Nolan double downs Swans
Published 01/02/2014 | 15:07
Andy Carroll twice set up goals for Kevin Nolan before being sent off as 10-man West Ham beat Swansea to ease their relegation predicament.
The England striker, making his third start of the season and long heralded as the Hammers' likely saviour by manager Sam Allardyce, twice provided cushioned headers for Nolan to score in a 2-0 Premier League win at Upton Park.
Carroll caused chaos in the visiting defence, but 14 minutes into the second half received a straight red card from referee Howard Webb for an altercation with Chico Flores, after appearing to brush the defender with his elbow.
He now faces a three-match suspension, but an appeal from the Hammers is likely after Allardyce's men claimed a first Premier League home win since November 30 against Fulham.
The Hammers' only other league win in the intervening period was at Cardiff last month, when Carroll made his long-awaited return off the bench, and it appears Allardyce's men like playing Welsh opposition.
Swansea's slide was slowed by the defeat of Fulham in midweek as an eight-match winless run was brought to an end, but their position has become increasingly precarious in recent months and they are now just two points better off than the Hammers.
West Ham began the day in the relegation zone, but buoyed by Wednesday's goalless draw at Chelsea, after which Jose Mourinho accused Allardyce of deploying 19th-century tactics.
George McCartney replaced Joey O'Brien (shoulder) and Matt Jarvis came in for Mohamed Diame (knee) in two enforced changes, while Carroll made his third start of the season after playing 45 minutes against Manchester City and 60 at Stamford Bridge following his heel injury.
The first time a meaningful string of passes was put together, there was a goal.
West Ham broke from deep and left-back McCartney drilled a cross into the area which Carroll stretched to reach.
His header found the late-arriving Nolan, who chested the ball down before volleying into the bottom corner.
It was a goal made in Newcastle in a link up Allardyce has been desperate to see all season.
Swansea had an opportunity to respond when Jonjo Shelvey found Wilfred Bony with a bouncing ball.
James Tomkins was the last defender and he timed his challenge well to deny Bony, who was waiting for the ball to drop for a shot.
Shelvey shot wide and Ashley Williams blasted over as Swansea again failed to test Adrian as they struggled to contain Carroll at the other end.
Carroll forced the corner which resulted in the second.
Stewart Downing's inswinging cross was met at the far post by Carroll, who craned his neck enough to direct the ball back into the six-yard box and Nolan headed it inside the post to double his tally for the season.
Shelvey had been marking the post, but the ball beat him.
Swansea clearly had not worked out how to deal with Carroll, whose participation came to an abrupt end.
Flores was climbing all over Carroll as they tangled in trying to meet an aerial ball near the halfway line.
As the striker threw the defender off his back, the Swansea man felt contact and went down theatrically.
Carroll was shown red by Webb, marched down the tunnel in disgust and Allardyce exchanged words with Flores on the touchline after the Spaniard had received treatment.
Flores and Webb were roundly booed thereafter.
Defender Winston Reid came off the bench to feature for the first time since November 2 following ankle surgery, with Allardyce expecting a late onslaught from the visitors.
But Bony clipped substitute Alejandro Pozuelo's cross over and there was no late rally for Michael Laudrup's visitors as Upton Park celebrated a rare win and ensured Flores was aware of the scoreline.