Barnsley victory boosts Big Sam

West Ham United returning to winning ways with a deserved 1-0 home win against Barnsley that delighted Sam Allardyce.

The impressive Papa Bouba Diop's sixth-minute header, his first for the club, from Mark Noble's corner was all that separated the sides in front of a sold-out Boleyn but the match was also noteworthy for Big Sam being sent to the stands late on by referee Scott Mathieson.

The manager had seemingly reacted in the wake of an "outraegous" challenge on debutant Daniel Potts and then a foul on Freddie Sears as he broke on goal, having already been fuming when a first-half penalty appeal by Freddie Piquionne was waved away.

Despite his dismissal, the manager preferred to focus on the tremendous defensive display from a makeshift back four that saw Abdoulaye Faye limp out in the warm-up and 17-year-old Potts, who only signed his first pro deal this week, rising to the occasion.

"It was a fantastic win," said Big Sam. "What we had to cope with was not just Barnsley being a very good team but also a very potent striking force. They have won four out of the last five and they even scored three in the one they lost. 

"They are on their best run of the season and I think that to have a back four like we had in the end - Henri Lansbury, George McCartney, Daniel Potts and James Tomkins - and get a clean sheet is great credit to the whole team. The lads in front worked so hard knowing that our back four was weakened."

Potts, son of club legend Steve, was a star turn at left-back, sending in some great crosses and standing up manfully to the challenge posed by the visitors. It was Kevin Nolan who was named by the match sponsors as the player of the game but few in the crowd agreed - with Potts seemingly the popular choice.

"It was a great debut from Pottsy, really very good defensively and in possession," said the manager.

"We had Daniel in the last couple of days in case Abdoulaye wasn't going to be fit, we played him in a couple of sessions with the back four. As in terms of training with the first-team squad, he has been doing that for a few weeks now. He has been used to coming and training with the senior players and of course to perform like that is great credit to him and his family.

"This is a 1-0 win that is very important to us on the back of the circumstances we come into the game. We had Injuries and suspensions before we started and when we did start, one player in the warm-up pulls up. It went from bad to worse to desperate but we still won the game and won well."

The manager confirmed that John Carew went off with a back spasm while right-back Julien Faubert could not finish the game because of a hamstring complaint. It meant Henri Lansbury returned off the bench for the first time since 18 October and had to fill in at the back, making the clean sheet even more remarkable.

Robert Green was a huge factor in that too and earned individual praise for a couple of outstanding stops, including one in the crucial early stages of the second half. Carlton Cole also led the line well and one twisting turning move had the Barnsley defence in knots and nearly led to a second Hammers goal. 

"Arguably we should have been more up at half-time and more comfortable. The Robert Green save became a match-turning point just after half-time and I thought overall we deserved to win it.

"Everything was against us today and we have come through with a victory. I am really pleased for the boys."