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West Ham Utd 4 Blackpool 0

Filed: Saturday, 15th October 2011
By: Staff Writer

Sam Allardyce's team produced their best performance of the season so far to see off the challenge of Blackpool with consumate ease at the BG this afternoon.

Despite dominating the visitors from virtually the opening whistle, it was a purple patch at the beginning of the second half - during which three goals were bagged in just eight stunning minutes - that was largely responsible for West Ham's biggest win since demolishing current Premier League champions Manchester United by the same score last November.

Recent signing Sam Baldock grabbed a brace for the Hammers - his first since moving from MK Dons - whilst Jack Collison and fellow striker John Carew also got in on the act. Both front men - featuring in a rarely-seen Allardyce 4-4-2 line-up - were in top form today and instrumental in the win that lifts West Ham into the automatic promotion spots for the first time this season.

United were simply a different class to the side that were, quite frankly, awful against Ipswich in their last outing at the Boleyn. Oddly, the Hammers registered only three more efforts on target today that they did against the Tractor boys - ten shots to seven - but that was where the similarities ended.

Most evident today was that Allardyce's side were far more adventurous in attack than in recent home outings, where 'safety first' has perhaps been considered of more importance. Whenever West Ham pushed forward they did so in numbers, with five or more pressing in the final third on most occasions.

It was from one such foray that the Irons opened their account; with just 12 minutes on the clock - and having survived the customary early scare - Sam Baldock's persistance paid off when forcing an error that was pounced upon by Julien Faubert.

The Frenchman, playing at right back once again in the continued absence of Joey O'Brien and Guy Demel (who is still to make his debut) delivered a pinpoint cross that John Carew rose highest to meet and guide into the far corner of a static Matt Gilks' goal.

The Norwegian striker, notching his second goal in consecutive games following his first at Crystal Palace a fortnight ago went on to sqander a brace of gilt-edged opportunities before half time. Sent through with just the 'keeper to beat twice, the 32-year-old fluffed his lines by firing straight at Gilks on each occasion.

Those misses were the only negatives from a sterling first 45 minutes' work from Carew, who constantly had the beating of his markers both in the air and on the ground throughout. But with the experienced partner in the front two misfiring, it was left to young upstart Sam Baldock to show the former Valencia and Roma striker just how it should be done.

With barely 100 seconds on the clock after the restart Matt Taylor threaded a great ball through for the 22-year-old, who brought back memories of a young Tony Cottee when sizing up his target before firing beyond Gilks into the bottom right corner to register his first goal for the club.

Just four minutes later the youngster was celebrating again when he made it 3-0. Kevin Nolan, who produced an efficient performance in the centre of the park put John Carew behind the defence but the Norwegian's first touch was poor. However Baldock seised on the opportunity and once again echoed former Hammer Cottee when beating two defenders to the ball which he prodded over the line.

With Blackpool still recoiling from Baldock's second goal of the afternoon, Jack Collison make it 4-0 with 55 minutes on the clock. The Welsh international, still feeling his way back from a year-long absence was perfectly positioned to pick up on John Carew's half-cleared shot. Positioned on the edge of the penalty area, Collison fired home through a crowd of bodies to record West Ham's third goal in eight minutes.

With the points in the bag, United took their foot off the gas and the final third of the game was little more than a high-intensity training exercise. Freddie Sears, Abdoulaye Faye and Mark Noble all got valuable match experience as the game teetered towards its inevitable conclusion.

Indeed, the biggest cheer for the remainder of the game was reserved for a groundsman who was forced to jog halfway round the pitch to replace a broken corner-flag, snapped in two by an impetuous kick from a disgruntled Alex Baptiste.

Having made his way from the dug-out to the corner between the Trevor Brooking and East Stands to replace the flag - twice, having forgotten to take a replacement flag on the first occasion - the embarrased groundsman ignored calls from the Trevor Brooking Lower to 'give us a wave' which naturally resulted in a chorus of, 'who the f**ing Hell are you?' from both home and away fans.

That episode summed up the mood prevalant amongst West Ham's supporters leaving the stadium; unanimously in good spirit having witnessed a performance full of hope and promise.

It was also the perfect platform for a series of tricky games that await this month - a series that encompasses a home encounter with Leicester (29th October) plus trips to Brighton (24th October) and current table-toppers Southampton this coming Tuesday evening (18th October).

West Ham Utd 4 Blackpool 0: match facts

West Ham Utd: Manuel Almunia, Julien Faubert, James Tomkins (Abdoulaye Faye 60), Winston Reid, George McCartney, Jack Collison, Kevin Nolan, Papa Bouba Diop, Matthew Taylor (Freddie Sears 62), Sam Baldock, John Carew (Mark Noble 80).

Subs not used: Ruud Boffin, Frederic Piquionne.

Goals: John Carew (12), Sam Baldock (47, 51), Jack Collison (55).

Booked: Matt Taylor (7), Julien Faubert (17).

Blackpool: Matthew Gilks, Alex Baptiste, Ian Evatt, Matthew Hill, Stephen Crainey, Jonjo Shelvey (Lomana Tresor LuaLua73), Keith Southern, Barry Ferguson, Thomas Ince (Brett Ormerod 72), Kevin Phillips (Daniel Bogdanovic 73), Gary Taylor-Fletcher.

Subs not used: Neal Eardley, Mark Howard.

Booked: Lomana Tresor LuaLua (90).

Referee: Andy D'Urso (4).

Assistants: David Rock, Stuart Butler.

Fourth Official: Graham Horwood.

Attendance: 31,448.

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