Newcastle United 5 West Ham United 0
By Chris Morley
Thursday 06 Jan 2011 15:20:00
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A lot of the talk before the game centred around manager Avram Grant perhaps drinking in the last chance saloon. If that is the case, surely we can only presume that he downed his last pint and left shortly before kick off. And what football's answer to Waldorf & Statler from the ' Muppet Show', Davids Gold & Sullivan, made of the performance from the Hammers is not yet known, though I would hazard a guess that they may have borrowed one of the Muppet duo's better exchanges- ' That wasn't half bad. No, it was all bad!'.

Just one save was required of Magpies keeper Steve Harper in the opening 45 minutes as Scott Parker's shot was kept out, with the rest of his team seemingly hell bent on stopping the opposition getting anything. But a paper thin resistance was finally cut through by Leon Best in his first full league start with just eighteen minutes played, slotting home with ease from Peter Lovenkrands's pass after the preceding minutes had suggested a bright enough start for the Hammers, a succession of set pieces coming to nothing.

James Tomkins had been the hero in stopping Best from scoring earlier, cutting out a Joey Barton cross before Best headed wide from a second attempt from just ten yards.

Even at this early stage play was dominated by Newcastle as the Irons could only stumble through an uneventful first 45 minutes of football, capped with a second goal for Best on the cusp of the forty minute mark and Kevin Nolan's predatory strike after he had capitalised on a poor Tomkins clearance just prior to the whistle.

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Following the interval it was hard to tell what might happen- would the under pressure Grant deliver the mother of all motivational speeches to his wilting troops, causing them to come out with renewed vigour? Or would they continue to slip their boss closer to the sack? The answer, cruelly for those hardy fans who had travelled from East London to the heart of Geordie- land, was sadly the second of those two options.

Not that this will have troubled former boss Alan Pardew, now in the dugout at St James's Park, with Best rewarding his decision to stick with him on the hour mark as he stabbed home a third goal, Nolan turning provider as his flick on caught both Tomkins and Danny Gabbidon napping and Best firing home from the edge of the area. And clearly sleep overcame them again just three minutes later- Lovenkrands the no doubt grateful beneficiary as he got on the end of another Barton cross to make it five and heap misery on the travelling fans, who are no doubt bracing themselves for the Championship after a good run of festive form gave them the chance to dare to dream of a life outside the bottom three.

Dreams which were nearly snatched from them when Nile Ranger did his best to add a sixth goal to cap off a great night for the hosts, but his shot went wide, not that it mattered much with the majority of the work done. At this point, having waited around eighty five minutes to actually start playing a bit, Carlton Cole saw two efforts saved, one an ambitious overhead kick and the other an equally fierce strike from range, which to all and sundry must have looked like it had all the bite and tenacity of a poodle when the Hammers needed a terrier.

What will follow this abject showing? Perhaps Grant will now be forced to bite the bullet, but will that be enough? One thing is certain, the West Ham United circus rolls on- returning to home territory for an FA Cup clash with Barnsley on Saturday.


Newcastle United- Harper (gk), Coloccini, Enrique, Simpson, Taylor ( Williamson 46), Nolan, Barton, Gutierrez ( Ferguson 66), Tiote, Lovenkrands, Best ( Ranger 64)

Subs not used- Krul (gk), Guthrie, Perch, Routledge

West Ham United- Green (gk), Ben-Haim, Gabbidon, Tomkins, Upson, Parker, Kovac ( Obinna 46), Noble ( Hines 70), Sears, Cole, Piquionne ( Behrami 46)

Subs not used- Boffin (gk), Barrera, Reid, Spector 

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