West Ham ease to win over Watford
Watford 0 West Ham 4
Three games into the campaign, Sam Allardyce has got West Ham United firing on all cylinders writes STEVE BLOWERS.
After seeing his side bag their first points of the season at Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, Big Sam saw James Tomkins, Joey O’Brien, Carlton Cole and Scott Parker secure another valuable victory at Vicarage Road.
In August 2006, the Hammers had seen Bobby Zamora’s equaliser at Watford secure a brief overnight stay at the very top of the Premier League.
Never mind the summit, five years on, West Ham would be grateful just to be in that top-flight but if they carry on stinging teams like they did the Hornets, then an instant return to the big-time simply looks odds-on.
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Allardyce had made just one tactical change from the side that had won at the Keepmoat Stadium as Cole was called up for his first start of the season in place of substitute Frederic Piquionne.
And having fine-tuned the East Enders’ engine, the Hammers boss did not have to wait long for his team to purr into the lead.
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With just two minutes on the clock, Matt Taylor saw his 25-yard free-kick palmed aside at full stretch by Scott Loach but when the West Ham wide-boy floated over the consequent corner, the England U-21 keeper was given no protection by his defence, who allowed an unmarked Tomkins to powerfully nod home at the far post.
Curling just a whisker wide, Taylor then deposited another long-range free-kick into 3,736 happy Hammers fans packed behind Loach’s goal, before Marvin Sordell gave the visitors their first real scare of the evening with an angled bender that Robert Green brilliantly pawed over the angle, on the quarter-hour mark.
Midway through the half, the advancing Winston Reid was only a stud away from sliding West Ham into a two-goal lead and, after the gallant Green denied Chris Iwelumo from point-blank range, Jack Collison nodded onto the roof of the net before the escaping Cole was denied by legs of Loach.
But the visitors were destined to have the last word of an absorbing first period thanks to the tenacity of O’Brien, who having seen his barnstorming run into the heart of the Hornets’ defence thwarted by a pack of yellow shirts, then proved to be the Joey on the spot, as he reacted first to prod the loose ball home from 12 yards.
Unchanged following their defeat against Derby County on Saturday, Watford had it all to do after the break if they were to avoid successive home defeats against a West Ham side looking for their first back-to-back awayday victories since December 2007.
Within seconds of the restart, however, Sordell’s speculative 18-yarder was scurried behind by the grateful Green and with the hosts having more of a say in the second period, Gavin Massey then replaced Iwelumo.
But having failed to turn possession into goals, Watford were made to pay the price by Cole, who was presented with the simplest of tap-ins by an overlapping Herita Ilunga after Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble combined to send the DR Congo defender deep in Watford territory, with 20 minutes remaining.
Then, as stoppage time approached, Parker had the final word of the night, when he collected from substitute Julien Faubert before curling a lovely, low 18-yarder beyond Loach’s outstretched right glove to seal an impresssive win.
HORNETS: Loach, Doyley, Dickinson, Taylor, Mariappa, Yeates (Deeney 74), Forsyth, Jenkins, Eustace, Iwelumo (Massey 56), Sordell. Unused: Gilmartin, Bennett, Mirfin.
HAMMERS: Green, O’Brien, Ilunga, Reid, Tomkins (Faye 67), Parker, Noble, Nolan, Collison (Faubert 75), Taylor, Cole (Piquionne 74). Unused: Boffin, Barrera.
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Booked: Sordell (45), Eustace (82). Noble (86).