Hammers v Manchester City

Shaun Newton's first-half goal earned Hammers a much-needed 1-0 victory over Manchester City at Upton Park on Saturday.

On a rainy and miserable day in east London, a 15th minute strike from the 30-year-old brightened up the afternoon and saw Alan Pardew's team return to winning ways in the Premiership after three games without success.

Pards made three changes to his team following last week's dismal 4-1 defeat at Chelsea. Newton came in for the injured Matthew Etherington, while Jimmy Walker and Bobby Zamora replaced the rested Shaka Hislop and Marlon Harewood, as the Hammers boss kept one eye on Monday's trip to Middlesbrough and next Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against the same opponents.

Stuart Pearce's men entered the game hoping to end a run of nine away matches without a win and gain revenge for last month's FA Cup quarter-final defeat against the Hammers, but the former Upton Park favourite saw his side do their cause no good with some suspect defending for what proved to be the only goal of the game.

After a fairly sluggish start from both teams, the decider came out of the blue on 15 minutes, as Konchesky's throw was flicked on by Ashton to Zamora, whose clever turn took him past Distin on the touchline. With Thatcher the only City defender in sight, Zamora was able to sweep a low crossfield pass to the unmarked Newton, who had time and space to fire his first goal for the club past former Hammers goalkeeper David James.

Another former Upton Park favourite, Trevor Sinclair, was also included in the visitors' starting line-up, and thought he had claimed an equaliser just 10 minutes before the break. However, as the midfielder's lob was about to drop into the net, youngster Micah Richards raced in to make sure and was left holding his head in his hands as the linesman's raised flag ruled the goal out.

From the resulting free-kick, Hammers quickly broke away on the counter-attack, and Benayoun's cross found Zamora just six yards out, but he too was denied by the offside flag as he shaped to shoot.

As the rain and wind continued to swirl around Upton Park, the second half developed into a tense and scrappy affair, and Hammers had Jimmy Walker to thank for holding on to their lead. Again it was Sinclair who was denied, just five minutes after the interval, when he surged through the centre of the field and found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, who made a superb one-handed stop to divert the ball wide.

With 25 minutes remaining, Pards sent on Marlon Harewood to add some pace to his attack but, having forced a succession of corners without managing to test James again, it was a case of standing firm and restricting the space for the visitors, who were always looking dangerous with only a one-goal deficit to pull back.

On 75 minutes, City had another goal chalked off, as Riera's low cross was turned in by the offside Vassell, who then saw another chance go begging as he broke clear on the left and lifted the ball over Walker, only for Konchesky to get back and hook it to safety.

Hammers then had a chance to put the game beyond doubt when Distin's slip let in Ashton, but Richards got back to clear the danger with a superb last-ditch challenge that thwarted the striker. Richards then had a chance to become a hero at the other end, as he found himself unmarked from a deep free-kick, but Walker again came to the rescue with another excellent reflex save.

The final whistle signalled a first home win in more than two months for Hammers, and with the news that both Bolton and Wigan had ended up on the losing today today, Alan Pardew's men sit proudly in seventh place in the Premiership, knowing that another victory at Middlesbrough on Monday will ensure that they go into next Sunday's prestigious clash at Villa Park high in confidence.