Hammers mauled by Magpies

West Ham United's heaviest Barclays Premier League defeat in almost exactly four years saw them slump back to the bottom of the table on Wednesday evening.

A rampant Newcastle United ran out 5-0 winners, condemning West Ham to their worst result since going down to a 6-0 loss at Reading on New Year's Day 2007.

The Hammers were torn to shreds at St James' Park, with Magpies striker Leon Best marking his Premier League debut for the club with a smartly-taken hat-trick.

Kevin Nolan scored against West Ham for the second time this season, while Denmark international Peter Lovenkrands netted a rare goal to complete the visitors' misery.

Hopes were high that Avram Grant's side could build on both their Boxing Day success at Fulham and the four-match unbeaten run that had seen them climb to 16th in the standings prior to the mid-week round of fixtures..

However, there was very little to cheer the 700-odd hardly Hammers supporters who made the long journey to the North East for the third time this season, having already been to Sunderland twice in the Carling Cup and Premier League before Christmas.

Newcastle were superior in all areas from literally the kick-off until the final whistle, aside from an early Scott Parker shot that was pushed aside by goalkeeper Steve Harper.

While the effort was there from the visitors, nothing the players in claret and blue tried seemed to work at either end of the pitch.

The opening goal arrived on 18 minutes. Frederic Piquionne lost possession deep inside the Newcastle half and, when the home side broke upfield, Lovenkrands was able to lob the ball into the path of Best, who showed no signs of rust in smashing a first-time shot past Green with his left foot.

Six minutes before the interval it was 2-0 courtesy of the same combination. A quickly-taken free-kick sent Lovenkrands clear inside the penalty area and, when Danny Gabbidon could only help his cross on to Best, the striker buried his opportunity from eight yards.

A thoroughly miserable opening 45 minutes ended with James Tomkins clearing the ball straight to Nolan on the edge of the penalty area, allowing the midfielder to pass the ball back past the defender and into the net from 16 yards.

Into the second period and Grant attempted to gain a foothold in the game by making two half-time substitutions, replacing Radoslav Kovac and Piquionne with Valon Behrami and Victor Obinna.

The changes did not have the desired effect, though, as two goals in three minutes compounded the visitors' suffering.

First, on the hour-mark, Best completed his hat-trick, controlling Nolan's pass before shooting high past Green from just inside the penalty area.

There was a hint of offside about Best's goal, but the assistant referee's flag stayed down and the former Southampton forward was able to collect the match ball.

Moments later, Lovenkrands netted his second league goal of the season, nipping in front of his marker to smash Joey Barton's cross past Green at the near post.

Carlton Cole forced a smart save from Harper before substitute Zavon Hines had a 'goal' ruled out for offside late on, but the game was already well and truly up.

Captain Matthew Upson apologised to supporters for the display.

"I can only apologise for the display. Again, it was a fantastic effort from the supporters who came to watch and we didn't do them justice and that's a shame. We need to improve and keep them coming away from home.

"They've been great all season and we will be back on it in the next game.

"It's very difficult to sum it up after such a heavy defeat. We're obviously very disappointed and need to re-group and get ourselves together after a good run.

"I think we have put a lot of our efforts into our last four games and had some good results so perhaps this was one step too far for us because we were really poor.

"You need to look at it, pick pieces out of it and scrap it. That's the best way to move forward. You can't dwell on it or over-analyse it so we'll do that and get back to what I would call normal.

"It was just a poor performance - a poor individual performance and a poor collective performance and just a poor performance from everybody associated with the team. We just have to move on."