Nolan hat-trick sinks Reading
A hat-trick from Kevin Nolan helped West Ham beat Reading 4-2 in
their final game of the season after the hosts had allowed a
two-goal lead to slip before seeing off their opponents.
Nolan was the obvious star, having a hand in all four West Ham
goals, but Andy Carroll also impressed in what may be his last game
for the club. On this evidence, the club will surely do all they
can to retain his services, and West Ham’s fans sung for his
signing throughout the match.
However, Sam Allardyce will have been dismayed by letting a
two-goal lead to slip, with Garath McCleary and Adam Le Fondre
goals turning around the game after the break.
The game started brightly, with Carroll knocking an early effort
wide of target whilst on the stretch, but it was Jussi Jaaskelainen
who made the first save, diving to claw out a Pavel Pogrebnyak
The opening goal came midway through the first half in bizarre
fashion. Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, called up by England in
midweek, dallied on the ball and his clearance struck Carroll,
rebounding to Nolan who rolled the ball into an empty net.
Five minutes later and McCarthy made amends from the same
player, tipping Nolan’s header onto the bar from six yards, but ten
minutes before the break it was 2-0.
Carroll was again the man taking the plaudits after his fine
control allowed him to play the ball back to Ricardo Vaz Te and the
Portuguese’s shot deflected into the corner of the net.
There was still time for Vaz Te to come close to a second before
half-time. Again fed by Carroll, the forward crashed a shot against
the post with McCarthy beaten.
After the break, Reading came out strongly, and it took less
than ten minutes to get their goal when the ball found its way to
McCleary, whose deflected effort beat Jaaskelainen.
Two minutes later and they were level, Le Fondre crashing home
after a fine cross from Nick Blackman, the two half-time
substitutes combining brilliantly.
Reading barely deserved to be on level terms, and they could not
hold on despite their improvements. Nolan found himself through on
goal from a Mark Noble clipped pass, and slotted past McCarthy.
Five minutes from the end, and the Hammers clinched it, Nolan
getting his hat-trick from a header after Modibo Maiga’s cross
found him completely unmarked.