West Ham midfielder Gary O’Neil has revealed his delight at scoring his first goal in a year, a strike that helped the Hammers secure a 3-1 victory over West Brom on Saturday.
The 29-year-old’s curling right-footed strike just short of the half hour mark put the Hammers 2-0 up and sent them on their way to taking all three points, edging Sam Allardyce’s men closer to safety.
O’Neil’s goal, two years after a serious injury almost ended his career, was his first strike in the Premier League since he scored against West Ham for Middlesbrough in 2009, and he was delighted to finally end his goal drought.
"It was nice to see one go in," he told the club’s official website. "It's about two years to the week since I got my injury in the game against Aston Villa here, so it's nice to get a Premier League goal.
"It was similar to one I had up at their place this year that just missed the far post. I can't kick it as hard as some of the younger lads so I have to go for placement!
"We said before the game that it was a big game for us - not for safety reasons but for the targets we have set ourselves. We want be looking upwards and pushing into the top half if we can.
"It was a big game because West Brom have achieved that this year. They have had a fantastic season and are on 44 points - a fantastic tally - and it was fairly comfortable."
Injury to Mark Noble has seen O’Neil operate as a defensive midfielder in recent weeks, and though he enjoys the new role he admits it has taken some getting used to.
"I just have to be slightly more aware of the defensive side of things," O’Neil continued.
"Whereas when you are playing in one of the two more advanced positions you can get a bit carried away and make forward runs and follow the ball, which is my tendency sometimes, I have to make myself aware of my new responsibilities.
"The lads behind me have been great. [They] have been shouting at me non-stop 'left shoulder' or 'right shoulder' - there's always someone on one of my shoulders!
"It's been good and we've had some decent performances, barring Chelsea when I didn't think we were too good. The other three games I have played in I have really enjoyed."