The Hammers full-back scored his first goal for the club, lifting them into fifth in the Premier League table, and Moussa Sissoko’s late dismissal capped off a frustrating afternoon for Newcastle at Upton Park on Saturday.
Newcastle started with a confident swagger after six straight wins and Ayoze Perez nearly snatched an opener, spinning and shooting past the far post after he was teed up by Yoan Gouffran.
Andy Carroll, facing his former club, gave a glimpse of his aerial power with a flick-on and Stewart Downing’s low drive tested Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot.
West Ham were settling well, starting to show the slicker brand of football which has propelled them up the table. But Cheikhou Kouyate spoiled a sweeping counter attack with a horribly sliced cross.
Starved of possession, Newcastle were reliant on Perez for much of their attacking threat. The Spaniard was denied by a timely tackle from James Tomkins, but then fired into the side netting from a tight angle.
West Ham appealed passionately for a penalty just before the break, with Carroll convinced that Mike Williamson had blocked the ball with his arm, but referee Mike Dean was unmoved.
Downing sent a rising shot over the bar during a frantic start to the second period, while Newcastle’s Jack Colback was equally wayward, ballooning the ball into the crowd.
But it was the Hammers who took the lead soon afterwards in scruffy fashion. A mishit shot from Kouyate bounced perfectly into the path of Cresswell (56), who steered his shot into the bottom corner.
Newcastle searched for an instant response and Adrian smothered a near post shot from the lively Perez.
But an uphill task for the Magpies was made to appear even steeper when Sissoko (76) was sent-off. The French midfielder earned a second yellow with a crunching challenge on Carroll.
West Ham were unable to take advantage in the dying minutes as Downing’s low cross drifted across the box, while substitute Mauro Zarate was crowded out after bursting clear.
Soccer Saturday reaction – Matt Le Tissier
A draw would have been a fair result. Neither of the sides dominated for great periods of time. Neither of them created a load of chances. The goal was a bit of a fluke as well. Kouyate hit a shot so badly it trickled past the Newcastle defence, it fell into Cresswell’s path and he finished it well. It wasn’t a game of great quality and it was probably appropriate that a goal that wasn’t of great quality settled it.
Williamson and Dummett played Carroll very well and kept him quiet. Anything that came into the box, they were very tight on him and didn’t allow him any free headers at goal. They marshalled him pretty well and he was ineffective.
As for Moussa Sissoko’s red card, he got two yellows in about a minute. The first was for kicking the ball away, which was a little silly and seconds later he appears to scrape his studs down Carroll’s shin and push him in the chest. The ref thought that was worthy of a second yellow and he was off.
I like the look of Perez. His movement is good up front, he’s always showing for the ball, he’s always lively and he caused a few problems for the West Ham defence. He’s going to be a very good footballer. Newcastle didn’t look like a team that had won six on the bounce, though.
West Ham: Adrian (6), Jenkinson (6), Collins (6), Tomkins (7), Cresswell (8), Noble (6), Kouyate (6), Amalfitano (6), Downing (7), Jarvis (6), Carroll (7)
Used subs: Nolan (6), Zarate (6)
Newcastle: Elliot (6), Janmaat (6), Williamson (6), Dummett (5), Haidara (6), Tiote (6), Colback (6), Gouffran (6), Sissoko (6), Ameobi (5), Perez (7)
Used subs: Cisse (6), Cabella (5), Taylor (5)
Man of the match: Aaron Cresswell