West Ham vs Newcastle United report: Aaron Cresswell strikes for Hammers as Moussa Sissoko sees red

West Ham 1 Newcastle United 0

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The Independent Football

It will go down as an “assist” for Chiekhou Kouyate, but the Senegalese looked extremely sheepish when congratulated for setting up Aaron Cresswell for his match-winning goal.

Taking a square pass from Stewart Downing 20 yards from goal, Kouyate confidently lined up a shot, then horribly shanked it. As the midfielder turned away in embarrassment his skewed shot gently rolled into the path of Cresswell, who was making a speculative run forward. The left-back last scored in October, 46 matches ago, but he looked a born finisher as he steered the ball past the oncoming Robbie Elliot for the first strike of his West Ham career.

Both managers said they felt the first goal would be critical, and so it proved even though there were still 34 minutes left. Newcastle’s cause was not helped when Moussa Sissoko, hitherto their most impressive player, picked up two daft bookings in the 75th minute. After that their six-match winning run had little chance of continuing.

Victory enabled West Ham to leapfrog the visitors into the heady heights of fifth. “It was a massive victory for us,” said manager Sam Allardyce. “We got in some good positions but didn’t quite find the quality we have had in recent weeks,” said counterpart Alan Pardew.

It is five years since Allardyce was sacked by Newcastle after just eight months, and even longer since Pardew was fired by West Ham, so both men were more interested in taking three points rather than making one, not least because they are fixed on the present - only Arsène Wenger of current Premier League managers has survived longer.

Mauro Zarate holds off Sammy Ameobi

The value of such stability has been shown in the two clubs’ elevated positions. It also showed in the two teams’ defensive organisation. That, however, made for a soporific first half. With both sides pressing high up the pitch, and usually pushing their opponents back, opportunities were sparse. West Ham did not move the ball quick enough to open Newcastle up, the visitors had more zip in their attacks, but less care.  

In the opening minutes Ayoze Perez screwed a shot wide and Downing had one saved but thereafter the game was so tight there was not a clear chance until Cresswell scored. Even then the game did not really open up until Sissoko’s exit. Having first been booked for kicking the ball away in frustration after being pulled up for pushing James Tomkins, the France international was still simmering when Andy Carroll beat him to a loose ball despite lying on the ground. Sissoko followed through on the striker’s shin and received a second yellow.

Aaron Cresswell wheels away after scoring his first goal for the Hammers

“I have seen it on video and it doesn’t look too good,” said Pardew, “but he’s not a malicious player and I’m sure he will apologise to Andy.” Pardew shook Sissoko’s hand as he headed for the tunnel but  admitted he had not seen the foul clearly at the time. “I wanted to show to him it happens occasionally, but he has to learn from it.”

With Sissoko gone and Newcastle chasing the game gaps finally appeared and West Ham should have tied up the points, but Mauro Zarate, the excellent Tomkins, and Downing eschewed opportunities.

West Ham: (4-2-3-1): Adrian; Jenkinson, Tomkins, Collins, Cresswell; Kouyate (Nolan, 84), Noble; Amalfitano, Downing, Jarvis (Zarate, 70); Carroll.

Newcastle: (4-2-3-1) Elliot; Janmaat (Taylor, 74), Williamson, Dummett, Haidara; Tiote (Cissé, 62), Colback; Gouffran (Cabella, 62), Sissoko, Ameobi; Perez.

Referee: Mike Dean.

Man of the match: Tomkins (West Ham)

Match rating: 6/10