Hammers back on track
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 18 Dec 2011 12:38:00
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West Ham United are now only behind leaders Southampton on goals scored. With the league leaders contesting the South Coast derby at Fratton Park on Sunday, the Hammers claimed a vital three points against Barnsley at Upton Park on Saturday afternoon.

Sam Allardyce made three changes from the debacle at Reading last weekend replacing the injured Guy Demel with Carlton Cole, while John Carew came in for Jack Collison who due to his sending off at the Madejski stadium last week, was serving the first  match of his three-game ban.

As the new mascot "Hammerhead" was being introduced to the sellout crowd, Abdoulaye Faye, who had undergone a fitness test earlier in the day, pulled up in the warm-up and so 17-year-old Dan Potts, who had only signed his first professional contract on Friday, replaced him. Henri Lansbury, who had been injured since 18 October returned to the bench.

The home side had started well applying most of the early pressure and it paid off on six minutes when Papa Bouba Diop sent a header flying past Luke Steele from Mark Noble's corner to claim his first goal for the club and his first goal in English football for six years.

On 19 minutes West Ham thought they should have had the chance to further increase their lead when Frederic Piquionne went down inside the area but nothing was given by referee Scott Mathieson.

Cole missed a golden chance to put the East Londoners 2-0 up on 31 minutes when he latched onto a pass from Noble but just couldn't beat Steele and the chance was gone.

The Hammers had goalkeeper Robert Green to thank on 37 minutes when he made a smart save from Craig Davies.

Just before half-time Cole and Carew combined well to beat two Barnsley defenders to set up Noble who unfortunately sent his shot over the bar.

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Barnsley had started the second half the better of the two sides. In the early stages Green had to be alert to save well from Rob Edwards.

Seconds later, the Hammers came closest to increasing their lead when Cole cut into the box on his left foot but his deflected shot was easily dealt with by the Tykes' goalkeeper.

Big Sam made a change on 56 minutes as Carew couldn't continue because of pains in his back and was replaced by Freddie Sears.

On 68 minutes, just after Tykes' boss Keith Hill had made a double substitution, Allardyce then followed up by making a change of his own as he replaced Julien Faubert with Lansbury.

On 83 minutes, the Hammers thought they should have been awarded a second penalty when Sears was brought down in the area, again nothing was given by Mathieson although Allardyce clearly thought it was and was sent to the stands after he had kicked a bottle in frustration. Thankfully it wasn't a West Ham player who received a red card this week!!!

Right on 90 minutes the sponsors' man of the match was announced as Kevin Nolan. The crowd greeted this decision with a chorus of boos and thought it should be given to the youngster Potts.

After five minutes of stoppage time, West Ham's return to winning ways was confirmed. They now have two away games over the Christmas period starting with a trip to St Andrews to face Birmingham City on Boxing Day.

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