By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 0
West Ham United 1 (Nolan 38)
Newcastle United slipped to their first defeat in six games as they went down 1-0 at home to West Ham United in the Premier League on Sunday.
Former Magpies skipper Kevin Nolan came back to haunt his ex-employers with the only goal of the game seven minutes before half-time.
Nolan was on hand to turn in Joey O'Brien's miscued shot from close range and that proved to be enough to separate the sides at St. James' Park.
Another Newcastle old boy Andy Carroll could have doubled their lead midway through the second half, but that was a rare chance as the hosts dominated without being able to find a cutting edge.
Shane Ferguson was handed just his second Premier League start of the season and justified his inclusion inside the opening five minutes when he strode down the left and delivered a now trademark inch-perfect cross for Papiss Cisse.
The front man threw himself towards the ball six-yards out, but it was taken off his head at the last second by the boot of James Tomkins.
There was plenty of huff and puff in the opening exchanges but little meaningful action in the final third, with only a wayward 20-yard strike from Cisse the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock.
Newcastle were dealt a blow, however, in the 24th minute when Jonas Gutierrez hobbled off injured.
The stand-in skipper had received lengthy treatment earlier in the match following a robust 50-50 with Yossi Benayoun, and having dispossessed Mohamed Diame on the edge of the area, Gutierrez stayed down and was replaced by Vurnon Anita.
That switch didn't seem to affect the Magpies though as within a minute, Anita's central midfield partner Cabaye had warmed the palms of Hammers keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen from distance.
But it was West Ham who took the lead and it came via former Newcastle captain Nolan.
A deep cross from the left was only half-cleared by Davide Santon, and although O'Brien skewed his shot from the resulting loose ball, Nolan was on hand at the far post to sweep the ball home.
The midfielder refused to celebrate in front of the Gallowgate End, but could have doubled his - and the Hammers' - tally just four minutes later when he found space on the edge of the area but struck wide.
Newcastle hit back and Ferguson could have opened his senior account for the Club when a bouncing ball fell at his trusted left boot 15 yards out, with the visitors failing to clear their lines.
But a superb block from George McCartney diverted the sweetly-struck half-volley behind and Jaaskelainen got down well to smother Williamson's powerful header from the resulting corner
With half-time approaching, it was the home side doing all the pressing and Ben Arfa almost grabbed an equaliser when his deflected shot wrong-footed Jaaskelainen but rippled the side netting, and Cabaye was then denied by a fine save from the experienced stopper.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew used the break to make his second change of the afternoon, this time introducing Ameobi for Cisse and the hosts almost levelled immediately, with Jaaskelainen pushing away Ba's downward header.
Magpies players claimed it had already crossed the line but referee Mike Dean had other ideas, ruling that Jaaskelainen had in fact made an excellent save.
The keeper was called upon again in the 51st minute to claim Cabaye's low long-ranger, while he could only watch as Ba flashed a similar drive narrowly wide of the upright.
It was almost exclusively all home pressure and Newcastle somehow failed to scramble home an equaliser when Cabaye's in-swinging free-kick from the left caused chaos in the six-yard box.
A Ben Arfa mazy dribble ended with the Frenchman putting a cross right through the danger zone without a crucial touch, while seconds later Jaaskelainen had to parry a Ba shot behind.
In the 68th minute, Ameobi rose highest at the far post to meet a Cabaye corner but could only head wide, shortly before Ben Arfa's low drive appeared to be heading for the bottom corner until the intervention of Jaaskelainen's fingertips.
For all their dominance, the Magpies nearly gifted West Ham a second goal on 72 minutes. A mix-up between Williamson and Steven Taylor presented Nolan with the ball and when he slipped it through to Carroll, the Gateshead-born striker was only denied by an excellent stop from Tim Krul.
A final throw of the dice came in the shape of Pardew's third substitution of the afternoon, replacing full-back Danny Simpson with winger Gabriel Obertan. It meant a slight reshuffle, with Ferguson dropping into left-back and Santon moving across to the right-hand side.
With the clock ticking away, Ameobi drove straight into the arms of Jaaskelainen and Cabaye skewed a half-volley over the top as time ran out on Newcastle's attempts to get anything from the contest.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson (Gabriel Obertan 79), Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor, Davide Santon; Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez (c) (Vurnon Anita 24) , Shane Ferguson; Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse (Shola Ameobi 46)
West Ham United (4-4-1-1): Jussi Jaaskelainen; Joey O'Brien, Winston Reid, James Tomkins, George McCartney (Guy Demel 67); Yossi Benayoun (Gary O'Neil 52), Mark Noble, Mohamed Diame, Matt Jarvis (Modibo Maiga 34); Kevin Nolan (c); Andy Carroll
Subs not used: Raphael Speigel, James Collins, Robert Hall, Carlton Cole
Referee: Mike Dean (The Wirral)
Bookings: Newcastle - Ben Arfa (76); West Ham - Noble (45). O'Brien (61)
Attendance: 51,855 (2,700 West Ham)