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2013-01-02T07:00:00 Updated 2015-02-19T01:30:21

Joey's half-century goal

Joey O'Brien ensured West Ham United supporters enjoyed a happy New Year by scoring the winner in Tuesday's 2-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Norwich City.

The No17 marked his 50th appearance in a Hammers shirt with a smart low finish, ensuring the vast majority of another sell-out Boleyn Ground crowd could celebrate the first day of 2013.

The Republic of Ireland man also produced a fine defensive performance to keep Norwich danger-man Robert Snodgrass at bay

"It was a massive win for us," said O'Brien. "It was a disappointing with how the game went at Reading on Saturday because we did enough to win that game, so it was good to bounce back and win in front of our own fans. We played some good stuff, too, so it's always nice to play some nice football and get three points.

"Overall we played really well and could have been three or four goals up going in at half-time and that would have made it a lot easier. Two-nil is probably the worst score to have because they were obviously going to have a bit more possession.

"Their manager had obviously had a go at half-time and they came out and had a bit more ball. They scored at the end and made it a bit nervous and if they'd got the equaliser it would have been really hard to take for us."

Before O'Brien struck midway through the first half, Mark Noble settled any nerves by drilling home from the penalty spot after Winston Reid had been impeded by Ryan Bennett.

"We started off really well, which is what the manager asked us to do after the disappointment against Reading. We started off really well and they didn't get a second. We knocked it around really well and had plenty of chances and it could have been three or four-nil at half-time.

"To be honest I didn't really see the penalty incident but, if you break down the times they put the ball into our box and the times we put the ball into their box, they could have had one given as well. If you're the defending team, it's hard to take."

There was no dispute over the 26-year-old's second goal of the season. O'Brien was involved in an incisive move that also included Matt Jarvis, Matt Taylor, Mark Noble and Carlton Cole before the left-back calmly slotted the ball between Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn and his near post.

In his own post-match interview, manager Sam Allardyce said O'Brien was benefitting from defenders being drawn to Jarvis, allowing him to make unmarked runs inside the winger.

"Defenders are afraid of Jarvo. Since he has come in, Matt has been brilliant and he puts in an awful lot of crosses. On Saturday he must have put in about 15 or 16 crosses himself and he draws players to him, so it's nice when you're playing inside him because they might be able to nip balls into you. I think that might be what happened.

"I just tried to pass the ball into the net and luckily it went in."

O'Brien was replaced with 20 minutes remaining, but the full-back was happy to report that it was just a precaution as he was feeling tightness in his hamstring. He is therefore hopeful of facing Manchester United in the FA Cup with Budweiser third round on Saturday.

"It's a great game in the FA Cup. Hopefully, with it being an early-evening kick-off the atmosphere will be great and we can do the job. It's a free pass after the league and it's a great opportunity.

"Perhaps the manager will mix it up and give other players an opportunity and a chance to play against them. They are the sort of team you want to play well against and if we're able to put them out of the cup then that would be fantastic."

Looking further forward, with fixtures to follow against Sunderland, Queens Park Rangers and Fulham before the end of January, O'Brien said the Hammers would be looking to pick up as many Barclays Premier League points as possible.

"It was a massive let-down last weekend at Reading. We went there determined to win and we dominated the game and did everything but win. It was a massive disappointment.

"It was important to get the three points against Norwich and, with those teams coming up, we have the chance to win games. If we can get the wins and points on the board early then it will take the pressure off and we can start to relax and go out and enjoy our football."


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