By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson

Kevin Nolan struck against his former Club to keep Sam Allardyce’s 100% winning run on Tyneside intact as West Ham defeated Newcastle 1-0 at St James’ Park.

A game with many sub plots thanks to the numerous former players attempting to get one over on their old sides, it was Nolan who struck just before half-time to silence the Geordie boo boys and give his side a win that moves them to 6th in the Premier League table.

Alan Pardew’s side turned in another lacklustre performance after their midweek exploits in Brugge, despite most of their top players being rested in the Europa League. The lack of form on the domestic front will start to worry Pardew and the Geordie faithful now, as Newcastle head into the Christmas period with a much-fancied fixture list.

Choosing Shane Ferguson over the in-form Vurnon Anita was the main selection news for Newcastle, as the young Irishman’s crossing was preferred to Anita’s energy. However, the Dutch midfielder/defender was soon introduced to the action when Captain for the day Jonas Gutierrez was forced off after a whole-hearted collision with Yossi Benayoun.
Pardew once again kept faith in Papiss Cisse, starting the Senegal striker up front with Demba Ba as he looks to break his scoring duck. However, after the former Freiburg man had shanked a number of hopeful efforts comfortably wide of Jussi Jaaskelainen’s goal, he was hooked at half time.

The Newcastle boss had said earlier in the week that he would welcome Andy Carroll back to St James’ Park in the future and on this performance by his current attacking players, the hostile fans could well be forgiven for wanting the £35m man back.

Mike Ashley can expect a request in the week for investment in January because Demba Ba cannot keep carrying Newcastle forward every time they need a goal.

In a dour first period, neither side looked like scoring as Sky’s decision to not show the clash on TV was wholly justified. The visitors were undoubtedly the better side as they looked for the direct ball up to Carroll and strung passes together easily, while Newcastle looked untidy and without any real attacking threat.

As the half dragged to a close, the visitors got the opening goal. A cross floated towards Carroll and Davide Santon’s clearance only found Joey O’ Brien. The defender’s first-time shot was going comfortably wide before Nolan – played onside by Mike Williamson – tapped in to give the Hammers the lead. The lack of celebration ensured the Scouser maintained a level of professionalism in front of the crowd that once adored him.

Maybe the reception would have turned more sour moments later if Nolan had netted for a second time, as he sliced wide after wriggling away from a challenge.

The goal made Newcastle wake up and try and force the issue at the start of the second half, but ultimately the Hammers were able to repel the blunt Magpies attacks.

The best chance Newcastle had came just a minute into the second period, when Ba’s header was judged to have been kept out by Jaaskelainen. Replays proved inconclusive but Ba was denied a goal against his former employers by the linesman and his assistants.

Shola Ameobi gave a more physical presence to the Newcastle attack and had a good chance when he met a Yohan Cabaye corner with a free header, but failed to test Jaaskelainen.

Newcastle toiled and pushed more men forward as they became desperate in their search for an equaliser but almost conceded a goal which would have made the afternoon unbearable. Carroll broke through the last line of defence when receiving a pass from Nolan and with only the keeper to beat, the St James’ Park crowd held their breath as their former hero went one on one. However, Krul smothered the effort and pushed the shot away with one hand before joining the attack for a last minute corner, but there were to be no more goals in the dull affair on Tyneside.

Newcastle still sit in 10th in the table, while West Ham move up to 6th. The performances of the Magpies need to be improved though, as the table begins to take shape and their reliance on the goals of Ba don’t look enough to seriously challenge the top six.