West Brom vs West Ham match report: Kevin Nolan and James Tomkins inspire Hammers' fightback

West Brom 1 West Ham 2

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The Independent Online

West Ham continue to make their presence felt at the top end of the Premier League, coming from behind to increase the pressure on West Brom head coach Alan Irvine, whose side are down to 16th place after winning only once of their last eight matches.

Albion took an early lead but found themselves behind before half-time to headed goals by Kevin Nolan and James Tomkins. West Ham were happy to sit back and defend their lead in the second half and despite a spirited rally Irvine’s team ultimately suffered a fourth consecutive defeat. 

The West Ham fans had tongues in cheeks when they chanted ‘We’re going to win the league’ but they remain in fifth place, a point behind Manchester United.

Craig Dawson’s 10th-minute goal had been just the start Irvine wanted to bring the Hawthorns crowd onside after some spectators gave vent to their frustrations at a poor run of form during last Saturday’s home defeat against Arsenal.

 

It came after Tomkins had fouled Victor Anichebe outside the penalty area on the left. The free kick by Graham Dorrans was nicely flighted and Dawson rose unmarked to direct a header wide of Adrian.

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Dawson puts West Brom in front with a header

Albion were thus rewarded for a bright start but their grip on the match soon began to slip as West Ham, yet to keep a clean sheet away from home, sought to make amends. The injury to Diafra Sakho means they are still without their leading scorer but the return of Andy Carroll gives them a new dimension and the England striker was involved when the London side equalised in the 35th minute, following a series of shaky moments in the Albion defence.

Goalkeeper Ben Foster did well to keep out Carroll’s overhead kick as West Ham maintained a spell of sustained pressure but could only parry the ball and Nolan, typically alive to the half-chance, nodded home the rebound.

Encouraged by their dominance, West Ham pushed on in search of more gains and by half-time were in front. Foster saved well from Cheikhou Kouyate but from the resulting corner, central defender Tomkins headed his first goal in more than two years.

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Nolan celebrates his goal

 

An injury to Chris Brunt just before the second goal forced Albion to reorganise, with Youssuf Mulumbu coming into midfield. What was needed was a change of mindset from the home side, who had been under the cosh since they went ahead, although they could have been level seven minutes after the restart when Saido Berahino’s miskick dropped invitingly at the feet of Dawson. The defender proved less effective with his feet than his head, however, scuffing his shot wide from 10 yards.

Nonetheless, Albion looked more positive and when Stephane Sessegon slipped Anichibe through on goal it took a solid save from Adrian to prevent a goal. With 20 minutes left, West Ham were increasingly looking to protect their advantage against a side with only three wins in their last 21 home matches. Albion finished strongly, with Anichebe and Dorrans going close, but the Hammers rearguard held firm.

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