Baggies win tastes great for Sam

Any victory over West Bromwich Albion would be sweet for a Wolverhampton Wanderers fan, but Tuesday's 2-1 victory at The Hawthorns must have tasted extra special for West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce.

In April, West Ham left West Brom looking over their shoulders nervously at the Barclays Premier League relegation zone following a meek 1-0 surrender. In the Smethwick End, a section of the Claret and Blue Army voiced their displeasure at the performance of Sam Allardyce's team.

Fast forward eight months and Big Sam was back in his native Black Country leading the Hammers to another impressive victory - their seventh in 14 league games this term - and strengthening their position in the top five.

As the travelling fans jubilantly sang 'Barcelona, we're coming for you!' and 'We're going to win the league!', the manager hailed the confidence of his players to recover from a goal down to win this time around.

"I've got a lot of disappointed lads who are trying to get into the team and they're finding it difficult, but they've got to stay hungry," Big Sam told West Ham TV. "When injuries have come they've stepped into the team and been hungry enough to do their job and that happened again here, wth Kevin Nolan stepping in, Enner Valencia getting back and Winston Reid back from suspension.

"We had no Mark Noble, Alex Song and Diafra Sakho, but we've got players who have come on the field and tried to make us better than we were before.

"They're all desperate to get on the pitch and keep this run going and show what they can do.

"We've used a huge amount of players already this season and we're still winning games of football, which is great."

As they did at Everton in their previous away fixture, West Ham started slowly, falling behind to Craig Dawson's tenth-minute header from a Graham Dorrans free-kick.

Just as Big Sam was discussing scrapping his 4-4-1-1 formation with assistant Neil McDonald and first-team coach Ian Hendon, the Hammers rediscovered their passing rhythm and started creating chance after chance.

Kevin Nolan was denied an acrobatic equaliser by Ben Foster, but the captain made no mistake on 35 minutes when he turned home after Andy Carroll's own overhead kick was blocked by the Baggies goalkeeper.

And it got even better for the Big Sam and his players in the third minute of added time when Cheikhou Kouyate forced Foster to push the ball aside for a corner. Stewart Downing delivered to the far post and James Tomkins rose above Dawson to power his header past Foster.

In the second half, the manager did change his system, bringing on a third centre-half in James Collins and sending on fit-again speed merchant Enner Valencia for Carroll in a bid to play on the counter-attack. The tactics worked thanks to a resilient defensive display and a number of important saves from Adrian.

"It was a very strange game, because we made a disappointing start, like we did at Everton and never got fired up and into our passing game until we went a goal down again," a proud Big Sam observed.

"The odds are very poor against a team that goes a goal down away from home to come back and win, because it doesn't happen very often.

"The way we took control of the game from when they scored to when we got the ultimate winning goal right on the stroke of half-time was a fantastic piece of turnaround play in a game.

"I have all the stats written up on the board at half-time - how many crosses we've put in, how many set plays we've had, how many shots on goal we've had - and we'd had a staggering seven shots on target and five more off-target in the first half.

"That shows that, if anything, we should have been more than 2-1 up and our poor finishing meant we probably should have had more.

"Certainly Andy Carroll's overhead kick made the first goal with his technique and Kevin was on hand and he knows how to sniff those out and score, which is very important for us.

"Then, of course, James Tomkins' header off the corner right on half-time killed West Brom off, I think, even though they put up a spirited fight after half-time. We looked a little fatigued after Saturday so we decided to sure it up and the lads did a fantastic job doing that in the end.

"The game changed in many ways and we changed with it and, finally, we've won it and have 24 points from 14 points which is a fantastic total."

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