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Cardiff City 0-2 West Ham Utd

Filed: Saturday, 11th January 2014
By: Staff Writer

When Sunderland's Adam Johnson put Sunderland ahead at Fulham midway through the first half, West Ham were condemned to the bottom of the real-time Premier League.

However by 5pm tonight the Hammers were out of the relegation zone entirely after grinding out a hugely-encouraging 2-0 win away to fellow strugglers Cardiff City.

Dismissing any notions that Sam Allardyce had lost the support of the dressing room, West Ham were a determined, hard-working unit today and although they faced one or two major scares, goals from Carlton Cole - his third in six games - and Mark Noble were enough to secure a huge win.

Defeat today could have been catastrophic for the Hammers lost, who would have been left four points adrift of safety tonight after Sunderland eventually thrashed Fulham 4-1. Yet despite the two-goal winning margin Hammers fans were made to wait until the third minute of injury time before victory was finally secured thanks to stand-in captain Noble.

The good news for Sam Allardyce going into the game was the return of James Tomkins, meaning the manager could field two central defenders for the first time this year. However his game plan was blown apart in the opening minutes when Guy Demel suffered what appeared to be a facial injury that required treatment for TEN minutes before he was finally stretchered off the pitch.

George McCartney, who replaced Tomkins was to be magnificent, a constant thorn in red sides - as were the rest of his team mates, who soaked up considerable pressure from Cardiff before securing all three points with two well-taken goals.

The first arrived in the 42nd minute of 55 played in the first half by referee Lee Mason as a result of the injury to the unfortunate Demel. Matt Taylor's lofted pass found Matt Jarvis, who centred the ball for Carlton Cole who stole in front of his marker and smashed the ball into the corner of (the in-form) David Marshall's net.

Despite being under the cosh for much of the second period - and even more so after a second yellow card for James Tomkins resulted in West Ham being reduced to ten men for the final 18 minutes of normal time - Allardyce's charges continued to throw their bodies in front of shots and crosses time after time as the West Ham defence bowed, but refused to buckle.

And with three of the four added-on minutes already played, a rare excursion into Cardiff territory resulted in the killer second. Andy Carroll, whose first touch after replacing Cole was greeted by the sort of applause usually reserved for a 90th-minute winning goal received a long throw down the flank that he moved inside for an advancing Noble, who fired expertly into the far corner.

The home side, who take West Ham's place in the relegation zone as a result of today's reversal - their sixth consecutive defeat against the Hammers - will be bemoaning a string of missed opportunities, as Lady Luck came out on United's side for a change.

Shortly before West Ham took the lead an accidental deflection off referee Mason gave the Hammers the initiative. And later in the first half, Bo-Kyung Kim's shot took a deflection off Roger Johnson which beat a wrong-footed Adrian but not his crossbar. Goal-line technology, possibly used in a West Ham fixture for the first time ever, proved the South Korean's shot had not crossed the line.

The second half saw a string of penalty appeals from an increasingly-desperate Cardiff, one of which at least appeared to have some merit. However the Hammers held on for a rare away win, hopefully taking with it the first step to rescuing what still threatens to be a disastrous season.

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