McClean on target but Carroll and West Ham have last laugh

Striker scores twice in the second half to secure all three points against West Brom

West Bromwich Albion’s James McClean celebrates scoring their first goal with Jonny Evans during the Premier League game against West Ham at the London Stadium. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

West Bromwich Albion’s James McClean celebrates scoring their first goal with Jonny Evans during the Premier League game against West Ham at the London Stadium. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

 

West Ham 2 West Brom 1

It was the most dramatic of endings. Most people inside the London Stadium had given up hope of seeing a winning goal and West Ham United were contemplating the disappointment of wasting yet another opportunity against one of their relegation rivals. Andy Carroll had other ideas, however, and suddenly Adrián, West Ham’s goalkeeper, was running the length of the pitch to slide across the grass and join in the demented celebrations.

Carroll had not scored since last April. Having cancelled out James McClean’s strike, however, he saved his best till last, converting Marko Arnautovic’s low cross in stoppage time to lift West Ham out of the bottom three and leave West Brom heartbroken.

After enjoying the rare luxury of a week off, the onus was on West Ham to make a forceful start against opponents who had been given little time to recover from their fortunate draw with Arsenal on Sunday. The increasingly weird inconsistencies of the scheduling over the festive period had worked in the favour of Moyes’s side, at least in theory, and West Brom had every right to be annoyed about a situation which did not reflect too well on the league’s sense of fair play.

However, West Ham are one of the division’s more leaden teams, especially when they are deprived of Michail Antonio’s dynamism, and the visitors were not particularly stretched by a succession of early crosses in the general direction of Carroll. West Brom’s threat was diminished by the loss during the warm-up of Matty Phillips and his enterprising wing play, forcing Alan Pardew to bring Jake Livermore into a workmanlike midfield, but they were in a mood to spoil, trusting that the home fans would become edgy if the game stayed goalless for a while.

Their impressive levels of organisation frustrated West Ham and Salomón Rondón had the first sight of goal in the 13th minute, shrugging off Angelo Ogbonna before trying a chip from 20 yards. The stranded Adrián was relieved to see the ball drift over, but the way that Winston Reid backed off Rondón did not inspire confidence in West Ham’s ability to keep a clean sheet.

Reid has been poor this season and he will not want to remember his part in McClean’s opener after half an hour. The centre back sold himself with a cumbersome lunge, allowing McClean to skip past him on the left, drive inside and shoot from 25 yards. Heavily criticised for his careless own goal against Arsenal, the winger was delighted to see his effort hit Pedro Obiang and spin over Adrián’s despairing dive.

West Ham trudged off to boos at the interval. Manuel Lanzini had two fierce efforts saved by Ben Foster, but Carroll was struggling to make an impact on his first start since November 24th.

They had placed themselves in an unenviable position. West Brom might not be easy on the eye, but they know how to defend and dig in and get their bodies in the way. Breaking them down would require patience and there were howls of anguish when Carroll stretched to turn Arnautovic’s cross over from close range at the start of the second half.

But Carroll was starting to fancy his chances despite that miss and he finally showed that there remains a spring in his legs when he leapt to meet Aaron Cresswell’s cross in the 59th minute. The 28-year-old has cut an angry, surly figure in recent months, but this was him at his best, a reminder of better times as he bullied Jonny Evans and Kieran Gibbs, muscling both defenders out of the way and flexing those neck muscles to direct a low header past Foster.

West Ham had ample time to find a winner and Arnautovic went close after being played in by Lanzini. Then it was West Brom’s turn to threaten. Rondón released Oliver Burke and time stood still until Ogbonna’s brilliant saving challenge denied the substitute. Burke would later send a volley over. How he would rue that miss. – Guardian service

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