West Ham player ratings against Birkirkara: Tomkins the hero as Maiga flops again

Here's our player ratings for West Ham United after a narrow 1-0 win over Maltese minnows Birkirkara in the Europa League second qualifying round.

West Ham are the first Premier League side to be back in competitive action after qualifying for Europe through the FIFA Fair Play rankings.

They saw off Andorran side Lusitanos 4-0 over two legs in the first qualifying round and entertained Birkirkara at the Boleyn Ground before travelling over to Malta for the reverse fixture next Thursday.

The match against Birkirkara marked a first official game in the dugout for new Hammers boss Slaven Bilic.

He elected to leave Academy manager Terry Westley - who had been taking training before the Croatian joined up with the east Londoners - in charge in the last round as a mark of respect.

Anyone watching would have been left in little doubt how seriously Bilic is taking the Europa League.

His first ever team selection for a match at the Boleyn Ground saw a strong line-up take on the Maltese cup winners with first team regulars Adrian, Winston Reid, James Tomkins, Aaron Cresswell, Mark Noble, club skipper Kevin Nolan and Morgan Amalfitano all among the starting XI.

Joey O'Brien and Matt Jarvis kept their places from the last round after being frozen out last season and Mauro Zarate started despite being expected to miss a fortnight through injury.

The big surprise of the night, though, was Mali striker Modibo Maiga being brought in from the cold after a season on loan at Metz to partner Zarate up front.

Here are our player ratings for West Ham tonight.

Adrian - 6

Very little to do over the 90 minutes and while Birkirkara were dogged, determined and highly organised they only registered one shot on target all night.

O'Brien - 7

Got up and down and is always reliable. He spent last season as a utility player but will be one of West Ham's fittest players this season after playing another 90 minutes tonight. Solid and no frills.

Reid - 7

West Ham's defence wasn't their problem tonight and Reid looked as assured as ever with his side dominating possession throughout. Never troubled but could perhaps have done more to push out with the ball from the back, something youngster Reece Burke had done so well in the last round.

Tomkins - 8

Like Reid had very little to do at the back but proved the goalscoring hero again to spare Bilic's blushes with another header to clinch a nervy win at the death. After spending so long out injured last season he looks fit and is enjoying his football.

Cresswell - 7

Got down the left hand side a lot, particularly first half and whipped in some trademark crosses. But a lack of movement from Maiga and Zarate's tendency to overdo things in certain situations clipped his wings.

Noble - 6

Should have grabbed a game like this by the scruff of the neck but failed to really impose himself.  Coming off the back of a poor season by his standards Noble will be under pressure to keep his place this time around with the club having signed the likes of Pedro Obiang, Dimitri Payet and Martin Samuelsen. Will need to play a lot better but to be fair it was only his second game this pre-season.

Nolan - 7

Showed glimpses he was getting back to the kind of form you expect from Nolan and your club captain. May have been a surprise to many fans that a player they thought would follow Sam Allardyce out of the exit door remained as skipper for Bilic's first game but put in a good shift and should have got a couple of goals. Went off injured late on.

Jarvis - 6

Was lively in patches but not as effective as in the previous round where he was arguably West Ham's best player. Had a few moments but either chose the wrong pass or overhit it. Will need to do better to convince Bilic he is worth keeping.

Amalfitano - 5

Very ineffectual against highly motivated opposition. Having played both legs of the previous tie it looked like it was catching up with the Frenchman whose skill should have been key to unlocking the visiting defence. Was taken off after 59 minutes.

Zarate - 7

Was expected to miss out through injury but was very lively again and it will be encouraging for both Bilic and the club's fans to see Zarate back in the mix as he offers something different to the rest of West Ham's attackers. Needs to have more of an effect on the game when he is playing well and up his workrate off the ball but showed some nice touches. Tends to overdo things sometimes but has not played a run of games for well over a season now so is to be expected.

Maiga - 4

Lacked movement, guile and judging by his body language desire to make his West Ham career work. Has been given a fresh chance after being frozen out for the last two seasons but at this rate he will be sent out on loan again or sold if anyone will have him. Subbed after 70 minutes.


Samuelsen - 7

Looked bright and eager to impress after shining on his debut against Peterborough on Saturday with a goal. The 18-year-old could be the surprise package of West Ham's season after his move from Manchester City and the Europa League could be the perfect place for him to get vital competitive first team action.

Lee - 7

In the short 20-minute period he was on the pitch youth striker Lee showed more passion, desire and willing than Maiga did in 70. Got West Ham's winner over in Andorra in the last round and will have felt hard done by to miss out to someone like Maiga this time around. A strange decision by Bilic as Lee is the future and Maiga the very distant past.

Poyet - 6

Was only on for 10 minutes and not really involved in the game through no fault of his own as West Ham were going all out for the win.

SUBS NOT USED: Randolph, Collins, Hendrie, Pike.

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