Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: West Ham 2 Wolves 0

What a priceless victory this was for West Ham, and how inestimably precious these three points could prove in May.

The fact that the scoreline belied a fairly even game will hardly matter to them; when you are bottom of the league, you take your wins however they come. It was their fourth game without defeat, and for the first time this season they can now look down upon the bottom three, having lifted themselves out of the mire. Avram

Grant’s job is surely safe for the remainder of the transfer window. But this was an excruciatingly nervy game, its importance felt in every overhit pass and mis-timed challenge. Not until Freddie Sears sealed victory with 10 minutes remaining did the home fans feel relaxed enough to break into song. Wolves fought and hustled every bit as wholeheartedly as they had during their victory at Anfield on Wednesday, but this time, with a performance that was scarcely inferior, the breakthrough stubbornly refused to come.

It was a clash of styles. West Ham sought to pick the lock, playing a patient possession game; Wolves tried to bash the door down, spreading the ball with gain of time to strikers Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Stephen Ward. Not that this was a dull, guileless encounter. Chances fell to both sides during a fairly even first half, but too often panic in front of goal saw them squandered.

Freddie Sears capped an electrifying breakaway by cutting inside and shooting straight at Wayne Hennessey. A sublime slice of skill by Carlton Cole allowed Scott Parker to release Junior Stanislas down the left, forcing Richard Stearman into a brilliant sliding challenge.

But it was Cole who wasted West Ham’s best chance of the half, latching on to Parker’s inspired through ball in the area but scuffing his left-footed shot wide with only Hennessey to beat.

The tension barely lifted during a fraught second period. In fact, it was Wolves who started it the better, forcing Robert Green into two fine saves from an Ebanks-Blake header and a Christophe Berra shot. Those two saves proved crucial when West Ham adopted the direct route to score a fortuitous opener.

Tal Ben Haim found Frederic Piquionne in space on the West Ham right. Piquionne’s low centre should have been converted by Cole, but after he swung at fresh air, the ball struck the retreating and unsighted Ronald Zubar and deflected past a helpless Hennessey.

Stung by their cruel misfortune, Wolves swarmed forward, and the stage was set for a pulsating finish. Both teams hit the bar from headers; West Ham through Matthew Upson, Wolves through Ebanks-Blake. Nenad Milijas blazed the ball over from 20 yards, while at the other end Piquionne curled the ball just wide after a swift counter-attack.

These were unbearably anxious times for West Ham’s fans, but with 11 minutes remaining an incisive front-to-back goal settled matters. Ben Haim stormed down the right on the overlap, paused to glance into the area, and elected to pull the ball back low for Sears. The 21-year-old looked up and picked his spot, side-footing the ball past Hennessey. The home side held on for the win, and the roar at full-time was more an explosion of relief than an outpouring of joy.

“It’s been a very good Christmas,” Grant reflected after picking up eight points from four games. “It’s a nice feeling, much better than carrying the whole table on your back. But we have a long way to go.”

West Ham’s stay in the bottom three may be over for the time being, but the nervous mood at Upton Park clearly has some distance still to run.

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