Big Sam hails second-half show

Sam Allardyce was happy to see his West Ham United side recover from a poor first-half display to score a sensational 4-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Southampton.

The Hammers were second-best to the Saints for much of the opening 45 minutes at the Boleyn Ground, but two goals in the opening three minutes of the second period completely changed the complexion of the game. Mark Noble's free-kick squirmed in before Kevin Nolan converted Yossi Benayoun's low cross to put West Ham in charge.

Although Adam Lallana pulled a goal back for Nigel Adkins' men with a rasping half-volley, Big Sam's men regained the composure and control of proceedings through Noble's penalty and a sensational individual effort from substitute Modibo Maiga.

Speaking to West Ham TV, Big Sam admitted his players had been far from their best before half-time, but praised their collective ability and determination to turn things in their favour after the interval.

"Like everybody else, I was dumbfounded by the first half and our lacklustre performance," said the manager. "The only good thing we did was to not allow Southampton any real chances even though we weren't playing to our best. We didn't score a goal that would have made things easier for us and it was hugely difficult for us before half-time.

"At half-time, without me telling them, the lads knew they were under par and I just said 'You've got to do the right things better and your work-rate, energy and tempo have got to be lifted by 15 or 20 per cent - not just five per cent. I told them that once that tempo was lifted and we put pressure on the opposition, they are a struggling side near bottom of the league with not a lot of confidence and they will make mistakes, which they did.

"The second goal, in particular, their left-back has been caught in possession by Yossi and he has made a brilliant ball for Kevin to score. That was the thing we were looking for and we got that right from the start of the second half. In the space of just a few minutes we were two-nil up because our attitude and desire to get forward and on the front foot and stop the opposition from doing what they wanted to do.

"They made a lot of mistakes and we went on to win comfortably four-one in the second half and, for me, it was great to see that fourth goal - not only for the quality of it but for Modibo, who has been patiently sat in the wings since he arrived in this country from Sochaux. That goal will do him the absolute world of good because it was his first goal in the Premier League. He has scored in the Capital One Cup and he has scored while he has been away on international duty and scored again today, so he's made a big impact and that's a great for us, especially with the injury list we have got at the moment."

Kevin Nolan

The opening goal saw Noble's free-kick bounce past James Collins and a host of other bodies before bouncing into the top corner past a wrong-footed Artur Boruc. While some untrained eyes may claim the strike was fortunate, the manager said it was down to good planning.

"We always play those free-kicks and tell them that what we want them to do is to hit the target. If you deliver the ball with enough quality, the goalkeeper has to stay static until there is a touch. If there is not a touch, then he has to try to dive and save it, but by that time it is often too late. The attacking and defending players are running in and normally by the time the ball gets to them then they are only six yards out.

"If we get a touch we might score, they might get a touch and score or if nobody gets a touch then the 'keeper has to try to save it. He cannot make the move until it has gone over all the players and by that time it has bounced past him. It's a little bit lucky, but the accuracy of the ball is what creates the goal. To score almost immediately after that was brilliant.

"We got a really good performance in the last 45 minutes and any win is fabulous, but to score four goals in the second half after the way we played in the first was a brilliant response from all of the players."

Kick It Out

Big Sam was impressed by the impact made by his fringe players, with the likes of Benayoun, James Tomkins and Maiga showing that they can contribute positively when called upon.

"They did well. James has been chomping at the bit and has been really frustrated and, because of his lack of matches, has had cramp catch up with him at the end. It's not that serious. We're on our bare bones defensively with no Guy Demel, Matt Taylor or Joey O'Brien. The back four had to stay solid with James playing out of position and they've done it and produced a brilliant result.

"The football in the second half was what we wanted to see, coupled with the result, so hopefully everyone will wake up tomorrow and forget about the first half and just remember the second half and the win."

The result served as a perfect birthday present for the manager, who turned 58 on Friday - although he jokingly admitted the number is no longer important!

"I like them to fly under the radar at my age! I actually had a great night with my very good friend Mike Garstang at the solicitors charity do at the Grosvenor House Hotel, so I celebrated it there with him. This was a bigger present for me - the lads winning and getting a four-one victory.

"Fourteen points from eight games is top-drawer."