West Ham 2-0 Tottenham
GiveMeSport at Upton Park
There is no better remedy than victory for a beleaguered manager, and a win over Tottenham was a most palatable tonic for Sam Allardyce. West Ham may not have won often this season, but they have recorded three triumphs over Spurs - a statistic that will not be forgotten in a hurry.
He remains under pressure, of that there is no doubt. Disliked by many supporters for his tactics and prickly nature, it may take more than this to save him from an an axe some fans have been sharpening even more so in recent weeks. But, whatever happens to Allardyce this summer, this was a fine way to end the campaign at home, for there is no more satisfying win for West Ham than a win over Spurs.
But what of Tim Sherwood? He has performed significantly better than his counterpart today, yet he is more likely to be forced to relinquish his position following the season's conclusion. Sherwood will point towards the sending off of Younes Kaboul as a catalyst to his side's demise , yet they had rarely threatened before then. The manager has one game left to save his job - or does he? Links with Frank de Boer suggest a decision has already been taken.
The West Ham opener would not have made Sherwood feel any better about what has been a difficult week, and it concluded a nightmarish minute or so for Spurs. Stewart Downing, a perennial trier but rarely effective this season, found himself behind the Spurs line with clear space to run into and, as shot on goal became increasingly likely, was bundled over by Kaboul. A red card was the decision, and it was a correct one from Phil Dowd.
Contact had been made just outside the box, presenting West Ham with a free-kick rather than the penalty they craved. But the end result ensured this did not matter. Andy Carroll thundered the set-piece at goal, which Hugo Lloris pushed behind. It was from this resulting corner that West Ham struck.
Mark Noble found the head of Carroll, and his contact was then diverted by Harry Kane past Lloris to ensure the 10-men immediately fell behind. Kane was then subbed off to make way for Vlad Chiriches - the perils of being the junior striker.
If the first goal was the result of some unfortunate defending from the visitors, then the second came from some truly pathetic attempts to repel the ball from their own net. Again it was a rash Spurs challenge, this time from Michael Dawson on Noble, that presented West Ham with the chance to score. Downing was tasked with taking the set-piece but, instead of the Spurs wall blocking his limp effort, Paulinho and Emmanuel Adebayor both turned away in ludicrously spineless fashion; allowing the ball to squeeze through and past a helpless Lloris. One suspects Sherwood let them have it at the interval. A lack of character indeed.
Any diatribe from their manager clearly had little effect of the Spurs players, with West Ham almost scoring a third shortly after the break. A spectacular Mo Diame overhead effort encouraged another fine stop from Lloris - the best Spurs player by some distance - before both Matt Taylor and Kevin Nolan also saw their efforts kept out in the proceeding frantic few seconds.
A chance of even greater clarity later fell to the feet of Nolan but, as he turned to get a shot away, Lloris was on him quicker than Spurs had crumbled and ensured he got the block in. It was Lloris against West Ham and, on this occasion, he was the victor.
But the necessary damage had already been inflicted in the opening 45 minutes, as West Ham appeared content to rely upon their defensive organisation to see them through to three points, rather than really twist the knife and push concertedly for another goal. The game descended into something of a leisurely stroll here in the May sunshine, and that's just the way Allardyce would have wanted to sign off at Upton Park. His job may not be safe, but his team is, and they reach that coveted total of 40 points with a game to spare.
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