Shaun Newton has urged West Ham to maintain the standards demonstrated in the second half of their victory at Aston Villa and revive their season after a wobbly festive programme.
Alan Pardew's side had taken only one point from their previous five matches and another defeat was looming at Villa Park after being outplayed in the opening 45 minutes and trailing to substitute Lee Hendrie's header. But it was a different story after the break as goals from Bobby Zamora and Marlon Harewood - from the penalty spot - enabled the Hammers to complete a deserved double over David O'Leary's side and cement their spot in the top half of the Premiership. Villa, in contrast, have been sucked back into the bottom six despite suffering only their second reversal in the last 10 league games.
Newton said: "It was good to get our season back on track. We know we have not been putting in good performances and it showed in the first half at Villa. "But we turned it around and hopefully that result will kick-start our season. We had been falling below par and we've let teams get on top of us. "The gaffer had a few harsh words to say at half-time and in the second half we came out firing. We've got to take that attitude into the whole season now."
Newton admitted: "I don't know what has happened over the Christmas period but we've come through the other side now and we have got to look to the rest of the season. "We know it is going to be hard. We know we have got some big games coming up, but we've just got to sure we get the points on the board and make sure we are safe. "The Christmas period took its toll on us with game after game but we are professionals. We are used to that. We've been doing it for the last 10-12 years. "Now we've got our first win of 2006 in the league and hopefully we can push on. It is a massive win for us. Having suffered a row of defeats, we knew we had to get a win. "We don't want to be looking over our shoulder. We want to be looking ahead of us and chasing teams."
Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel admits he and his team-mates must reach a level of consistency which has been difficult to attain this season. They were outfought and outplayed in the second 45 minutes yesterday, and Angel said: "It was tale of two halves. The first half was great for us and then the second half was a totally different game and a totally different team. "We paid the price of that and that has been the reality of our season so far. We have been so inconsistent in our performance, which is why we are where we are. "If we had been more consistent, we wouldn't be in that position. We have got to get ourselves right.
"In this league you don't have the time to relax even for 20 minutes. We took the foot off the pedal for 15 minutes after half-time and we got done. "We have to be more consistent and be a bit more solid, especially at home, and try to get the same form we had during the Christmas period which was great. "We were happy then because we were performing well but against West Ham was not what we have been doing over the last four or five games." Unsettled Hendrie headed home a cross from Jlloyd Samuel for the opener but Zamora took advantage of slack marking to head the equaliser. Harewood, who had scored a hat-trick against Villa earlier in the season, sent Thomas Sorensen the wrong way from the spot after Mark Delaney had handled.
Goals: Hendrie (27) 1-0; Zamora (51) 1-1; Harewood (pen, 60) 2-1.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Sorensen; Delaney, Mellberg, Hughes, Samuel; Bakke (Hendrie, 12), Davis, McCann, Milner; Baros, Moore, (Angel, 60). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Ridgewell, Gardner.
West Ham United (4-4-2): Carroll; Repka, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Konchesky; Newton (Benayoun, 71), Mullins, Reo-Coker, Etherington (Dailly, 81); Harewood, Zamora (Katan, 74). Substitutes not used: Hislop (gk), Clarke.
Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).
Bookings: Aston Villa: Mellberg; West Ham: Harewood, Katan, Mullins.
Man of the match: Zamora.
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