Hammers v Sheffield United

West Ham United's bright new dawn began in the perfect fashion - with three vital Premiership points against Sheffield United.

Following Eggert Magnusson's successful takeover of the Club in midweek, Hayden Mullins's 36th minute header ensured a winning start under the new regime and, just as importantly, pushed Hammers further away from the dreaded relegation zone.

Our new Icelandic owner was given a rousing welcome by the Upton Park faithful as he stepped out to mark the beginning of his new reign, and would have been just as happy with the reaction from Alan Pardew's players as they battled to a vital three points against Neil Warnock's men.

The Hammers boss had named an unchanged starting 11 following last week's narrow 1-0 defeat at Champions Chelsea, but slightly altered his formation, as Carlos Tevez moved into a more attacking role alongside Bobby Zamora and Lee Bowyer moved out to the right side of a midfield four.

The visitors, meanwhile, made just one change after their defeat against table-toppers Manchester United seven days ago, as Nick Montgomery came in for Colin Kazim-Richards.

After the pre-match introduction of Magnusson had ensured a pulsating atmosphere inside the Boleyn Ground, Hammers set about lifting spirits on the pitch and got off to a lively start, as first Zamora came close and then Lee Bowyer dropped a quick free-kick on to the toe of Tevez, who fired into the side-netting from eight yards out.

The visitors, searching for their second successive away victory, weren't going to go down without a fight, though, and began to create some opportunities of their own after weathering the early storm.

Lively striker Nicholas Law fired a fierce shot just over the angle of post and crossbar in the 17th minute, while defender Claude Davis saw a powerful header from a corner cleared off the line by Paul Konchesky moments later.

Ten minutes before the interval, Hammers saw a glorious chance go begging, when Zamora broke free on the right and skipped into the penalty area before cutting an inviting pass back to Bowyer, whose low effort took a deflection off the heel of a defender and trickled just wide of the post.

However, from the resulting corner, the hosts finally found the breakthrough they were looking for. Etherington's measured kick was flicked on by Anton Ferdinand at the near post into the six-yard box, where Mullins arrived with perfect timing to head home - an exact replica of his only previous goal this season, against Blackburn Rovers last month.

It capped off an enjoyable week for this Hammers midfielder, who signed a new long-term contract at Upton Park on Tuesday, and was again instrumental in the centre of midfield today.

Moments after their opener, Hammers almost made it two, when Konchesky's inch-perfect cross was headed just wide by Etherington, before Tevez opened up the Blades defence on the stroke of half-time with a terrific dummy and received a return pass from Bowyer, only to fire his shot straight at Paddy Kenny.

After a slow start to the second half from both sides, the game re-ignited on the hour mark when Warnock made a double substitution, sending on attackers Christian Nade and Steve Kabba in place of Quinn and Montgomery.

With his first touch of the game, Nade found himself in the clear after turning well on the edge of the box, but Hammers were rescued by Danny Gabbidon, who raced back to execute a perfectly-timed tackle and clear the danger.

Sadly, that was to be the Welsh defender's final contribution of the afternoon. The 27-year-old was left writhing in agony seconds later after stretching to send a pass-back to Robert Green, and lay prostrate behind the goal-line as play continued.

With their influential defender off the pitch, Hammers were almost made to pay by the resurgent visitors, but first Nade and then Law somehow failed to convert glorious opportunities from close range.

As Gabbidon was stretchered away with a hamstring injury that will require a scan tomorrow morning, Irish defender George McCartney stepped off the bench to fill in at centre-half - just as he had done in our last home game against Arsenal three weeks ago.

Having seen the opposition send on height and power in an attempt to force an equaliser, Pards reacted by making a double swap of his own, first introducing Teddy Sheringham in place of the impressive Tevez, and then replacing Zamora with Marlon Harewood.

With 12 minutes remaining, the 40-year-old striker produced his magic to create an excellent opportunity, rolling back a quick free-kick to the edge of the box, but Bowyer saw the chance too late and fired wide just as Mullins was about to strike for his second.

The goalscorer found himself on the end of another chance in the closing stages, as a superb passing move ended with the ball reaching him 12 yards out, but this time Kenny was equal to the low left-foot shot from Mullins. Harewood also came close after being released by Sheringham, chipping narrowly wide as Kenny rushed out to block the angle.

With four minutes added on for stoppages, there were a few hearts in mouths as the Blades threw everything but the kitchen sink into Hammers' penalty area, with the rain pouring down on a saturated Upton Park, but Ferdinand and McCartney were solid in front of the impeccable Green once again, and the final whistle eventually signalled relief, delight and, for Mr Magnusson, a successful start to his new adventure.