Carroll brace in Hammers win

Two goals from Andy Carroll helped West Ham take a step towards

Premier League safety with a 3-1 win over West Brom.

The on-loan striker opened the scoring with a powerful header

from a corner, with Gary O’Neil doubling the lead inside 30

minutes.

Carroll’s deft finish put the Hammers clear and, although Graeme

Dorrans pulled one back, West Brom finished with 10 men when

Youssouf Mulumbu was sent off in stoppage-time.

West Ham were playing on home turf for the first time since the

confirmation of their move away from the Boleyn Ground to the

Olympic Stadium.

Maintaining their Premier League status between now and August

2016 is of the utmost importance, and three of the five points Sam

Allardyce had targeted from their remaining nine games would go a

long way to allaying any nagging fears of a swift return to the

Championship.

A lively start saw both sides exchange chances before Carroll

did open the scoring. Ricardo Vaz Te wasted an opening when he

lashed a volley to the right of the post, and West Brom saw a goal

rightfully disallowed when Gareth McAuley bundled the ball in at a

corner, having collided with Jussi Jaaskelainen in the process.

The home keeper then made a brilliant save that doubled in value

shortly afterwards. Romelu Lukaku’s free-kick took a deflection

that wrong-footed the former Bolton veteran, but he flung out his

right hand to touch the ball onto the post and back into his

hands.

When Carroll rose above the West Brom defence to head the ball

past a helpless Ben Foster, Jaaskelainen’s save was put into

context, and Mohamed Diame went close to doubling the lead seconds

later with a rasping shot that tore past a static Foster to go just

over the bar.

Matt Jarvis shot over from close range, but West Ham did add to

their lead on 28 minutes through a rapid counter-attack from a West

Brom corner. Vaz Te teased the West Brom defence before finding

O’Neil, who looped the ball across and beyond Foster with a sublime

finish.

The hosts stayed in control until the break, but West Brom were

a different proposition afterwards. Lukaku looked more like his old

forceful self, but it was defender Billy Jones who went closest to

scoring, driving into the box and forcing Jaaskelainen to smother

his poked shot just a few yards out.

The arrival of Peter Odemwingie, booed by some West Brom fans

for his recent Twitter outburst, upped the Baggies’ tempo and the

home fans were becoming anxious when Carroll settled the match with

a moment of outstanding skill.

James Collins’ free-kick dropped over the striker’s right

shoulder, and as he moved away from Jonas Olsson, Carroll volleyed

the ball back across and past Foster for his fourth goal in four

games.

West Brom pulled one back with two minutes to go from the

penalty spot after Lukaku had been caught by Matt Taylor and

Winston Reid. Graham Dorrans fired the ball past Jaaskelainen, but

the game ended badly for West Brom when Mulumbu lashed the ball in

frustration at a West Ham player after conceding a free-kick deep

into stoppage-time.

Referee Andre Marriner showed the midfielder a straight red

card, meaning he will miss the next three games as West Brom’s

hopes of European football next season receded further.