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.