16 Jan Newcastle up for the fight
Newcastle 2 – 1 West Ham
Debutant Jonjo Shelvey could find himself in trouble with the Football Association after helping new club Newcastle to a 2-1 victory over West Ham.
The £12million England midfielder turned in just the kind of performance for which the Magpies bought him, but faces trial by video over an off-the-ball body-check on Hammers striker Enner Valencia which did not appear to be spotted by referee Neil Swarbrick.
But whatever the future holds for the former Swansea man, he went home from St James’ Park with a smile on his face after first-half goals from Ayoze Perez and Georginio Wijnaldum – the Dutchman’s ninth of the season – proved enough to secure a first win seven games in all competitions and in the process, condemn the visitors to a first defeat in 10.
Buoyed by both their midweek fightback against Manchester United and the arrivals of new signings Shelvey and Henri Saivet, Newcastle started with an intensity and belief which has eluded them for much of the campaign to date, and were richly rewarded.
Perez had already seen Adrian claim his early side-footed effort when he fired the Magpies into a sixth-minute lead, curling the ball sweetly beyond the keeper after Wijnaldum had laid the ball off from Shelvey’s pass.
It was 2-0 with just 15 minutes played, and the way in which the home side extended their lead will have thrilled head coach Steve McClaren and the bulk of a crowd of 50,031.
Shelvey speared a long pass into the run of full-back Daryl Janmaat, who collected it without breaking stride before sliding a cross to Wijnaldum, who steered the ball into the roof of the net.
Newcastle simply had too much pace, power and movement for the hapless Hammers, who found themselves pinned back deep inside their own half for much of the opening 45 minutes.
Aleksandar Mitrovic saw a stabbed shot blocked by Adrian after exchanging passes with Wijnaldum and later missed his kick in front of goal as he tried to volley home Perez’s inviting cross and in the meantime, full-back Paul Dummett was denied from a tight angle by the keeper and Moussa Sissoko saw a close-range effort blocked.
The shell-shocked Hammers finally eased their way into the game as the half-time whistle approached and it took a fine save from the previously under-employed Rob Elliot to keep out Cheikhou Kouyate’s 43rd-minute snapshot.
Wijnaldum might have made it 3-0 within three minutes of the restart when he scuffed his shot wide after linking with Sissoko and Mitrovic, but the game was blown wide-open within seconds when defender Chancel Mbemba left his back-pass to Elliot woefully short and half-time substitute Nikica Jelavic rounded the keeper to half the deficit.
The visitors were revitalised by their lifeline and took the game to their hosts for much of the second half, although Mitrovic forced two saves from Adrian and Shelvey a third as McClaren’s men hit them repeatedly on the break, but Elliot had to produce an 89th-minute save to deny Kouyate an equaliser in a rousing finish.