Match analysis: West Ham United 1 Newcastle United 2
THERE was a time when the only famous housemates on Tyneside were the fame-hungry wannabes from the Big Brother house – but that dubious honour now belongs to Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan.
Newcastle United's two goalscorers in the victory over West Ham will be living together for some time to come, although it is their partnership on the pitch, rather than around the house, which matters to a football club which finally remembered how to earn some positive headlines in East London.
As disagreeable as some of the North East representatives on a suspect reality television show may have been, at least none of them have ever had to defend their reputation in a court room, which is where Carroll will find himself this morning as he pleads not guilty to an assault charge.
There is not a club in the country which does non-football-related drama better than Newcastle United, but as entertaining as that can be for those who are interested in scandal, intrigue and rumour, its supporters are surely tired of being extras in a soap opera.
The team's performance at West Ham was a timely assurance that football results are what really matter in the dressing room, while Carroll's own personal contribution was a potent reminder of the talent he must not allow go to waste.
The new number nine was a constant nuisance to the West Ham defence. He does not always know how best to use his natural attributes and there were times when he infuriated observers with a poor touch or a poor position, but importantly he managed to get himself on the scoresheet for the first time in seven games.
With nine games played, Carroll has scored five times, an excellent contribution from a young player in his first season as a first choice Premier League striker. There is vast potential there, but he is still a long way from realising it and must never lose sight of that.
Carroll has much to thank Nolan for. The Newcastle skipper has taken the troubled youngster into his family home in order to help him get his personal life back on track and there was a thank you of sorts on Saturday evening.
Joey Barton swung in a delicious cross to the far post which Carroll was able to divert into the path of his landlord, who drilled in a low shot from eight yards. That drew the Magpies level in a game they had looked second best in for the first 15 minutes, West Ham taking the lead thanks to some poor defending.
Frederic Piquionne was able to peel off the shoulder of Mike Williamson and, despite mis-hitting his cross, Carlton Cole was able to move in front of Jose Enrique to stab the ball in from close range with Tim Krul stuck at his near post.
The setback, though, galvanised the visitors and they were well worth their equaliser after pinning the home side back in their own half for long periods with Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Barton and Shola Ameobi all prominent, although it was the presence of Cheik Tiote which broke up so many West Ham attacks.
Finely balanced at the break, the game swung firmly in Newcastle's favour in the second half as they pressurised West Ham into mistakes and turned the screw.
With the home fans growing restless, Newcastle poured forward, only to be let down by a bad ball in the final third as possession fizzled out into over hit crosses and runs down blind alleys.
But finally their pressure told. Ameobi played the ball back to Barton, who hit a right-wing cross which found Carroll unmarked six yards out. He could not miss, but the downward header was an emphatic statement all the same.
West Ham were expected to respond, but it never came and Krul did not have a single save to make.
Instead, it was Newcastle who came closest to giving the game another goal, Ameobi's deflected effort rolling inches wide before Carroll drilled a low effort narrowly wide.
It was a fantastic result for Chris Hughton. The manager has been unfairly and unreasonably put under pressure in recent days by the behaviour of others.
His job, according to the mischief-makers and doomsayers, was under threat before kick-off, although The Journal has constantly been assured by senior club officials this is not the case.
Whatever the situation, Saturday's win should silence such negative talk, at least for a while. Sometimes Newcastle United does not appreciate what it has got, but a move up to ninth in the Premier League table, just over a year since a 2-0 defeat at Scunthorpe in the Coca Cola Championship, should tell everyone what sort of job the manager has done.