Match report: West Ham 2-1 Norwich

Joey O'Brien
Joey O'Brien wheels away in delight after scoring West Ham's crucial second goal. Photo: PA

West Ham kickstarted their Barclays Premier League campaign and inflicted a fourth straight defeat on Norwich with a 2-1 win at Upton Park.

The Irons, who last won against Chelsea here on December 1, went ahead through a Mark Noble penalty after just three minutes when referee Mark Clattenburg spotted a shirt pull by defender Ryan Bennett.

Norwich midfielder Robert Snodgrass rattled the woodwork with a free-kick before Joey O'Brien crashed home a second goal on 26 minutes, which proved enough for a morale-boosting victory ahead of next weekend's FA Cup tie against Manchester United.

Russell Martin netted a late consolation with a well-taken volley for his third goal in two games.

The Irons - with just two victories in the last 11 outings before this afternoon - got off to a flying start when Bennett, drafted into the starting XI this afternoon in place of Javier Garrido, was adjudged to have held Winston Reid as he climbed for a header.

Noble - standing in as captain for suspended Kevin Nolan - made no mistake from the spot, blasting the ball down the middle as Mark Bunn dived the wrong way.

After a 10-match unbeaten run which pulled Norwich away from the relegation zone, Chris Hughton's side have endured a miserable run over the festive season, with the 4-3 home defeat by Manchester City a third on the spin.

There was some concern on the West Ham bench when Carlton Cole stayed down after a challenge with Bennett, and the England forward had to eventually go off for some treatment.

Cole, though, was soon back in the thick of the action and on 14 minutes, he spun Sebastien Bassong before drilling in a 20-yard strike which Bunn did well to pluck out of the air.

Norwich were awarded a free-kick some 25 yards out after a handball.

Snodgrass struck a superb curling effort up over the wall, only for the ball to cannon back off Jussi Jaaskelainen's right-hand post.

There was then a shout for a Norwich penalty when the ball dropped onto Reid's hand as he challenged Bassong, this time however the referee was not interested.

At the other end, Jack Collison stabbed his shot at Bunn from point-blank range when he had the whole of the goal to aim at after meeting Guy Demel's cross from the right.

It was, though, 2-0 on 25 minutes.

Play continued with Norwich midfielder Alex Tettey on the floor after being clattered by Cole, and Noble charged into the

right side of the Norwich penalty area.

His cut-back from the goalline was pushed out by Bassong, and Joey O'Brien rifled the loose ball past Bunn.

West Ham soon went on the offensive again as Matt Taylor unleashed a 25-yard drive which the Norwich keeper tipped over.

Cole then somehow blazed the ball high into the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand after another superb low cross through the Norwich six-yard box from Demel.

There was some fresh endeavour about the visitors at the start of the second half.

Norwich felt they should have been given a penalty when Harry Kane - the on-loan Tottenham striker leading the attack in the absence of injured captain Grant Holt - went down under pressure from James Tomkins, but again the referee was unimpressed as contact looked minimal at best.

There was a stoppage on the hour as Noble needed treatment to his knee following an awkward fall.

The Irons continued to look dangerous as they hit Norwich on the break, with a corner flying through the six-yard box and just away from Cole at the far post.

On 63 minutes, Taylor lofted a lovely cross-field pass on to the head of Vaz Te, but the ball dropped against the foot of Bunn's right-hand post.

Norwich made a double change with 20 minutes left when Kane and Wes Hoolahan were replaced by Simeon Jackson and Elliott Bennett.

Snodgrass tried his luck with a low effort from 25 yards which Jaaskelainen gathered.

The visitors were enjoying their best spell, if without really stretching the West Ham defence.

Cole headed another good chance wide, before Martin set up an anxious three minutes of stoppage time for the home fans with a close-range volley from Jackson's left-wing cross.