This was the sweetest of victories for Glenn Roeder on his first return to West Ham United after being sacked three years ago - but one that provoked the bitterest of responses. There was also a worrying injury to Shay Given who was taken to hospital, and was kept in last night, after being hurt in an ugly, late challenge by Marlon Harewood. The goalkeeper was taken off on a stretcher and an ambulance was called after he complained of abdominal pains.
Second-half goals by Damien Duff and the outstanding Obafemi Martins - the first scored by either player for Newcastle - capped their side's best performance of the season so far and certainly West Ham's worst. Both of the latter's Argentinian internationals, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherno, struggled and were withdrawn.
During a break in play, Roeder responded a bit too enthusiastically to his name being chanted by the visiting supporters. The way he clapped and then punched the air, time and time again, more and more emphatically as the home boos reached an angry crescendo, betrayed a sense of simmering resentment over his departure.
It was met with seething vitriol. A dozen West Ham fans tried to scale the advertising hoardings to reach Roeder while, eventually, the home supporters chanted in apparent unison: "You're the reason we went down." Eventually the referee, Rob Styles, along with stewards and police, spoke to Roeder who later made a qualified apology "if I upset the West Ham crowd". He added: "All I did was wave. If that caused a problem I apologise. It was completely unintentional. My supporters are entitled to my acknowledgement."
In truth the West Ham fans were fuelled by their growing frustration - with Roeder a mere distraction. Any sense of cracking open the champagne with the arrival of Tevez and Mascherano has been shelved. It is now three games, one goal and two defeats since they arrived. The bubbles have gone flat.
Tevez was taken off at half-time as a tactical change with the manager, Alan Pardew, saying: "He showed moments for us". Indeed, there were a few neat flicks and touches, capped by a brilliantly curled free-kick which thudded back off the crossbar early on, but Tevez is struggling to fit in. Mascherano looked even more off the pace and frequently surrendered possession, or was caught ball-watching, before being going off at the two-thirds mark.
"We cannot lose what we are about," Pardew again stressed. "Speed and spirit and attacking people. We just look apprehensive at the moment. We have handled the transition as best we can but we cannot get away from the fact that we are in a transition period." He will spend this week trying to shake his players -with Danny Gabbidon and Harewood shadows of what they were - out of their torpor.
With confidence still fragile for both teams, who played midweek Uefa Cup matches, the first goal was even more vital. In the first-half, each of Newcastle's strikers missed the clearest of opportunities. First, Martins dragged his shot wide, when clear on goal, after the ball was squeezed through by Shola Ameobi following a tangle with Gabbidon.
Then Ameobi was culpable. Once more West Ham failed to deal with a corner with anything approaching decisiveness and the ball was headed back into the six-yard area. Ameobi volleyed, but failed to connect properly, and Roy Carroll smothered.
For West Ham, apart from the Tevez free-kick, there was a spectacular effort by Lee Bowyer, playing against the club he left in the summer. The midfielder gathered Given's mis-hit clearance, just inside the Newcastle half and near the touchline, and instantly sent the ball goal-wards back over the goalkeeper's head only for it to bounce a foot outside the post.
After the break and Newcastle made the breakthrough. As West Ham attacked, the ball bounced over Mascherano's head and Martins latched on to it. He ran from inside his own half and slipped an alert pass to Duff who drilled a low shot under Carroll. It was a pacy, opportunistic strike also aided by West Ham's ponderous defending.
If that was poor then Newcastle's second was born of a glaring error by Gabbidon who allowed the ball to roll under his foot and was then dispossessed by Martins who ran through to calmly beat Carroll and seal the victory.
Goals: Duff (50) 0-1; Martins (76).
West Ham United (4-4-2): Carroll; Mears (Mullins, 67), Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Konchesky; Bowyer, Mascherano (Benayoun, 67), Reo-Coker, Etherington; Tevez (Harewood, h-t), Zamora. Substitutes not used: Green (gk), Cole.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given (Harper, 87); Carr, Ramage, Moore, Babayaro; Milner, Parker, Emre (Butt, 90), Duff; Martins, Ameobi (Sibierski, 72). Subtitutes not used: N'Zogbia, Rossi.
Bookings: West Ham Mears, Harewood, Konchesky; Newcastle Babayaro, Moore, Parker.
Referee: R Styles (Waterlooville).
Man of the match: Martins.
Attendance: 34,938.Reuse content