West Ham win bread and butter encounter against Peterborough
Championship: West Ham 1 Peterborough United 0
There was nothing Posh about this bread and butter encounter at Upton Park, where Mark Noble’s 11th-minute penalty proved enough to extend the Hammers unbeaten league run to seven games.
But as Sam Allardyce’s side tread the long road back to the promised land of the Premier League, these no-frills three points over willing but wanting Peterborough did, at least, send the East Enders handily up into fourth place.
Following last week’s goalless draw at Millwall, the Hammers made just one change as Winston Reid came in for substitute James Tomkins, who had been struggling with a groin problem, since limping off at the New Den.
And the Kiwi defender soon slotted in seamlessly to a West Ham side that kicked-off four points and six places higher than Posh, who made an afternoon that looked difficult on paper even more testing on turf, when Lee Frecklington over-excitably nudged Henri Lansbury to the Boleyn Ground grass, with just 11 minutes on the clock.
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Cool as you like, Noble expertly dispatched his second spot-kick of the season into the bottom left-hand corner, while the stranded Paul Jones headed in the opposite direction to the delight of the claret and blue fans in the Kids for a Fiver crowd of 29,895.
After seeing his side start comfortably enough, Darren Ferguson, who had made just one switch from the team that had beaten Burnley last time out, would have been reaching for one of his dad’s hairdryers after seeing Posh concede such a cheap penalty.
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Indeed, with Tommy Rowe replacing the benched Lee Tomlin, the recalled midfielder might even have celebrated his 23rd birthday with an opening goal of his own but the alert Robert Green had somehow earlier beaten away the point-blank glancing header after ex-Hammer Grant McCann whipped over an awkward first-minute corner.
And although George Boyd went on to pepper the England ‘keeper’s goal with a couple of long-rangers in a bid to find an equaliser, it was West Ham, who went closest to increasing the first-half goal count as both Carlton Cole and Lansbury curled inches wide.
The tenacious Tomlin replaced Ryan Tunnicliffe after the interval and the Posh substitute wasted no time firing a low 18-yarder inches wide of the base of Green’s right-hand post, before playing in Boyd, who wastefully dragged wide from close range.
At the other end, the soaring four-goal Cole nodded over after Lansbury cleverly invited Julien Faubert to fire over a teasing cross but that was to be the top-scorer’s last contribution of the afternoon, for Allardyce then replaced him with John Carew.
The towering Norwegian was now the Hammers’ focal point but, in truth, it was the visitors, who were now looking more cohesive going forward and, after Tomlin forced a save out of Green, McCann then sent a scorching shot thudding into the keeper’s ribs from 35 yards.
Midway through the second period, David Bentley came on for Faubert in a desperate bid to get West Ham purring into gear – and after the injured Tomlin was replaced by Paul Taylor – the on-loan Spurs’ midfielder saw Jones palm his goalbound 20-yarder aside for a corner but in the end, Noble’s penalty was still sufficient to ensure victory for Big Sam’s side, who now face Ipswich Town on Tuesday evening, just two points adrift of pace-setting Southampton.
HAMMERS: Green, O’Brien, McCartney, Faye, Reid, Faubert (Bentley 66), M. Taylor (Tomkins 90+3), Noble, Nolan, Lansbury, Cole (Carew 55). Unused: Boffin, Baldock.
POSH: Jones, Little, Alcock, Bennett, Zakuani, Tunnicliffe (Tomlin 46, P. Taylor 76), McCann, Rowe, Frecklington (Kearns 90+1), Boyd, Sinclair. Unused: Lewis, Wootton,
Booked: McCann (84). Lansbury (90+5).
Referee: Tony Bates. Attendance: 29,895