West Ham Focus – Allardyce of to a good start as Hammers nail opener

The opening Saturday of the 2012-13 Premier League season saw newly promoted West Ham United get off to a flier in a game where a solitary Kevin Nolan goal was enough for the home side to take all three points.

The Hammers came into this game full of expectation and the fans were in full voice to see their team play its first Premier League game in over a year. And they were not disappointed as Nolan popped up five minutes before the break with the only goal of the game to give the home side a well-deserved victory and Sam Allardyce a dream start to a campaign where the main objective is to keep his side in the top flight of English football.

West Ham dominated a game in which the visitors rarely threatened the home side’s goal. Nolan’s strike came on the stroke of half-time when Ricardo Vaz Te, West Ham’s playoff hero in May, managed to latch on to a floated ball in from Mark Noble to square for Nolan to tap in. The linesman had his flag up for offside but the referee spotted that the ball came off a Villa head in the build-up and reversed the decision, so the goal rightly stood.

In truth, West Ham were unlucky not to have won by more, with Carlton Cole missing from close range and new signing Modibo Maiga coming off the bench to have an effort cleared off the line in stoppage time. Aston Villa, a side that only escaped the drop by two points last season, will not be the hardest team West Ham will welcome to Upton Park this season but that does not take anything away from the importance of winning games like these, especially as Villa are liable to be in and around the drop zone themselves

Sam Allardyce was full of praise for his men after the match. He said: “We grew into the game. We started to expose Aston Villa’s defence and got the goal with a perfectly good goal and a perfectly good decision with the referee overruling the linesman.

He also had a special mention for new signing James Collins after the final whistle, adding: “It ended up as a very good day as we won 1-0 and kept a clean sheet. James Collins was back and solid in defence, which gave us a platform to win the game.

As with all successful teams home form is a key ingredient, and for West Ham to survive this season they will need to produce more performances like this in front of the home faithful. They showed the traits needed for safety with a solid defensive performance and the goal before the break was well timed. These are the habits that will serve them well as the season progresses.

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