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Andy Carroll gave West Ham United’s fight against relegation a much-needed shot in the arm by scoring the only goal against Swansea City to record just their second win of 2013. Making his first start since November, Carroll wore down the Swansea defence and stole away from his marker towards the end of the second half to head home Mark Noble’s corner for just his second goal in claret and blue. Swansea only sprung to life when Carroll’s goal went in and Michu had a rare off-day playing on his own up front.
West Ham are not assured of safety but Allardyce will sleep better knowing their six-match winless streak has now come to an end. The manager will also be pleased his team recorded their first clean sheet since December 16. Allardyce’s men are now nine points above the relegation zone ahead of a tough run of fixtures against Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Chelsea.
West Ham’s plan to hit Carroll became apparent from the off. Winston Reid hit the ball up to the big striker in the fourth minute, he knocked it down to Kevin Nolan but he shot wide.
West Ham’s physical approach gave them the edge in midfield but Ricardo Vaz Te overdid it at one point, putting in a dangerous sliding tackle on Wayne Routledge that earned him a booking.
Swansea had most of the possession but West Ham were the more dangerous. Carroll found space after dropping deep and laid the ball off to Mohamed Diame, who drew a good save from Gerhard Tremmel. The Swansea goalkeeper was called into action soon after, saving Nolan’s shot with his feet.
Pablo Hernandez beat Matt Taylor with a series of twists and turns before sneaking into the box but the former Bolton Wanderers man tracked back to block his shot. West Ham continued to punt the ball long. Swansea found it hard to deal with Carroll, who knocked a Vaz Te pass into the path of Nolan, who drew a top save from Tremmel. The visitors went in level at half-time but only thanks to Tremmel, who once again pulled off a top-draw save to deny Vaz Te.
West Ham started the second half as they ended the first. A clever backheel from Matt Jarvis released Nolan, who pulled the ball back for Carroll but he blazed over. West Ham’s fans became annoyed at their failure to score. Hernandez then caused them even more angst with a long-range free-kick that Jussi Jaaskelainen did well to save.
Allardyce looked to Joe Cole for inspiration, the former Liverpool man coming on for Matt Jarvis. It looked as if the Hammers were destined to fail. Swansea’s defence held strong and the home side continued to waste their chances.
Diame was the next to miss, almost finding the second tier of the Bobby Moore stand with a shot from yet another Carroll knockdown. Another chance came and went moments later. Again Diame was the culprit, clearing Tremmel’s goal when unmarked in the box.
After missing so many chances, there was a huge sense of relief when Carroll finally broke the deadlock. The England striker lost Ashley Williams in the Swansea box and leapt high before powering Mark Noble’s corner past Tremmel.
Swansea looked for an immediate response. The Welsh side threw everything at the home goal, but Jaaskelainen was up to the challenge, putting in two vital stops in quick succession from Ki Sung-Yueng and Ben Davies. Swansea continued to push for an equaliser but it never came.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce: "It's just a pity it wasn't a bit more comfortable for us. We created some fantastic chances and you are always worried as a manager that any one slip, particularly against a team like Swansea who are relaxed and calm and cool, could see them nick one with someone like Michu on the pitch.
"I don't think anyone can argue the fact that, with the amount of chances we created, we thoroughly deserved this victory. It's a big, big three points we have been waiting for and we've now got it in the bag and got to that 30-point mark in the league.
"Andy and Kevin seem to have the knack of combining and linking together and getting chances. Andy scored from a set-piece and we emphasised to the lads that Swansea had conceded 67 per cent of their goals from set pieces. Now it'll be up to 70 per cent. The corner has made all the difference and Andy's aerial power has put the ball in the back of the net and got us the three points that we so desperately needed."
"Getting three points means I can sleep a bit easier now, never mind the players! What about me?! I'm glad that the phone is not ringing 60 or 70 times a day and my email isn't pinging. It's been unbelievable. Now, I'm going to have a nice glass of red wine!"
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup: “We do not like losing. We haven’t been used to it over the last six or seven weeks, but we have to accept it. Again we proved a very difficult team to beat today and you have to take the positives out of that because we are still talking about a team that’s only been in the Premier League for 18 months. It proves my team is very mature, which it’s great to see.
“We dominated possession quite well in the first-half, but it’s true they had two big chances through Kevin Nolan. Gerhard [Tremmel] made some nice saves, and that’s why he’s playing in there. Maybe when we dominated we didn’t create enough chances. We could and should have created a little more. We didn't have that last pass. I'm not happy with losing, but we didn't do anything specifically wrong and it could have gone either way.
"[Andy] Carroll scored a great goal, but we pushed hard in the last 10 minutes and had two or three chances. We still have 13 games to play in the league and plenty of points to play for. We just have to prepare now. It is completely different from now on because we only have games at weekend after a very busy period. It means we can prepare much better."
|10 Feb 2013||v Aston Villa (A)|
|25 Feb 2013||v Spurs (H)|
|02 Mar 2013||v Stoke (A)|
|17 Mar 2013||v Chelsea (A)|
|30 Mar 2013||v West Brom (H)|
|07 Apr 2013||v Liverpool (A)|