ANDY CARROLL gave West Ham the wake up call to lift them out of the relegation zone.
West Brom had tried to get the match abandoned claiming they were too tired just 48 hours after facing Arsenal on Sunday.
But until Carroll headed home his first goal of the season and followed it up with a second deep into injury time only one team looked like it was sleeping on the job.
The big Geordie has been out in the cold since November with new boss David Moyes unable to find the right formula for his front line and distinctly unimpressed with what the former England star has to offer.
But last night at least he was alert enough to the real dangers facing West Ham to come up with the goods and score twice and alleviate the pressure on his club.
Baggies boss Alan Pardew maintained that just one full day’s rest since taking on Arsenal on Sunday was too draining and they had a point.
They nearly had all three in fact until Carroll turned the game on its head and brought West Ham back from a goal down to win a match for the first time since moving into the London Stadium nearly 18 months ago.
The hosts last night had enjoyed a whole week with their feet up since a 3-3 draw at Bournemouth on Boxing Day and were expected to come roaring out of the blocks to take full advantage.
Yet West Ham were sluggish, lacklustre and way off the pace. West Brom were not much better but at least they had a reasonable excuse.
Former Hammers boss Alan Pardew made four changes from the team which grabbed a draw against Arsenal on New Year’s Eve to try to freshen up the look against his old team.
INTERACTIVE STATS – CLICK on the categories to find out how the teams fared
He needn’t have bothered as his team rode out any of the rare attacks on his goal in the first half while making the most of theirs.
The decisive one came on the half hour mark when James McClean broke free down the West Brom left from inside his own half and was granted way too much time and space to turn it into a genuine goal threat.
Hammers defender Winston Reid, back in the side after being dropped but only because of injury to James Collins, realised way too late that he had been turned inside out and was left for dead.
McClean exchanged passes with Salomon Rondon on the edge of the box then took his shot at goal.
INTERACTIVE LINE-UPS– CLICK on a player’s number below to see their stats
There was a deflection off midfielder Pedro Obiang and the ball looped over Adrian in goal who watched in despair as it dropped into the back of his net then threw his hands up in despair.
It summed up a performance which underlined the nerves permeating every area of the team at present.
For McClean it was his first goal for West Brom in more than a year – since September 2016 – and redemption for his mistake on Sunday.
The midfielder apologised to his team-mates for turning his back on Alexis Sanchez’s free kick that allowed Arsenal to score and put West Brom up against it.
Moyes has been heavily reliant on record signing Marko Arnautovic for the goals which he hopes will keep his team afloat this season. Five in five from the prolific Austrian has given the fans at least one thing to cheer.
Carroll has been out in the cold since November 24 with injury and lack of form keeping him out.
Moyes plumped to start with Carroll and Arnautovic last night as his latest attacking formation.
It looked ineffective for a long time. Manuel Lanzini had West Ham’s best and only two decent chances of the first half.
West Brom keeper Ben Foster made two good saves to deny the Argentinian.
West Ham looked like being frustrated all night until finally Carroll did what he does best – obliterating defenders, taking out both Kieran Gibbs and Jonny Evans as he climbed high to meet Aaron Cresswell’s deep cross from the left and turn a header into the opposite corner of the net.
It looked like an honourable draw with a point not much good to anyone, until Carroll was in the right place at the right time again.
Arnautovic was the supplier. West Ham’s workhorse threaded his way to the by line then delivered a low cross in front of goal.
It was too far in front of Javier Hernandez but Carroll was left unshackled at the far post to smash home the winner from a tight angle four minutes into the four minutes of stoppage time.
https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thesun.co.uk%2Fsport%2Ffootball%2F5255437%2Fwest-ham-2-west-brom-1-andy-carroll-james-mcclean%2F&text=Andy%20Carroll%20bags%20late%20winner%20to%20seal%20dramatic%20three%20points” target=”_blank” title=”Click to share on Twitter