West Ham 4-2 Reading

Kevin Nolan scores his third goal

West Ham captain Kevin Nolan scored a hat-trick as relegated Reading bade farewell to the Premier League with a 22nd defeat of the 38-game campaign.

The Hammers took a 2-0 first-half lead with Nolan making the most of an error by keeper Alex McCarthy before Ricardo Vaz Te drilled in the second.

Reading drew level in three second-half minutes thanks to strikes from Garath McCleary and Adam Le Fondre.

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West Ham 4-2 Reading: Sam Allardyce aiming to keep Andy Carroll

But Nolan slotted home the hosts' third before nodding in a fourth late on.

West Ham dominated for large periods, although they could have been left with red faces on the final day of the season after their two-goal advantage evaporated inside the first 15 minutes of the second half following two quick-fire Royals strikes.

However, the Berkshire side showed their true colours with more erratic defending which allowed Nolan, who is not blessed with pace, to twice escape his markers and seal victory for the home side.

That win, their 12th in the league, helped Sam Allardyce's men finish 10th in the table. Reading, whose fate was sealed at the end of April, end the season in 19th, with manager Nigel Adkins likely to have already started planning for next season long before this final encounter.

His side were bullied in the first half by yet another impressive performance by Liverpool forward Andy Carroll, in the final game of his loan spell with the Hammers.

Allardyce has stated he would like to sign Carroll permanently but it has been reported that West Ham can only afford £10m - after this display his value is likely to be much higher.

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Adkins eager for top flight return

He inadvertently set up the first for Nolan after McCarthy's clearance came off the back of the tall striker and landed in the path of his team-mate, who passed into the empty net.

Moments later, Carroll brilliantly plucked down Mohamed Diame's cross from the left and laid the ball off for team-mate Vaz Te to rifle in the second.

However, West Ham lost their composure after the interval. First, McCleary pulled one back for Reading with a 20-yard shot which took a heavy deflection off Mark Noble.

Less than two minutes later, Jobi McAnuff's cross from the left found substitute Le Fondre at the far post for an easy tap-in.

Reading were looking favourites to pick up only their seventh league win but with 11 minutes remaining they were undone by a slick Hammers move as Nolan tucked home after running on to a clipped ball from Noble.

And with Reading spirits dampened, Nolan completed his hat-trick in the 87th minute with a header from Modibo Maiga's right-wing cross.

Reading manager Nigel Adkins:

"Great credit to the players, they showed really good character and in the second half we came out and scored two good goals.

"We were in the ascendancy up until they scored the third.

"That was a shame but it's what you do in both penalty areas.

"There is a good feelgood factor going forward for next season, which is important."

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