Saturday, 30th November 2013
The Dutchman insisted ahead of this afternoon's game that his job would be on the line should his Fulham side end up defeated at the Boleyn Ground in this battle of the strugglers. Now, having succumbed to a 3-0 thrashing against a previously goal-shy West Ham, Jol is staring down the barrel.
Allardyce, had he been on the losing side would have been facing similar pressure following West Ham's recent run of poor form. But there will be few complaints from Irons fans tonight after Big Sam's team comfortably overcame Fulham - even if they were forced to ensure several nailbiting second half minutes before the all-important second goal arrived eight minutes from the end of normal time.
Allardyce's False Nine experiment, employed since the unexpected 3-0 win at Tottenham was dismissed in order to accommodate Modibo Maiga. Joe Cole and Ravel Morrison were both victim of Big Sam's post-Chelsea cull as the Hammers went for a more traditional 4-3-3.
It was to prove a wise decision by the manager as his side went on to enjoy almost total control of the game - even if the finishing once again left a little to be desired; unsurprisingly perhaps given that prior to today, the two teams had scored just 20 goals between them in the Premier League this season.
West Ham could have taken the lead as early as the ninth minute but Maiga's point-blank header cannoned back off the post, much to Fulham's relief. Six minutes later Mo Diame volleyed over from a good position when a James Collins free kick was nodded into the mix by James Tomkins.
Collins himself should have done better three minutes later when his header from a corner missed the target entirely (although in fairness to the Welshman he was under heavy pressure at the time). Then, Stewart Downing - who terrorised Kieran Richardson on the right flank - produced a smart stop from Fulham 'keeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
Fulham had a great chance to open the scoring when George McCartney tripped Darren Bent on the perimeter of the penalty box in a rare Cottagers break, but Richardson's resulting free kick was wild. The final chance of the half fell to Kevin Nolan, but his volley was easy for the Fulham 'keeper.
No doubt encouraged to carry on as before, West Ham finally had the bit of luck they had perhaps been lacking this season.
With the second half just three minutes old, Mo Diame strode forward before pulling the trigger some 25 yards from goal. It looked to be an easy save for Stekelenburg - before a deflection off ex-Hammer Scott Parker left the 'keeper wrong-footed as the ball sailed past him into an empty net.
With their tails up, West Ham looked to add a killer second. On the hour mark, Maiga attempted a curler into the far post that Stekelenburg did well to turn aside. Then, Guy Demel and Diame combined beautifully on the right before setting up Matt Jarvis for a header that he aimed right at the 'keeper.
James Tomkins then saw his header from a Stewart Downing corner turned off the line by Darren Bent - his only notable contribution of a dismal performance from the man who once rejected a £16million move to the Boleyn Ground - before Downing almost got lucky with a dipping cross-cum-shot that clipped the top of the bar.
Frustrated at his team's inability to score that vital second goal, Allardyce introduced Joe Cole, Carlton Cole and Ravel Morrison as the half wore on - all of whom had a point to prove. And Big Sam couldn't have asked for a better response, for within 90 seconds of replacing Maiga - who left the field to well-deserved applause - that goal finally arrived via the boot of Carlton Cole.
Morrison, introduced in order to exploit space in the final third rolled a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of the onrushing Downing. The winger's centre was delivered into that corridor of uncertainty along the edge of the six-yard box where Cole, as he has done so often in the past, was waiting to pounce for his first goal since re-joining the club.
Finally relaxed, West Ham started to play some exhibition stuff. Diame wasted a clear opportunity to shoot, preferring a little bit of showboating instead that came to nothing. More Morrison trickery led to a penalty shout as the youngster appeared to be tripped on the edge of the box, but play was waved on.
However the Fulham defence was to breached one final time - and once again, Morrison was the architect. The youngster tricked his way down the left before cutting inside. Paying close attention to his run was fellow sub Joe Cole, who was rewarded for his diligence with an inviting pass from Morrison that he placed firmly, expertly, into Stekelenburg's bottom right-hand corner.
The final whistle was greeted, correctly, by rapturous applause and once again all was well in east London. The three points not only take West Ham up a couple of notches in the BPL table to 15th, but more importantly grant the Irons a three-point cushion above the drop zone.
Attention now turns to an equally-important fixture less than 72 hours from now when Allardyce takes his team south of the river to face Crystal Palace, currently bottom of the Premier League. A win at Selhurst Park against the Eagles, beaten 1-0 at Norwich this afternoon, could take the Hammers back into the upper half of the table - should other results go their way too.
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Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Man of the Match: .
West Ham United
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Booked: None booked. .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Subs not used: .
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..
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