Hammers claim top spot as Forest felled
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 22 Jan 2012 13:18:00
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West Ham United are unbeaten in the league this year after recording their third win in a row and picking up their third double of the season to go top of the league as they beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 at Upton Park on Saturday afternoon.

Robert Green made his 200th appearance in goal, while it was also a landmark for James Tomkins as he made his 100th appearance in a team that showed just one change from the side that were victorious at Fratton Park. Joey O'Brien picked up a knock last weekend, so Julien Faubert was moved into defence and Sam Baldock came in to partner Carlton Cole upfront.

Minutes before kick-off it was announced that Tomkins had signed a new four-year deal, keeping him at the club until 2016 with the option for a further year.

Forest had a great chance to go ahead just nine minutes in, when Chris Gunter's cross was blocked behind for a corner. From the resulting kick, Marcus Tudgay lost his marker and made a complete mess of the shot, blazing it over from 14 yards out.

Three minutes later West Ham had a chance, this time Cole lost his marker and found McCartney in space. The Northern Irishman crossed into the box but his ball just eluded both captain Kevin Nolan and Baldock. Green punched away for a throw.

A minute had passed and the home side had to survive another scare when Gareth McCleary's cross just cleared the crossbar.

Minutes before the break, Papa Bouba Diop picked up a hamstring injury and on the stroke of half-time was replaced by Henri Lansbury. As the half entered stoppage time, the hosts were awarded a penalty after Guy Moussi handled Jack Collison's cross. Mark Noble produced the same result as he did seven days earlier and the Hammers took the lead going into the break.

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The second half got underway a little later than normal and Forest again had a great chance in the early stages. Gunter was set up by a sliding tackle from Nolan, but Green prevented any danger as he saved superbly. After that, they replaced Jonathan Greening with Dexter Blackstock.

Minutes later, Baldock set up Collison who went on a superb run for shooting from ten yards out. His shot went just over the bar and out for a corner. Lansbury collected the ball from the corner and his half volley was superbly saved by Forest stopper Lee Camp.

Just after the hour mark, another handball decision was given against the visitors, presenting the Hammers with a chance to go further ahead again from the spot. Noble did the rest and the home side were now looking comfortable. Minutes later, he could have claimed his hat-trick but his low shot went yards wide of the far post.

On 74 minutes, the advantage could have been increased when Cole set up Baldock whose shot was saved by Camp, only for Collison to follow up and slice wide of the open goal.

Five minutes later, Big Sam made another change as Baldock was replaced by Robert Hall.

With five minutes of normal time to play, Hall was straight into the action as he lost his marker before being fouled by Gunter, who was then booked for the challenge and a freekick was given. However, before it could be taken, Big Sam replaced Cole with Frederic Piquionne.

There was just time for Forest to pull a goal back as the game went into three minutes of stoppage time. This time Luis McGugan unleashed a cracker which looped into the net past Green, but there was no time for them to find an equaliser as the final whistle blew to send East Londoners top - at least until Southampton play on Monday. The Hammers now have a week off as they are no longer involved in the FA Cup, meaning their next game is the trip to Portman Road to face Ipswich Town on Tuesday 31st January.

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