West Ham’s win at Cardiff may very well have saved Sam Allardyce’s job, at least for the moment. The three points lift the Irons even with today’s opponents, but, by virtue of goal difference, push Cardiff down into the relegation zone. Now it’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who’ll be feeling the pressure, with the new Cardiff manager expected to turn the side around.
The match may have been a relegation six-pointer, but West Ham, three points from safety, were even more in need of a win, and it was evident from the start. With five minutes gone, the visitors had an opportunity of sorts, when Stewart Downing’s cross sailed past his teammates yet connected with the post. James Tomkins tried to get ahold of the rebound, but David Marshall came out to rescue Cardiff.
Shortly thereafter, Guy Demel collided with teammate Roger Johnson, crashing to the ground and lying still. After a lengthy delay, Demel was stretchered off. Reports from West Ham are that he has been admitted to hospital for tests, with more information provided when available.
It was the hosts that looked to be on top for the majority of the first half, yet West Ham went into the break leading thanks to a goal from Carlton Cole. Matt Taylor put the ball out wide, giving Matt Jarvis the chance to send it across the face of goal. Carlton Cole pushed past the Cardiff defense to send the ball into the roof of the net.
Cardiff, out of ideas, were forced to resort to appealing for a penalty during the first half’s injury time, when Craig Noone went down under a challenge from James Tomkins. The referee waved play on, and the hosts went into the break trailing 1-0.
Solskjaer brought on Craig Bellamy to start the second half, hoping the forward’s first appearance in two months might buoy his squad. Cardiff did look lively, pressing for the equalizer throughout the second half. Mark Hudson nearly put in a Bellamy free kick, but his header was high.
Cardiff again appealed for a penalty when George McCartney appeared to handle the ball inside the area, but again they got no sympathy. Lee Mason again waved away appeals when McCartney pawed at Frazier Campbell inside the area.
Campbell must’ve thought he’d gotten his own back when he lashed out a great strike. But Adrian performed an amazing save, managing to tip the ball over the bar to preserve West Ham’s lead.
The hosts finally had a decision go their way when James Tomkins was sent off, earning a second yellow for a high boot. With almost 20 minutes remaining, the Bluebirds’ play made it seem like it’d be just a matter of time before an equalizer.
Instead it was West Ham that grabbed the second goal. Andy Carroll, on for Carlton Cole in the 72nd minute, slipped a neat ball in to Mark Noble. Noble’s low shot nestled into the far corner, securing all three points for the Irons.
Cardiff City: Marshall, Theophile-Catherine, Hudson (Cornelius 78) Caulker, John, Whittingham, Medel (Eikrem 65), Kim, Noone, Campbell, Odemwingie (Bellamy 45)
West Ham: Adrian, Tomkins, Jarvis, Rat, Collison (Diarra 75), Taylor, Noble, Demel (McCartney 17), Downing, C Cole (Carroll 72), Johnson
Goals: Carlton Cole 42′; Noble 93′