Vital win secured ahead of Tigers test
By Tom Dowsett
Thursday 15 Dec 2016 16:45:00
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After waiting so long to beat one of the newly-promoted clubs last season, West Ham United have already secured a first win over a newcomer this campaign by beating Burnley 1-0 in Stratford on Wednesday night to move up to 15th in the Premier League table.

Slaven Bilic made two changes from the 2-2 draw at Anfield on Sunday, as Cheikou Kouyate, who had missed the last two matches with a groin injury was thrown straight back into the starting line-up in place of Havard Nordtveit. Andy Carroll was also given a first start since the opening day and replaced Andre Ayew who along with Nordtveit dropped to the bench.

Hoping to go one better than they did against Liverpool at the weekend, the Hammers started brightly and could have grabbed an early advantage. Just two minutes in, Michail Antonio's cross picked out Andy Carroll, who almost made an immediate impact, but his header went narrowly wide.

Dimitri Payet is often instrumental in so much that West Ham create and he went close just four minutes later, but his effort was easy for Clarets' goalkeeper Tom Heaton to deal with.

After collecting just two points from a possible twelve, the home side were desperate for maximum points and continued to put their visitors under pressure and on 27 minutes, they thought they should have been awarded a penalty when Winston Reid's header appeared to touch the hand of defender Michael Keane but referee Robert Madley turned down their claims.

That seemed to spur the hosts on even more and on 35 minutes, they went very close to finding the breakthrough. Pedro Obiang's effort had Heaton beaten but unfortunately, the ball came back off the outside of the post.

Ten minutes later, it was a similar story, as a short Payet corner set up captain Mark Noble to try his luck with a right-footed curler but it just wasn't happening for the East Londoners.

With an additional two minutes added to the end of the half, West Ham were finally given the chance to go in front with the first penalty to be awarded at their new home, as Winston Reid was brought down by defender Ben Mee.

Noble stepped up to take it but Heaton saved, only for the rebound to come straight back out to the Hammers' skipper who was able to accept the gift and set his side on the way to a priceless three points.

The half-time whistle brought loud cheers from the majority inside the ground.

Burnley, who were looking for a first away win of the season came into the game as the action recommenced, but the Hammers stood in the way of everything they were throwing at them.

Firstly, an  overhead kick from Sam Vokes went just wide, before Sean Dyche's men went even closer and really should have equalised on the hour, when Scott Arfield saw his effort palmed away by Darren Randolph, only for Vokes to head over when he had an open goal to aim at.

Nine minutes later, West Ham made their first change, as Manuel Lanzini was replaced by Ayew.

Randolph, who atoned for his error against the Reds four days ago with a superb save was at it again here on 71 minutes, as he threw himself to his left to keep out a freekick from Arfield.

Bilic stated in his post-match interview with the BBC after the game that he had only intended to keep Carroll on the pitch for an hour, but on 82 minutes, Ashley Fletcher finally took his place.

Just six minutes later, the hosts introduced Nordtveit for the skipper.

Deep into five added minutes at the end of the contest, Ayew unleashed an effort that went inches wide before the victory was confirmed.

West Ham will now hope for a second consecutive win when another newly promoted side; Hull City are the next visitors to the East End on Saturday.

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