from now until the end of the season and hope that they stick with us.”

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