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

header.

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.