West Ham heaped more misery on Burnley’s survival push as the Hammers beat the Clarets 1-0 at Upton Park on Saturday afternoon.
On the 50th anniversary of West Ham’s famous 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup win over a formidable 1860 Munich team return of European football is certainly out of the reach for the Hammers as they faced a Burnley side scrapping against relegation.
The pre-match form showed that this game was not going to be flooded with goals as Sam Allardyce’s side have scored just three goals in their last seven while The Clarets have the worst chance conversion rate in the top flight this season, scoring with just 9% of their shots.
Shooting towards the Bobby Moore stand in the first half the Hammers were inches away from grabbing the lead in the opening two minutes, lone striker Enner Valencia connecting with left back Aaron Cresswell’s teasing cross.
Burnley’s Danny Ings, who is set to depart the club in the summer on a free transfer, had a great sight at goal in the 12th minute trying to catch out Hammers keeper Adrian with an early strike that flashed just wide.
Burnley gradually became the team piling on the most pressure. Former West Ham midfielder Matt Taylor showed his former employers what they were missing with a delightful cross and Ings directed his free header over the bar.
However Burnley’s chances of picking up maximum points were dealt a massive blow. Midfield powerhouse Cheikhou Kouyate’s jinking run forced Michael Duff to bring the Senegalese down in the penalty area. Referee Jonathan Moss produced the red card and Mark Noble calmly dispatched the spot kick, his first of the season.
The Upton Park outfit were denied a second shortly after the penalty. Midfield maestro Stewart Downing produced a low cross which found Valencia but the Ecuadorian was denied by Burnley’s Tom Heaton.
With the Hammers dominating possession – retaining 57% of the ball – Sean Dyche’s men looked frustrated as the half time whistle went.
Ings looked Burnley’s only real goal threat on the afternoon with many of the travelling support thinking he had scored. However his side footed effort only rattled the side netting.
Some neat and attractive play in Burnley’s final third resulted in captain Kevin Nolan finding Amalfitano in acres of space in the area but the Frenchman curled his shot just wide.
Nolan could have put himself on the scoresheet himself on the hour mark had it not been for the feet of Heaton in a cagey second half.
The east Londoners were starting to show glimpses of the form they showed earlier in the season as Burnley were camped inside their own half for the majority of the second 45 minutes.
Substitute Carlton Cole was immediately in the thick of the action as the former England striker towered above Michael Keane and Jason Shackell only to see his header land on the roof of the net.
Cole fierce drive from 12 yards out failed to beat Heaton as the Hammers looked ever more likely to double the lead.
Shackell stopped Kouyate’s volley from hitting the back of the net with his headed clearance off the line as ten men Burnley failed to carve out a chance in the last half an hour.
Brazilian forward Nene almost scored from the edge of the area which was finger tipped over the bar by Heaton as West Ham recorded only their third win in 18 games.
West Ham: Adrian, Jenkinson, Collins, Burke, Cresswell; Amalfitano, Noble, Kouyate, Nolan © (Nene, 78), Downing, Valencia (Cole, 81).
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Jarvis, O’Brien, Song, Oxford.
Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Shackell ©, Duff, Mee; Arfield, Jones, Taylor (Wallace, 80), Boyd (Keane, 45); Barnes (Sordell, 78), Ings.
Subs Not Used: Gilks, Kightly, Reid, Jutkiewicz.