West Ham 3 Derby County 1

Today West Ham won again, but it was another game where a strong second-half showing was needed, as the Hammers made it five wins from six to cut the gap on leaders Southampton to just two points.

Carlton Cole, one of two changes in the starting eleven, headed in superbly after a right-wing cross from Joey O’Brien, the other alteration from the week before.

Kevin Nolan then lashed in a stunning volley for his first goal in the claret and blue at Upton Park. Mark Noble’s penalty made the game safe, meaning the only low note was a hamstring injury for Sam Baldock. On the plus side, Matt Taylor returned off the bench for a late cameo after his calf injury.

Match Report from WHUFC.com:

For Big Sam, there was much to savour about his team’s 3-1 success which made it 16 points out of a possible 18. “We have become the second-half team,” he said. “At the start of the season we were the first-half team, scoring within 15 minutes of nearly every game.

“I have to say it was tough going today in the first half. It was probably down to the system we played, the 4-4-2. We weren’t controlling midfield enough and we weren’t really at the races compared to our normal form.

“The second half performance was more like we know we can be. We saw the best of our players, better movement, better options and more fluent football.

“It is always difficult to recover when you go down one nil. We have done that twice on the trot now, not that I want to carry on like that mind. It was a great win in the end, a great second-half performance and off we go to Middlesbrough on Tuesday.”

Baldock’s loss was also keenly felt, with the striker having been the most potent threat in the opening stages. “Sam got in a couple of times,” said the manager. “His injury was another reason for our first-half performance.

“One we weren’t playing very well and two, Sam had been our strongest player for sneaking behind their back four. We had him in a couple of times in the first 15 minutes but Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan couldn’t get a grip of the game.

“So we put Jack Collison into midfield, changed to a 4-3-3 and those three talented players got us control of the match. It worked an absolute treat and they never got out of their half in the second half.”

With Julien Faubert turning in a man of the match display., the manager was asked to describe the transformation in the Frenchman’s form. “It is about the atmosphere we have, and the culture we are building at the training ground. It is about being comfortable with each other and looking forward to training. Working hard and enjoying all the benefits together by producing results.

“Julien has felt comfortable in the environment for the first time. I appreciate his ability and of course someone like Julien, we had to get the best out of if we could because it was big money when he came here. Now we are seeing the benefit of him playing consistently and consistently well.

“He was well deserving of the man of the match award and long may it continue. The bottom line is he is working hard. He is creating so many opportunities to receive the ball and hurt the opposition, that is the real benefit for Julien.”

The manager also reserved special praise for Freddie Piquionne, with another star turn off the bench after his goal at the Ricoh Arena last week. He was fouled in the area for the penalty, after tremendous build-up play by Faubert and then Collison to set him free

“For the second time, Freddie Piquionne has come on and done a really good job. The only disappointing thing is he should have scored again. He needs to crown a good performance off with a goal.

“He had two headers and one he ran into with his touch. We know he is getting the chances which is the pleasing thing.”

The manager was delighted with Nolan’s “absolutely brilliant” goal, and he was keen to remind that the skipper was not signed for his creative play, good as it can be, but as a match-winner and goalscorer from midfield who operates in the final third and in and around the penalty area.

“It was the goal of the game, and his first one here which is really pleasing. The fans saw his outstanding quality. To get one at home, I hope he can kick on from there.”

It remains to be seen what changes the manager may make at the Riverside on Tuesday, with Carlton Cole suffering from cramp in the closing stages and as Baldock is set to be out for a period of time. The likes of Papa Bouba Diop and Freddie Sears will be desperate to make the 16 as will Guy Demel, who was an unused substitute.

“It is just a disappointing loss with Sam. That is why you have to go with four strikers. At least we have Freddie, John Carew and Carlton Cole still to choose from. Bearing in mind where we came from today, I thought it was an outstanding recovery and an outstanding performance in the second half.”

So good news with The Hammers maintaining their fine form, Southampton we’re coming to get you!

Tompkins Interest Laughed Off

Queens Park Rangers reported interest in signing West Ham United centre back James ‘Tonks’ Tomkins has been ignored  by West Ham.

The 22-year-old centre half has been in fine form in the opening half of the season putting in a string of impressive performances.

Such performances were sure to attract the interest of other clubs and QPR are the first to make a move for the player.

Rangers manager Neil Warnock said he values at Tompkin’s ‘around the £3million mark’.

However that valuation has been laughed off by West Ham United, with an unnamed insider telling Harris Harris of ESPN that “we wouldn’t sell him for that” adding, “he has nearly three years left on his contract, he’s not for sale.”

I honestly hope that we don’t go back to the days of selling our best young players. Tompkins is a great player in the making as far as I am concerned and we need to keep players like him to compete if/when we get back in the Premier League.

Coventry 1 – 2 West Ham

West Ham came from 1 – 0 down against Coventry to win 2 – 1 and secure 3 points and a great comeback.

The Hammers had around 6,500 fans cheering them on at the Ricoh Arena, so the outstanding away day support continues.

“It is a satisfying afternoon,” Sam Allardyce said. “It is a great result to come back having gone a goal down at half-time. It is the first time we have shown this type of character.

“We were disappointed in our performance in the first half but we did something about it. Me by changing the system [from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2] and the players by performing better. They exerted pressure on Coventry which ended up paying off for us.”

That makes it four wins and a draw from the last five matches for Big Sams team, that’s promotion form right there I hope.

Sir Geoff Honoured At Wembley

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Big Sam Staggered At Green Omission

Sam Allardyce today spoke to London’s Evening Standard about his shock at Robert Greens omission from Fabio Capello’s latest England Squad.

“I’m staggered because Rob’s right back at the top of his game following his knee operation,” said the West Ham manager, speaking to the Evening Standard. “I would even say Rob is better than before because his knee hadn’t been 100 per cent for some little time before he had the op.

“If Fabio is looking for the friendlies with Spain and Sweden as principally preparation for Euro 2012 next summer, then I can’t see beyond Rob. Joe Hart is currently the first choice for the England goalkeeper’s jersey but if they want someone capable of ­challenging the Manchester City man, then I can’t think of anyone better than Rob.

I don’t believe that playing in the Championship with West Ham should be a handicap for him. It’s far better for a keeper to be playing regularly in the Championship than sporadically in the Premier League.”

Green has been in fantastic form for The Hammers since returning from injury, during which Manuel Almunia kept watch between the sticks.

I am surprised myself as Greens form has been impressive, on top of that most of the keepers in the Premier League who could mount some form of challenge to Joe Hart have retired or made themselves unavailable.

Gollivan: Support Is Amazing

Joint-Chairman David Gold and David Sullivan or Gollivan as I like to call them, took time out today to thank the supporters on WHUFC.COM for their amazing match day attendance.

Hammers fans continue to set the standard in the npower Championship – with an incredible 6,313 heading to Coventry City on Saturday week.

The claret and blue faithful have been impressive at the Boleyn Ground this season but their devotion has been particularly striking away from home. After helping Southampton and Brighton & Hove Albion to set record attendances, they then contributed to the biggest crowd of the campaign at Hull City last weekend.

Joint-Chairman David Sullivan hailed the support. “It’s totally amazing,” he told whufc.com. “I’ve never known such amazing away support so early in the season.

“The club is so proud of our travelling away supporters. Not only do they make a massive amount of noise, but they are impeccably well behaved. Every one of them is a true ambassador for the club.”

With more than a month to go as well until the trip to Reading on Saturday 10 December, more than 70 per cent of the 4,200 allocation has already gone.

We may not be in the Premier League at the moment but our support could be put half of the Premier League clubs to shame!

Hammers Win At Hull

West Ham won  at Hull today 2-0 to keep up the good recent form and in particular the excellent away form.

Carlton Cole we the man behind both goals, nodding on for Bladock to bury a chance from close range, and then slipping Jack Collison through to dispatch his shot past the keeper.

“It is a difficult place to come and play,” the manager said, acknowledging that Hull had not lost at home since August and that he was so limited in options that promising 17-year-old defender Danny Potts – son of Steve – was on the bench.

“We know how good Hull are and we set out to see what they had to offer. We defended very well in the first half but apart from Julien Faubert’s three crosses down the side, which were very good and we didn’t get on the end of, I think we could have done a bit more in possession.

“We changed it around in the second half by bringing Carlton Cole on and dropping Kevin Nolan deeper into midfield. We wanted to get control and we said let’s go and score first, let’s go and attack Hull City from the very start.”

That second-half salvo, with the Hammers roared on by 2,500 travelling fans, was what finished off the home side’s hopes. “It allowed us to win the game. First the corner – a good ball, great header, great finish with Sam pulling off to score. The second goal was great passing and movement and resulted in a one-on-one and a very composed finish from Jack.

“We had won the game so we don’t need to go and chase it. We can sit and let the opposition have possession in front of us and see the game out. We broke when we got the opportunity.

“We didn’t do that as well as I would have liked but it was a fantastic result and a great performance in terms of how we changed tactically throughout the game. We were ruthlessly clinical when it came to our good period. We nailed Hull and come away with a well-earned 2-0 victory.”

Good to see another very professional away performance, it’s certainly something I am not used to seeing from The Hammers, before if we went past Watford it was like we were jinxed not to get any points. This season has allowed us to rebuild with a new manager, new players and new outlook!

Reid Out Injured

Winston Reid could be out for several weeks after dislocating a shoulder against Bristol City last night during the 0 – 0 draw.
The New Zealand international, who is now becoming a regular fixture in Sam Allardyce’s first team fell awkwardly after defending a cross in the first few minutes of the game.

After receiving some treatment on the pitch he was substituted and left the field of play holding his left arm.

Sam Allardyce confirmed the bad news. “He’s been to hospital and the dislocated shoulder has been put back into place,” he said – before revealing that he would be using the forthcoming two-week international break to find fresh blood.

“It will be another search in the loan market very, very quickly to see if we can find a quality player who will help us with the numbers at the moment.”

Lets hope he gets back playing soon as I thought he was starting to build a good understanding and partnership with James Tompkins.