Striker puts troubled week behind him with impressive display.
Fielding a new-look formation, which saw Cole return to the starting line-up alongside Frederic Piquionne and Victor Obinna, the home side dominated Chris Hughton’s men, playing with the guile and fluidity of more often associated with a top European side despite American Jonathan Spector being left out of action once again.
And the Hammers could have taken the lead in the opening five minutes of the match, but for an ill thought from Cole, who, when given the option of his playing his strike partner through, following a great run from Obinna, the former Chelsea man opted to go alone and Fabricio Coloccini was able to intercept.
It was looking like Cole had forgotten his lines after being hand a second audition for the first-team. His failure find his partners wavelength was only highlighted by the interplay between Obinna and Piquionne, who have formed an encouraging partnership of late. But then they clicked.
Having picked up the ball in the middle of the Park, Mark Noble arrowed a delightful 40 yard pass into the path of Piquionne, who allowed the ball to pounce before firing a half-volley across goal, for Cole to tap home from three yards, it was a fantastic flowing move.
Nonetheless, it soon became apparent why West Ham find themselves at the foot of the table. In the 10 minutes which followed their goal, they were completely dominated by their opponents, as Newcastle rose through the gears and accelerated into ascendancy.
The warning signs were there for West Ham. An aerial assault from both flanks were directed towards Andy Carroll, and the towering Newcastle striker was proving too much for Matthew Upson and Manuel Da Costa to deal with, as the forward went close with an acrobatic bicycle kick on 17 minutes.
But the home side didn’t learn their lesson, and after Danny Gabbidon allowed Joey Barton too much time on the left flank, Newcastle found their equalizer, and Carroll played a huge part.
Barton’s driven delivery targeted the back-post, and Carroll, despite subjected to the close attentions of both Upson and Da Costa, was able to direct a header back to his captain, and housemate, Kevin Nolan, who hit a fierce drive across Robert Green and into the right corner.
But the Hammers could, and should, have been level within two minutes of the restart, but Obinna was unable to find his first Premier League goal, after Piquionne’s lay-off handed the Nigerian a glorious chance, with Newcastle ‘keeper Tim Krul stuck in no-man’s land.
And the home side would have one last chance before the interval, as Obinna turned to provider after a fantastic run down the left flank.
The on-loan Inter man showed quick-feet to jink past a fierce challenge from Barton, before careering towards the Newcastle box, before firing a driven ball across the box, which Coloccini was fortunate to deflect clear, with Cole waiting to pounce.
Grant was forced into making a change within five minutes of the restart, after Upson appeared to pull a muscle.
What followed was a moment of embarrassment for the home side, as neither Tal Ben Haim or Herita Ilunga appeared to know who would replace the center back, before the Congolese fullback eventually entered the fray, with Gabbidon moving to the heart of defense.
Meanwhile, the visitors confidence grew, as the morale of the home faithful fell in equal measure.
Hughton’s side began to dominate the proceedings, as their midfield overran their West Ham counterparts, as the home side were unable to get a foot hold in the game.
And things went from bad to worse for the home side, as Piquionne had to be replaced after landing awkwardly when jumping for a header on 65 minutes, before being replaced by much ridiculed Benni McCarthy.
The South African first action was to defend a set piece. Barton whipped in a dangerous free kick which Ilunga just about managed to clear for a corner.
Less than a minute later, Newcastle’s pressure finally told, and Carroll found himself on the scoresheet.
Shola Ameobi showed good awareness on the right-flank to hold up the ball before calmly laying it off to Barton, and the former Manchester City man flighted in a delightful cross, and the unmarked Carroll did was he does best, diving to meet the ball with a powerful header from six yards.
Grant response was to remove Valon Behrami for Mexican winger Pablo Barrera, in an attempt to force their way back into the match, but the visitors were bullish in possession, while the home side went from tepid, to lackluster, to woeful in their performance.
But Carroll went close to grabbing his second of the game, as the Newcastle man was allowed to burst through the heart of West Ham’s defense before firing a low drive at goal, which despite drifting but a foot wide of the post, Green watched its flight with little concern.
At the whistle, Upton Park was awash with boos and discontent, after seeing something which started so promisingly for the home side, end with such stagnancy.
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