Andy Carroll marked his return to the West Ham United starting line-up in style, scoring the only goal of the game against Swansea City at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday.

Carroll suffered a knee injury in November and only made his first appearance from the bench in the midweek defeat at Fulham, but showed no signs of rustiness in a dominant performance against the in-form Swans.

As well as getting on the end of Mark Noble's 77th minute corner to notch only his second goal in Hammers colours, he was twice the source of fine opportunities for Kevin Nolan before the break and an aerial threat from first whistle to last.

West Ham created the better chances and were good value for three precious Barclays Premier League points. Up until the late breakthrough, it was only Swans stopper Gerhard Tremmel standing in the Hammers' way as he twice denied Nolan before the break, before saving from Ricardo Vaz Te and Carroll after half time.

But the deadlock was eventually broken, much to the delight of another sell out crowd at the Boleyn, as the Hammers moved back up to 11th in the table.

The Hammers had the first sight of goal when Carroll got on the end of a lofted pass from Winston Reid to knock back for Kevin Nolan. The home skipper let fly from 15 yards, but Swansea's Chico Flores got his body in the way to deflect behind for a corner.

Swansea were trying to get into their passing rhythm, but it was the home side who created the early shooting opportunities and Noble lifted one over the top from outside the box on 14 minutes.

Two minutes later Swans stopper Tremmel got behind a fierce Mohamed Diame shot from 22 yards, and the Hammers went closer still on 21 when a brilliant passage of play opened up the visitors down the right hand side.

Joey O'Brien showed nimble feet to spin away from Ben Davies and cut back for Nolan, who met the ball cleanly at the near post, but Tremmel was well positioned to block his effort.

Swansea had not presented much of an attacking threat inside the opening quarter, but when Pablo Hernandez had the opportunity to run at Matt Taylor with 26 minutes on the clock, he almost made them pay. He wriggled out of the tackle and advanced along the by-line, and although his cross was cut out by Nolan, the ball rebounded nicely for a shot and this time Taylor had to get his body in the way.

With Carroll back in the team, his aerial power was always going to be an asset and when he won another header in the box nine minutes before the interval, Nolan looked primed to fire the home side into the lead, but Tremmel got down superbly to his left to turn the ball behind for a corner.

There was still time for one more Hammers opportunity before the break, but Tremmel was in the way once more, diving to his right to flick Ricardo Vaz Te's stinger past the near post.

West Ham continued on the front foot at the start of the second period and Vaz Te forced another stop from Tremmel three minutes after the restart when he won possession on the right flank, drove inside and shot for goal from 20 yards.

Then, after playing the role of provider in the first half, Carroll had the chance to strike on 52 minutes when Jarvis got clear down the lett and cut the ball back to 15 yards from goal, but the big Geordie could not keep his shot down.

Michu had a brace of chances for the visitors just after the hour, first firing over after Wayne Routledge ran forcefully at the Hammers backline, then nodding over a dangerous Hernandez centre.

There were signs that the game was becoming more stretched and Vaz Te was only denied by a superb tackle from Davies on the cover as he burst onto a Nolan through ball inside the area. 

Tremmel was providing a formidable barrier in the Swans goal and midway through the second half he stuck out a foot to block Carroll's low, angled drive which looked set for the bottom left hand corner until the goalkeeper's intervention.

The ball popped back out for the Hammers, and Vaz Te lofted it back into the centre, where Diame struck his volley down into the ground and over the top.

It was beginning to look as though it may be one of those days for the Hammers, but they finally made their pressure count 13 minutes from time when they won a corner down the left, Noble delivered and Carroll powered in to send a downward header beyond Tremmel.

Swansea found some life to their play as they searched for a leveller and it nearly came in the final minute when Nathan Dyer's shot took a couple of deflections on its route through the penalty area and Carroll had to make a desperate block to deny Luke Moore.

West Ham United: Jaaskelainen; O'Brien, Tomkins, Reid, Taylor; Nolan (Pogatetz 90), Diame (O'Neil 86), Noble; Vaz Te, Carroll, Jarvis (J.Cole 62)
Subs: Spiegel (GK), C.Cole, Collison, Chamakh

Goal: Carroll 77

Booked: Vaz Te

Swansea City: Tremmel; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; De Guzman, Britton (Moore 57), KI; Hernandez, Michu, Routledge (Dyer 75)
Subs: Cornell (GK), Lamah, Monk, Shechter, Tiendalli

Booked: Chico

Referee: Lee Probert

Attendance: 34,962

Tottenham Hotspur tickets