Noble spot on to boost West Ham’s survival bid
LONDON: Mark Noble boosted West Ham’s bid for Premier League survival as the midfielder’s late penalty sealed a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Hull yesterday.
Noble struck from the spot with 14 minutes left to give Slaven Bilic’s side successive victories at the London Stadium for the first time since moving into their new home in the close-season.
Although they were out-played by lowly Hull for long periods, West Ham have pulled five points clear of the relegation zone with a solid run of one defeat in their last five league matches.
Hull slumped to the bottom of the table after setting a club record with seven consecutive away defeats in the topflight. The Tigers have gone six league games without a win and head into the busy Christmas period facing a tough fight to avoid relegation.
Dieumerci Mbokani was back in Hull’s attack after returning from suspension and the Congolese forward had the visitors’ first chance when a nimble step-over opened space for a shot that flashed just wide. Mbokani went even closer moments later, pouncing on Aaron Cresswell’s under-hit back pass to Hammers goalkeeper Darren Randolph before smashing his strike against a post. Hull had failed to score in any of their past four away matches, but Mike Phelan’s team were well on top and when Randolph made a fine save to keep out Harry Maguire’s header from a Robert Snodgrass corner, rumbles of discontent could be heard all around the London Stadium.
It was no surprise the natives were restless given West Ham’s miserable start to life in their new home this season and their complaints grew more vocal after Maguire brought Randolph into action again just before the interval. Bilic sent on Andre Ayew and Edimilson Fernandes for Manuel Lanzini and Pedro Obiang at halftime, but West Ham almost shot themselves in the foot when Noble headed against his own post in a panicked attempt to clear.
Remarkably, Hull struck the woodwork yet again, this time through Andrew Robertson, who lashed a superb effort beyond Randolph only to see it rebound back off a post. West Ham mounted a rare incisive attack of their own as Ayew’s header was cleared off the line by Andrew Dawson, but Hull were immediately back on the attack and Maguire saw his header scrambled off the line by Fernandes.
Hull’s profligacy finally came back to haunt them in the 76th minute when Tom Huddlestone conceded a penalty with the slightest contact on Michail Antonio. Noble had seen his spot-kick saved before he converted the rebound in midweek, but this time he netted at the first attempt, sending his penalty racing past Marshall.