TEDDY Sheringham's goal secured a Boxing Day victory for
Alan Pardew's Hammers as they saw off Nottingham Forest 3-2 at
Matty Etherington and Sheringham had given West Ham a 2-0 lead at half-time, but after Forest had fought back to level in the second-half, Teddy's header secured three festive points for the Hammers.
Alan Pardew made two changes to the side that lost at Preston, Deepdale goalscorer Nigel Reo-Coker replacing the injured Carl Fletcher in midfield and Malky Mackay returning to the defence in place of Darren Powell, who returned to Crystal Palace this week.
Despite being separated by 16 places in the Championship, history suggested this would be a well-matched contest. In the 101 previous League meetings between the two sides, each had won 38 times, and both West Ham and Forest had gone two games without a win.
Indeed, the game began evenly on a chilly afternoon in East London. Marlon Harewood threatened early on for the Hammers, flashing the ball across the Forest goal only to see it emerge unmet on the far side of the box.
Forest had the ball in the net after ten minutes, Michael Dawson heading in Alan Rogers' cross, but the goal was ruled out for a blatant foul on Stephen Bywater.
The incident stirred up a cold Upton Park crowd, and Alan Pardew's men responded. Steve Lomas drilled a shot just wide from the edge of the area, before Harewood shrugged off Dawson and fired in a snap shot that was pushed away by Forest goalkeeper Paul Gerrard. Matty Etherington steered his follow-up effort over the bar, much to Gerrard's relief.
However, there was nowhere to hide for Gerrard just two minutes later, when West Ham took the lead. John Thompson played the ball back to his goalkeeper, but Etherington chased down the back-pass and got his reward when Gerrard's hammered clearance rebounded off him into the net.
With a goal scored and nerves settled, Alan Pardew's men began to take control. Harewood bundled his way through the Forest backline with half an hour gone and nipped the ball past Gerrard. Gasps rippled around the Boleyn Ground as the ball rolled goalwards, replaced by sighs as it trickled the wrong side of the post.
Two minutes later Teddy Sheringham saw his free-kick well saved by a full stretch Gerrard, but there was nothing the goalkeeper could do when Teddy doubled West Ham's advantage after 38 minutes. Matty Etherington swung over a corner from the left, Forest's defence did their best to avoid the ball, allowing Sheringham time and space to smash it into the roof of the net.
At the other end, West Ham's defence coped well with the probing Forest attack leaving Bywater with barely a save to make.
The same could not be said about the over-worked Gerrard, who saved well at his near post from Harewood as the half drew to a close. Still, Alan Pardew's men left the field at half-time with a commanding 2-0 lead.
The Hammers came out for the second-half looking determined to
finish Forests' resistance. They looked certain to add to their
lead when Gerrard could only shovel Harewood's shot into
the path of Sheringham, but the ball wouldn't quite drop for
the former England striker and he could only glance it wide.
Harewood had a great chance himself moments later, bursting onto a long-ball before unleashing a thunderous drive that Gerrard did well to tip over.
Dominating in attack and defence, Upton Park was stunned when Forest pulled a goal back after 65 minutes. Kris Commons, a substitute for former Hammer Andy Impey just moments earlier, swung in a cross from the right that was headed down by Neil Harris and stabbed home by David Johnson.
From nowhere, the visitors were suddenly back in the game. And two minutes later the quick-fire comeback was complete, to the shock of the 32,270 fans inside Upton Park.
Neil Harris' incisive through-ball split the Hammers defence and set Johnson away. He raced onto the ball and buried a low shot past Bywater.
Confidence boosted the visitors began to pressurise West Ham's defence. Hayden Mullins replaced Anton Ferdinand on 71 minutes, just before Neil Harris cut inside and blazed a shot over the bar.
With 76 minutes gone Gavin Williams, signed from Yeovil Town earlier this month, replaced Luke Chadwick and his first involvement in the claret and blue was to swing in a cross that just eluded the circling Teddy Sheringham.
However, when Chris Powell crossed from the opposite left flank with ten minutes left, Sheringham was found, and Alan Pardew's men were back in front. Powell fought for a yard of space and flighted the ball across for Sheringham, who rose above Dawson to plant a header past Gerrard.
A delighted Hammers crowd roared their approval, and the shouting barely had time to dissipate before Harewood twisted past the Forest defence to set up Sheringham, who shot tamely at Gerrard.
The Forest 'keeper did well to smother at the feet of Harewood soon after, before Stephen Bywater had to be alert to tip over Kris Commons' swirling effort.
The visitors pushed hard for an equaliser in the closing stages, but the Hammers held firm to secure Alan Pardew three vital points for Christmas as they head into two away games at Rotherham and Ipswich next week.