Stokes Seals Win Over Norwich

TONY Stokes grabbed the all important goal just two minutes from time to earn West Ham United a 1-0 victory over Norwich City.

Coach Tony Carr welcomed back some of his youth team regulars and the side responded with an exciting display at Little Heath.

On just four minutes Ishmael Welsh along the left touchline centred, and Zavon Hines in the Norwich penalty area got a touch on the ball, but ballooned it over the crossbar.

Norwich also made a lively start, especially young Robert Eagle in midfield, who really took the game to the Hammers.

Eleven minutes in, and after a Norwich breakdown from defence to attack, Hogan Ephraim came away with the ball and from 25 yards out rifled a shot that just cleared the Norwich crossbar.

Three minutes later, Ishmael Welsh did well on the opposite side of the park and played in the lively Ephraim, and only England international keeper Joe Lewis in the Norwich goal prevented him from opening the scoring.

On nineteen minutes, Kyel Reid's precise pass sent Ephraim away. Again his strike brought the best out of Lewis.

Meanwhile at the other end James Tomkins was leading a solid defensive display from the Hammers.

An opening die come for the Canaries on 33 minutes though when Eagle
sped away and released a perfect through ball for Bally Smart, only for West Ham goalkeeper Erem Kemal to block the shot.

Minutes from half time, Ishmael Welsh and David Cowley exchanged passes from a short corner, and the delivery into the Norwich penalty area saw James Tomkins head just wide of Lewis' right-hand post.

HT: 0-0

Hammers opened the second-half, with a flurry of fine football. but they had to wait until the 68th minute for a further sight on goal. 

Hogan Ephraim was upended outside the Norwich penalty area, but brushed himself down to curl a wonderful free-kick towards goal only for the acrobatic Lewis to palm the ball away at full stretch.

Norwich responded, with a set-piece that released Adam Gusterson on the left and his shot was smartly saved by Kemal.

With 81 minutes played substitute Tony Stokes played a superb cross field ball to Kyel Reid who exchanged passes with Joe Widdowson before finally firing wide.

With two minutes of the game remaining West Ham's steady stream of pressure finally paid off.

A corner was flighted over from the right and Jack Jeffery came to meet the ball, with a twisting header that appeared to be looping over the crossbar.

But the ball dipped and Joe Lewis leapt backwards to tip the ball onto the crossbar, but as it rebounded back into play, Tony Stokes was on hand to stab home from close range and clinch all three points for the Hammers.

WEST HAM UNITED: Eren Kemal, Ryan Andrews, Joe Widdowson, Liam White, James Tomkins, Lee Hales, Kyel Reid, David Cowley (Tony Stokes 70), Zavon Hines, Hogan Ephraim, Ishmael Welsh (Jack Jeffery 70).

By Tony Fowles, Ironworks Gazette