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Hammers stay rooted to bottom

A second half of mundane mediocrity was lit up by a superb winner from Newcastle's Andy Carroll who finished his troubled week the right way.

Joey Barton had earlier created Newcastle's opener and on 70 minutes when he unloaded another vicious cross that made a mug of Manuel da Costa and found Newcastle troubled No 9. His header offered Tim Krul no chance and secured three points to lift up the visitors into ninth position.

Carlton Cole had Newcastle's first opportunity in front of Krul's goal to evade a tackle and attempt a shot, but he was unable to create any space. Frederic Piquionne also whipped in a cross from his wide-right berth, but there was no colleague to apply the finish.

After 12 minutes this changed. The French forward mistimed a shot that became a cross and Cole came sliding in to tap home his first goal of the season, 10 games and two months after its start.

But before 25 minutes had elapsed Barton, playing on the right of Newcastle's midfield, produce a curving cross towards Robert Green's goal that was the ideal fodder for Carroll.

The striker rose up and his awkward blend of power, height and elbows defeated Da Costa, before the striker's head found Kevin Nolan. The Newcastle captain, who is now effectively Carroll's landlord due to a court order related to the assault charge, finished neatly for a deserved equaliser for Chris Hughton's team.

During the interval Grant may have told his team to play down Obinna's flank, as Danny Simpson, the Newcastle right-back, and Mike Williamson, the nearest central defender, had been made to look like pensioners by the Nigeria forward.

Hughton's ploy should have been to ask his wide players, Jonas Gutierrez -- who was anonymous throughout -- and Barton to raise more high balls towards Carroll's flying ponytail.

Hughton's plan worked. The 21-year-old's fifth goal of a debut Premier League season was his first since August 28. It gave Newcastle joy for the journey home, and kept Grant's men rooted to the bottom. They walked off to boos from the Upton Park fans and the future is not looking bright.


Sunday Independent