It’s not often you see the Hammers and Southampton battling it out in a top-of-thetable clash, but that was the case in February this year – even if it was in the Championship.
It looked like a 10 man West Ham might hold on for a gutsy win over the lads from down south, but a Jos Hooiveld late equaliser cancelled out Mark Noble’s first half penalty. West Ham were unlucky not to take all three points in front of an Upton Park crowd, but still managed to top the season’s proceedings after the match. The general consensus was disaster would have to strike to prevent us from climbing back into the Premier League. West Ham came racing out of the blocks in the opening minute with Ricardo Vaz Te testing Southampton ‘keeper with Kelvin Davis with a strong half-volley.
The Hammers continued to outmuscle and outplay the Saints until a dubious incident changed the game. Saints striker Sharp brought down Noble in the area and the resulting altercation saw West Ham midfielder Matt Taylor shown his marching orders by referee Lee Probert. After a crazy couple of minutes, Noble duly slotted from the spot to put the home side in front. Although the Hammers were in front, Southampton came back into the match with the help of the extra man.
Sharp should have levelled later in the half, but struck Green from close range. Green was then on his game again to prevent Rickie Lambert with a superb onehanded save. West Ham began the second half vibrantly and continued to hold out a Southampton side eager for an equaliser. The Saints got their equaliser after Hooiveld found the back of the net in the 75th minute. The big Dutchman poked home Lambert’s knock down from close range.
West Ham debutant Nicky Maynard was introduced in the second half and forced a strong save from Davis late in the encounter. At the conclusion of the match ‘Big Sam’ was livid Taylor was dismissed and felt his side should have been awarded two penalties throughout the match. Likewise, Nigel Adkins felt his side should have had the chance to convert from the spot too.
West Ham: Green, Reid, Tomkins, Faye, O’Brien, Faubert, Collison (McCartney 21), Taylor, Noble, Cole (Maynard 65), Vaz Te (O’Neil 71)
Southampton: Davis, Richardson (Connolly 80), Fonte, Fox, Hooiveld, Schneiderlin, Cork, Guly (Puncheon 55), Lallana, Lambert, Sharp (Hammond 83)