Match Report: At last Andy Carroll does what Sam Allardyce brought him in for as West Ham United beat Swansea City
West Ham United 1 Swansea City 0
This is how Andy Carroll's West Ham United career was meant to be. Five months after arriving on loan from Liverpool, the big striker finally made a meaningful difference at the Boleyn Ground yesterday. Carroll dominated Swansea City throughout and scored the game's only goal with 13 minutes left.
There was frustration and some worry as this game, in which West Ham created all the chances, drifted towards a goalless conclusion. After the last home game, which West Ham drew 1-1 with Queens Park Rangers after desperate profligacy in front of goal, there was real fear of a repeat.
"My mind cast back to QPR, in terms of chances created," said the West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, "when 5-1 would not have been an unfair score."
But, just as anxiety started to fester, Joe Cole won a corner on the left hand side. Mark Noble curled it in and Carroll (left) shrugging off the imposing Ashley Williams, leaped, hung in the air and hammered the ball with his forehead past Gerhard Tremmel in the Swansea goal. It was the type of traditional centre-forward's goal in which Carroll specialises, with which he reminds English football what it used to look like.
This was just Carroll's second goal for West Ham and his first outing for two months. But this felt like a new start for his time here, as he pushed around Williams and Chico Flores throughout.
Carroll made two good chances for Kevin Nolan in the first half, as West Ham's assertive game proved more effective than Swansea's slightly too nuanced approach. Michu, starting up front, was barely in the game with Pablo Hernandez their only real threat.
Tremmel saved from two Nolan volleys and Ricardo Vaz Te in the first half before denying Vaz Te again soon after the break. As West Ham pushed Swansea further back, Carroll skied a shot from Matt Jarvis's pass and Mohamed Diamé did the same from Vaz Te's cross, before Carroll finally did the necessary.
"As long as he can stay fit and get as many games as he can and build his goal tally up he can finish the season on a high," Allardyce said. "The start has been very disappointing for him, but if he can finish the next 13 games on a high that would be great for us and great for him."
Swansea never looked like scoring at 0-0 but once they went behind, and had Luke Moore and Nathan Dyer on, they were more threatening. Keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen had to save from Ki Sung-Yueng and Ben Davies while Dyer had a shot deflected onto the post.
Michael Laudrup was fairly philosophical afterwards, despite the frustration of their first defeat in seven. "We just have to accept it," he said. "We are very difficult to beat and nobody likes to lose. When you get used to not losing, it is very nice."
West Ham have not had that luxury, having taken five points from their last eight games, so this result was more than welcome. "We were under big pressure today to produce a result after the last eight games," a delighted Sam Allardyce said afterwards. "We have hit the 30-point total, which is a great relief. We should be looking up now not behind us, see how far we can get up the league if we can."
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