Noble efforts lift Hammers to top spot

West Ham United 2 Nottingham Forest 1

Upton Park

West Ham reached the top of the Championship last night despite a performance which was conspicuously average. They beat Nottingham Forest2-1 thanks to two Mark Noble penalties, the first of which was a mystifying award at the end of an underwhelming first half.

The first 45 minutes were a perfect example of why, despite their top spot, the West Ham United fans are not yet fully enthused about the season. "It wasn't our best of days," said their manager, Sam Allardyce, "but when you can dig one out when you're not on your best form it shows the players' resilience and commitment."

West Ham's approach largely consisted of long diagonal balls to Kevin Nolan and Carlton Cole. Nolan nearly forced in George McCartney's near-post cross after 12 minutes, but there was lack of imagination about West Ham's attacking play. In his programme notes Allardyce bemoaned the fact that West Ham had scored just six goals in their previous eight games, and it was not difficult to see why.

Forest had their own goalscoring woes – they had failed to score in 10 of their previous 11 games – but their attacking play in the first half was surprisingly skilful. Finishing, not creating, was their problem. Marcus Tudgay missed his first chance after 10 minutes, shooting over from a corner. Three minutes later Lewis McGugan arrived on to Chris Gunter's cross but shot over. Soon after, Tudgay had a shot from a similar position deflected over. "We could have been 2-0 or 3-0 up," their manager, Steve Cotterill, claimed.

With so many chances missed it seemed unlikely to be Forest's day, an impression reinforced in first-half stoppage time. Guy Moussi blocked Jack Collison's right-wing cross from close range, and, to the surprise of the whole stadium, a penalty kick was awarded.

"It's blatantly not a penalty," Cotterill said afterwards. Even Allardyce described it as "quite fortunate". Mark Noble, characteristically reliable, gave West Ham a lead their play had not deserved.

Forest's confidence was as fragile as could be expected: once behind, they offered little in the second half. West Ham, who announced that James Tomkins has signed a new long-term contract, started to improve: Jack Collison could not reward a delightful run with a finish to match, and Henri Lansbury forced a springing save from Lee Camp.

Two minutes later another ball into Forest's box bemused Gunter, who could only stop it with a hand. This time the award was in keeping with the run of play, and Noble's conversion was again precise.

With a two-goal lead, there was little question of West Ham failing to complete the victory which would send them top, even after Forest scored a late consolation. Having missed easier chances when it mattered, McGugan contrived a brilliant but meaningless goal, hammering the ball in left-footed from 25 yards in stoppage time.

West Ham United (4-3-1-2) Green; Faubert, Tomkins, Reid, McCartney; Noble, Bouba Diop (Lansbury, h-t), Collison; Nolan; Baldock (Hall, 78), Cole (Piquionne, 85).

Nottingham Forest (4-3-1-2) Camp; Gunter, Morgan, Lynch, Cunningham (Anderson, 23); Moussi, McGugan, Greening (Blackstock, 56); McCleary; Harewood (Miller, 73), Tudgay.

Referee: Anthony Bates

Man of the match: Tomkins (West Ham)

Match rating: 3/10

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?