Hammers blow for Burnley
Burnley face an uphill battle to preserve their Premier League status after their 10 men slipped to defeat at West Ham. Press Association Noble converted the resulting penalty, the first West Ham have scored in the Premier League this season, and only smart goalkeeping from Tom Heaton kept Burnley in the game before the interval. The Hammers might be safe in mid-table but Sam Allardyce’s side had scored only three goals in their previous seven games and they failed to make their numerical advantage pay – having to settle for a single goal as their fans endured a tense finish to the game. For Burnley, the defeat would have been all the more galling given the fact fellow relegation candidates Aston Villa, Leicester and Sunderland all picked up crucial wins whilst they have now lost four games in succession. The first chance fell to Enner Valencia inside the opening three minutes but he could not make contact with Aaron Cresswell’s teasing cross when free in front of Burnley’s goal. The Ecuador forward fell awkwardly on his ankle moments later and required treatment but, with fellow strikers Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll injured, Allardyce would have been pleased to see Valencia run off any problem. Burnley’s first clear opportunity fell to Ings but his well-taken volley flashed across Adrian’s goal and drifted behind and he was again off-target as he could only head Matt Taylor’s cross over. Despite enjoying a spell in possession, the visitors fell behind after referee Jonathan Moss awarded a penalty to West Ham as Cheikhou Kouyate’s quick feet saw him clipped by Duff. The defender was sent off and Noble sent Tom Heaton the wrong way to score West Ham’s first penalty of the season and put the Hammers into a scarcely-deserved lead. Heaton prevented the game slipping away from his side moments later as he kept out Valencia’s close-range effort after Stewart Downing had squared the ball across goal. The recalled Morgan Amalfitano was the next man to come close to doubling West Ham’s advantage as he thrashed in a shot that Heaton turned behind from his near post. Burnley almost levelled as Ashley Barnes powered in a header from Kieran Trippier’s corner but saw his effort kept out by the legs of Adrian. The second-half started with West Ham again on top, this time Kevin Nolan could only flick Carl Jenkinson’s cross wide before Kouyate saw a long-range effort blocked behind. Despite needing a positive result, Burnley were pinned back in their own half but Ings should have done better when played in over Cresswell, hitting the side-netting and not forcing Adrian into a save. Ings felt he was fouled by Jenkinson when through on goal but referee Moss waved away his lingering protests. Amalfitano came within inches of adding a second for Allardyce’s men but his effort from Valencia’s flick-on was just wide of Heaton’s goal. The game was starting to open up and former West Ham midfielder Matt Taylor drew a smart stop from Adrian, with Nolan again testing Heaton as the Hammers hit back on the break. Stewart Downing picked up a yellow card after Moss deemed the winger dived under pressure from Ben Mee as West Ham could not find a way to kill off the game. Having only beaten struggling Hull and Sunderland since the turn of the year, West Ham’s players started to look nervy in the closing stages. Downing, James Collins, Kouyate and substitutes Carlton Cole and Nene all had good late chances but Burnley could not rally in the dying moments and could be relegated next weekend away at Hull. Sean Dyche’s side remain bottom of the table and now sit eight points from safety with just three fixtures remaining after losing 1-0 at Upton Park as Mark Noble converted a first-half penalty following Michael Duff’s sending off. The visitors had started well against a West Ham side who had won just two of their previous 17 league fixtures going into this game and Danny Ings missed two good chances before the Hammers were handed the initiative as FA Cup final referee Jonathan Moss dismissed Duff for clipping Cheikhou Kouyate in the box.