Big Sam hails vital Hull victory

West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce hailed a vital 2-1 home Barclays Premier League victory over Hull City.

The Hammers won a strange match to climb above the Tigers in the table, taking advantage of a first-half penalty from Mark Noble which also saw Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor sent-off, as well as James Chester's own-goal eight minutes after the break.

Moments before Chester's unfortunate strike, the ten men of Hull had levelled in equally bizarre fashion when Tom Huddlestone's free-kick flew in off the shoulder of Nikica Jelavic.

"I think that we have had a very unusual night. For the first time this season, we have had to play against ten men. Where normally we've had to play with ten men this year and won, tonight the opposition have gone down to ten men and not won, and I think everyone should really remember that.

"Remember how well we did here against Swansea and away at Cardiff with ten men. Well, this time Hull have gone down to ten men and they haven't won and that's the most important thing.

"The three defeats on the trot made us a bit tentative out there, but we got what we needed and that's a big three points against one of our rivals in the table. We've gone above them now and they're behind us and that was the critical point of what this game was all about.

"It wasn't about anything else other than winning the game and if we could have won with a lot more flair and ability, that would have been fine, but sometimes you have to win ugly. When we all get up tomorrow, we'll know we are that much closer to surviving in this great league for another year and trying to build on what we've done over the last two years.

"We've got a bit to go still and we've got to focus and concentrate, but that was a massive three points for us."

The opening goal arrived on 26 minutes - a full five minutes after Mike Dean had awarded a penalty for McGregor's foul on Mohamed Diame. The spot-kick came after Noble's pass had hit two Hull defenders and bounced off Diame's hand into his path, but Big Sam was not complaining!

"McGregor has definitely just rugby-tackled him and there is no question over whether it was a penalty or not. I suppose the best thing Maynor Figueroa could have done [instead of clearing off the line] was to let the ball go into the back of the net, because if he had Mike Dean might have allowed the goal to stand and Hull would have still kept eleven men on the field. As it was, it was a definite penalty and sending-off.

"Then we had the deflected goal for them and it made life a little difficult, but I was pleased we came back right away. While [the own-goal] was a little bit fortunate, it was the quality of the ball that put the defender under that much pressure that he put it in his own net."

After going ahead for a second time, West Ham spent much of the remaining 35 minutes keeping Hull at arm's length. The ten men passed the ball well, but rarely tested Adrian in the Hammers goal.

In front of him, James Tomkins and Roger Johnson - on as an early replacement for the injured James Collins - did a solid job.

"Roger did well. Jelavic and Long are why Hull have made good progress since January and are two big strikers they bought in the window. They could have made the difference for Hull, but in the end our defenders mastered them."

Next Monday evening West Ham travel to Sunderland, who lost 2-1 at Liverpool on Wednesday evening. The gap between the eleventh-placed Hammers and 18th-placed Sunderland is now nine points, so anything other than a defeat at the Stadium of Light would be most welcome.

"The big one is that we have played 31 games and got 34 points and the distance between games played and points is critical. If we stay three points ahead between now and the end of the season, we know we're going to be safe.

"We obviously want to do better than that if we can. We don't want to do anything other than get results wherever we go, starting with Sunderland on Monday night, then back here after that.

"This is certainly a big relief after we lost three games on the trot for the first time in the Premier League. There was more pressure on us than we wanted and we haven't succumbed to that pressure in the end and we've got a very important three points."