West Ham United see off Norwich City after flying start
West Ham United 2 Norwich City 1: Controversy seems to follow referee Mark Clattenburg wherever he goes this season. That trend continued at the Boleyn Ground leaving Chris Hughton, the Norwich manager, less than pleased.
Clattenburg, the official accused of racially abusing Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel, before being cleared, was at the centre of attention again.
After just three minutes he had given West Ham a soft penalty when Ryan Bennett was harshly adjudged to have tugged on Winston Reid’s shirt in the area. Mark Noble, the West Ham captain for the day while Kevin Nolan was out suspended, converted the spot kick.
At the midway point of the first half, Norwich could have had a penalty kick of their own when Reid handled under pressure from centre-half Sébastien Bassong, but Clattenburg waved appeals away.
Hughton was then left incensed on 26 minutes when Carlton Cole and Alexander Tettey went up for a header. The Norwich midfielder went down injured but Clattenburg refused to give a foul and Joey O’Brien scored.
“We were on the end of key decisions which did not go in our favour,” said Hughton. “I spoke to him ([Clattenburg)] at half-time about the first decision with the penalty.
“We accept Ryan Bennett had Reid’s shirt but Reid had his forearm. It is something you see game in, game out and you almost never see a penalty given. I was very surprised it was.
“It was handball as well in the first half and we should have had a penalty. It was also a foul on Tettey and it gets worse every time I have watched it. We have been on the end of some decisions.”
Noble’s early penalty came before Cole’s long-ranged shot on 10 minutes which was comfortably collected by Mark Bunn. Norwich came close to an equaliser after 20 minutes when Robert Snodgrass’s free-kick hit the bottom of the right-hand post and was cleared away to safety.
Moments after Reid’s handball, West Ham almost doubled the lead through Jack Collison, but for a magnificent save by Bunn. O’Brien didn’t give Bunn a chance with a calm finish from eight yards, just minutes later, though.
In the 90th minute, Norwich’s Russell Martin, the Norwich defender, scored his third goal in two matches, volleying in Simeon Jackson’s cross into the bottom corner, but the Hammers held on to move above Norwich in the Barclays Premier League table.
Sam Allardyce, the West Ham manager, was quick to single out “unsung hero” Reid after the victory. He said: “The basis of our successful season has been defending and he gives us a solid base. “Nobody has taken us apart so far. That is because of the defensive qualities we have got. He plays the game in the right way and can pass the ball out of defence. You need that in this day and age.”