Mark Noble Ham scores West Ham's first goal from the penalty spot. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

West Ham’s Mark Noble surprised by early penalty award against Norwich City

Thursday, January 3, 2013
10.46 AM

West Ham midfielder Mark Noble admitted he was surprised to see a penalty awarded against Ryan Bennett at Upton Park.

Referee Mark Clattenburg controversially pointed to the spot in the second minute after Bennett and Winston Reid came together in the penalty area.

Noble slammed home from 12 yards but the West Ham skipper didn’t expect to have the chance to give his side such a dream start.

“You don’t normally get those sorts of decisions,” he said. “It was 100pc a foul and we managed to put it away and I think we fully deserved the three points. It was a massive win for us today and we needed it.”

Joey O’Brien piled the misery on the Canaries before the break and Noble felt his side coped superbly without the likes of skipper Kevin Nolan, Mohamed Diame and James Collins.

“We had some big players missing today but we managed to deal with it,” said Noble, whose side withstood a late Norwich charge which saw Russell Martin pull a goal back. “We went in 2-0 up and it should have been more really. We managed to hold out – we had two players that haven’t played for three or four months. It was a real credit to Ricardo Vaz Te, Jack Collison and Guy Demel and we managed to see the game out.”

Until Tuesday, West Ham had failed to hit the heights of their display in the 3-1 win against Chelsea last month and Noble was delighted to put more distance between the Hammers and the bottom three.

“We want to keep the gap because the teams below us are going to win games as well and we’ve got to keep going,” he said. “We’ve had some tough games in the last month.

“We picked up some injuries but we’ve managed to come through it. We are still mid-table and we really want to push on into the new year now.”