Gaffer hails 'well-deserved' Burnley victory

He may have been chewing his gum harder than ever in the final few minutes, but Sam Allardyce was ultimately a happy man on Saturday evening!
He may have kicked a water bottle in frustration and been chewing his gum harder than ever in the final few minutes, but Sam Allardyce was ultimately happy man on Saturday evening.

The West Ham United manager saw his side convert their first penalty of the season to condemn Burnley to a 1-0 defeat at the Boleyn Ground that pushed the Clarets closer to the Barclays Premier League trapdoor.

The Hammers took advantage of Michael Duff’s controversial red card – shown by Jonathan Moss for a foul on Cheikhou Kouyate and Mark Noble’s resulting spot-kick to climb back into ninth place, and with a positive goal difference at that.

However, that goal difference could have been significantly bolstered as West Ham unleashed 27 efforts on goal, only to find Tom Heaton and his nine remaining outfield colleagues in resolute mood. As it was, the Hammers and Big Sam had to make do with a one-goal victory.

“It’s been clear to everybody that we have struggled to put the ball in the back of the net, even though we created chance after chance,” the manager told West Ham TV. “I wouldn’t say all of it were bad finishing, because a lot of it was good defending and very good goalkeeping, particularly the save from Enner Valencia just after we’d scored the penalty.

“We go the nerve-ends jangling for everybody because, with three minutes to go, we know we were 1-0 up and what has happened to us in the recent past. We coped with it very well, so it was a very good win.

“It was a very good performance in the second half, but not so much the first, and of course we got our second penalty of the season and it was so important for us in the end because we scored it.

A second clean sheet in succession, following a goalless draw at Queens Park Rangers, pleased the boss, particularly with 18-year-old Reece Burke making his full home Barclays Premier League debut alongside the imperious James Collins.

“It was a good performance by the players stepping up to the mark to replace those who are injured and Reece Burke again I have to mention on his second appearance. It took him until Thursday to recover [from QPR] physically and mentally because he was so tired, but he did another good job.

“It was a well-deserved victory but we should have won it by an awful lot more.”
It was a well-deserved victory but we should have won it by an awful lot more
After a bright start, Burnley’s hopes all but evaporated when Duff was expelled from the pitch for his tackle on Kouyate – made after Enner Valencia had burst past a defender and set the Senegalese free.

From then on, West Ham created chance after chance – while Adrian denied Ashley Barnes from a corner – but Heaton and company produced heroics to keep their deficit to one.

During the second half siege, West Ham felt they should have had a second spot-kick, but Stewart Downing was booked for diving as he went past Ben Mee.

In the end, though, a relieved Big Sam was able to smile, shrug his shoulders and move onto next weekend’s trip to FA Cup finalists Aston Villa.

“There was no doubt it was a penalty but it was a harsh sending-off I think because there was another defender there. Those decisions have to be made in a split-second by the official and I’m not sure if Stewart Downing’s one in the second half was a penalty, but in the end it hasn’t mattered.

“If a referee gets a decision wrong against you the critical factor is that it doesn’t cost you, and we’ve still won the game, so it hasn’t cost us and we have still got three points.

“We’ve been telling everybody how important it is to keep clean sheets and it has finally hit home over the last two games because we have collected two of them and four points.”