Match Report: West Ham United's ‘Emotional’ Kevin Nolan returns to haunt Newcastle, the club he loves

Newcastle United 0 West Ham United 1

st James' Park

There is often a circularity to football: Newcastle were 11th when Mike Ashley sacked Sam Allardyce; Allardyce was back at St James’ Park as manager of West Ham yesterday; and Kevin Nolan, the former Newcastle captain who was sold 16 months ago, scored in the 38th minute.

It was a match-winning goal that moved his newly promoted side up to sixth in the table. Nolan pounced at the Gallowgate End, where many of the 30 goals he scored during his two and a half years at the club were scored. For the first time, he did not celebrate.

Andy Carroll, the forward who was sold by Newcastle for £35m to Liverpool and who was hounded relentlessly on his return last season with the Reds, was a makeshift third central defender late on for West Ham, and chested a 94th-minute cross back to his goalkeeper. He ended up man-marking Demba Ba, the centre-forward who was signed to replace him. Carroll also almost scored, after having been set up by Nolan.

“It was a perfect scenario for me to score the winner,” said Nolan. “It was quite emotional when I did score the goal: I had a little moment with Mark Noble afterwards. I did say I was never going to celebrate scoring against Newcastle and I never will. I love Newcastle and love everything about it – I made so many friends here along with my family. My boy is a Geordie, he was born here.

“That was down to the support I received when I was here. I’m just delighted for us because it got us the result and it moves us further up the table and it keeps us in the mix really.

“What we’re trying to do at West Ham is what we tried to do at Newcastle. When we came up it was about getting them back to where they belonged and then eventually into Europe. That’s what I feel that West Ham should do.”

Yesterday’s defeat left Newcastle 10th in the Premier League, one place higher than when Allardyce departed, back in January 2008.

The dismissal almost led Allardyce to quit management. He was encouraged to do so by his wife. He felt it was his one shot at one of England’s big clubs, and in eight months it ended.

Victory, although he did not admit it, will always be more special when he returns to St James’ Park. That is human nature.

Instead, he chose to focus on the performance and the resounding form this season of Nolan, whose goal was his fifth in the Premier League since the club returned to England’s elite.

“It’s our captain who is our leading scorer, who has got us the points with the goal,” he said. “His instinct in front of goal is there for us all to see. That’s five goals in 11 games now, for a midfielder and captain to get that tally is fantastic.

“Kevin’s relationship with Andy [Carroll] is such a good one, I don’t need to do a lot of coaching with those two. Kevin will instinctively play off Andy and vice-versa. That combination is causing lots of problems. We have 18 points after 11 games and that is an outstanding start.”

That is beyond dispute. As indeed was their superiority. This game was symptomatic of two things: West Ham’s growing power and belief, and Newcastle’s disjointed campaign. After 11 games no one is sure if they are doing well or badly. What Everton are doing this season, Newcastle did last, challenging to be in the top six. It raised expectations, and so far, in the Premier League, they have not been met.

Mohamed Diame was a force in midfield that Newcastle could not stop. Nolan’s wit and invention saw him score, go close twice and tee up Carroll in the 72nd minute with a chance that, but for Tim Krul’s brilliant right-handed save, would have brought serious consternation down from the St James’ Park stands.

Hatem Ben Arfa probed and saw a shot saved well by Jussi Jaaskelainen, low to his left. The goalkeeper then denied Ba in the 47th minute, although there was a half-hearted appeal that it had gone over the line.

In there somewhere is the fact that Newcastle were forced to live off the scraps, and they are clearly not the same side as last season.

“It is proving difficult to get into the rhythm at home,” admitted manager Alan Pardew. “Away from home we have been strong and dogged without pulling up trees. At home we need to perform better than we did today.

“I didn’t think Europe had much impact here. We played a different side. We have only had a couple of days to prepare, but I don’t want to make the Europa League an excuse. We had a good mindset today and we just didn’t click.”

It is November, and it still feels as though Newcastle, who finished fifth last season, are yet to do that. West Ham, on the other hand, continue to grow in belief.

Bookings: NU Ben Arfa. WH Noble, O’Brien

Man of match Nolan

Match rating 6/10.

Possession: NU 50%. WH 50%

Ref M Dean (Merseyside)

Att 51,855

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat