After an utterly inept first half, where we offered nothing going forward and could have conceded twice, a different team emerged from the dressing room for the second half, inspired by Carlton Cole. He has his critics but his attitude is beyond reproach and today he notched up the two crucial assits that saw West Ham through to a precious, precious victory.
Cole wasn't the only hero in a much more impressive second half. Noble too had a part in both goals, Baldock added to his tally with another neat finish, Collison rounded off a fine move for the second, and Faye and Green played their part in taming the Tigers when they threatened. The fact that Green was required to make three saves in the last five minutes of the game is a worry, but overall, this was a much more impressive second half.
Noble knockers should note that after two successive MOTM awards, the Academy product was heavily involved in both goals. The first, from a Noble corner, saw Cole head on and Baldock bury the chance expertly. For the second, Noble led the charge before passing to Cole, who slipped the ball through perfectly for Collison to score. A goal created from open play and passing football; Allardyce will be bemused!
The centre of the defence opened up a few times - which is a concern - but, for the most part Faye looked massive. He blocked, he tackled, he closed, he hacked the ball clear. It wasn't pretty but we don't need pretty defenders - we've had far too many through the years. Faye may just be our new Collins, a player who should never have been allowed to leave, of course.
Overall, this was a pleasing performance. The first half was utterly uninspiring but Cole made all the difference when he came on for the labouring Carew. Was the Norwegian still feeling his injury or was it just a bad day at the office? One thing's for sure, Cole transformed us! But then, he plays well against Hull, doesn't he?
Credit where credit is due, Allardyce fired them up in the dressing room for the second half and made the right decision to send on Cole. We remain very ordinary at home, but on the road we seem to have it sussed. It's a shame that Southampton can turn it on both home and away!
Green 8 (one clownish moment when he punched the ball into his own hands!) Faubert 6, Faye 8, Tomkins 5, McCartney 6, Diop 6, Collison 6, Noble 7, Nolan 5, Baldock 7, Carew 4 Subs Cole 9, Sears 6, Piquionne 5