December 6 2013 Latest news:
Steve Blowers, Recorder Reporter
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Premier League: West Ham United 2 Cardiff City 0
It was a baptism of fire for Cardiff City as the Hammers kicked off their season in perfect style thanks to a goal in each half from Joe Cole and Kevin Nolan.
Returning to the top-flight for the first time since May 1962, the Red Dragons found their fire extinguished by a Sam Allardyce side that was clearly determined to start the campaign as they mean to go on.
With star summer signing Andy Carroll still absent with a heel injury, the Hammers line-up certainly had that last season look about it as Big Sam resisted the temptation to pitch new boys Razvan Rat and Stewart Downing into the opening day fray.
Instead, they found themselves on the bench alongside new substitute keeper Adrian, while Modibo Maiga was employed in a lone-striker role.
Ironically, it was Cole who was presented with the first chance of the season, when Matt Jarvis floated over a hanging left-wing cross but the West Ham wide boy appeared to take a slight nudge as he rose with his marker and the header drifted wide.
In reply, Peter Whittingham curled a 20-yard free-kick into the side netting and, after Jarvis took too long to despatch Guy Demel’s inch-perfect cross, the breaking Kim Bo-Kyung then drilled a low 20-yarder inches wide.
Ex-Hammer Malky Mackay must have been pleased with the way his side were settling into the big time, and although the injured Andreas Cornelius (£7.5m) had missed out, he had still been able to give debuts to his other big bucks signings, Steven Caulker (£8m) and Gary Medel (£11m).
But on 13 minutes it all turned sour for the Welshmen when Jarvis cut back from the byline and Cole, with his back to goal, spun and dissected his markers with a low ten-yarder that curled beyond the groping glove of David Marshall on its way into the bottom right-hand corner.
Having got off the mark, the escaping Cole then had a great chance to become an early-season contender for the Golden Boot award as the half-hour mark approached, but his cheeky chip was easily gathered by the woefully exposed Cardiff keeper.
Then as the interval neared, Mohamed Diame left fly with an angled left-wing screamer that deflected off Matt Connolly before scorching just a whisker beyond the far post.
Just after the restart, Diame unleashed another effort that was just inches too high before Jarvis deposited another shot into the shirt-sleeved Hammers fans in the Bobby Moore Stand.
With former Upton Park striker striker Craig Bellamy producing a typically tigerish performance upfront, allied to a goalmouth scramble and a few speculative long-rangers from Whittingham, Cardiff were gradually clawing themselves back into the contest.
On the hour, though, Maiga served up a timely reminder that the East Enders were still capable of posing a threat, when he collected from the advancing Joey O’Brien and fired in a low angled 12-yard shot that Marshall tipped aside for a corner.
With 20 minutes remaining, Jarvis was replaced by debutant Downing and he wasted no time carving his way down the right-hand channel before finding Cole, whose shot was blocked.
By now the clock was ticking on the weary Welshmen and, with a quarter-hour remaining, Bellamy departed to mixed applause alongside Bo-Kyung as another ex-Hammer, Nicky Maynard stepped from the bench in tandem with Rudy Gestede.
Those fresh legs were still finding their footing on the pristine Upton Park turf, though, when Maiga slotted the ball to Noble, who rampaged along the 18-yard line before squaring to skipper Nolan, who sealed a valuable victory with a crisply-flighted shot under the left-hand angle.
Hammers: Jaaskelainen, Demel, O’Brien, Collins, Reid, Noble, Diame (Diarra 82) Nolan, Cole (Vaz Te 89), Jarvis (Downing 71), Maiga. Unused subs: Adrian, Tomkins, Rat, Morrison.
Bluebirds: Marshall, Connolly, John, Caulker, Turner, Gunnarsson, Whittingham , Medel, Bo-Kyung (Maynard 74), Bellamy (Gestede 74), Campbell (Mutch 90+5). Unused subs: Lewis, Hudson, Smith, Cowie.
Bookings: Connolly (26)
Referee: Howard Webb (Sheffield)