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West Ham United moved out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win at Cardiff City to ease the pressure on manager Sam Allardyce.
Allardyce has come under fire after the London club's run of seven Barclays Premier League matches without a win and heavy FA Cup and League Cup defeats by Nottingham Forest and Manchester City respectively in the last week.
But Carlton Cole scored shortly before half-time at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, before Mark Noble sealed the points in second-half stoppage time to ensure Cardiff replace Allardyce's men in the bottom three on goal difference.
West Ham had to dig deep for the victory as James Tomkins was sent off for a second bookable offence 18 minutes from time, and they also lost Guy Demel to what appeared to be a serious injury in the first half.
They were not to be denied three precious points, though, and Andy Carroll also made his first appearance of the season as a second-half substitute, the striker setting up Noble's goal as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was beaten in his first home game in charge of Cardiff.
Record-signing Carroll was named in the West Ham squad for the first time since his close-season switch from Liverpool, while Allardyce made five changes to the side that was hammered at City in midweek.
Cardiff centre-back Mark Hudson made his first Barclays Premier League start, and new signing Magnus Wolff Eikrem was on the bench as Solskjaer made five alterations to his starting line-up.
West Ham started brightly and Cardiff breathed a sigh of relief when Stewart Downing's fourth-minute cross from the right evaded everyone and struck the far post, before David Marshall denied Tomkins from the rebound.
Demel then became West Ham's latest injury victim when he was caught in the face by team-mate Roger Johnson's elbow after only seven minutes and was carried off wearing a neck brace following a lengthy stoppage.
Cardiff came tantalisingly close to opening the scoring after 31 minutes, when Kim Bo-Kyung’s shot deflected over Adrian and struck the crossbar before bouncing down on the line before Frazier Campbell fouled the goalkeeper following up.
The visitors made the most of that fortune 11 minutes later, as Matt Jarvis picked out Cole with a precise ball across the face of the goal and the striker made no mistake from six yards out.
Cardiff were almost caught out again a minute later, but Matt Taylor's right-footed effort whistled just past the far post.
Craig Bellamy made his return from injury when he replaced Peter Odemwingie at the break and the evergreen forward wasted no time in making an impact, as he swung in a free-kick that was headed over the bar by Hudson.
Cardiff piled on the pressure and Adrian produced a fine reflex save to deny Campbell 12 minutes into the second half after an inviting cutback from Bellamy.
Norway midfielder Eikrem came on to make his debut after 64 minutes and Bellamy curled a free-kick just wide six minutes later as the hosts' frustration grew.
Carroll replaced Cole a minute later to warm applause from the travelling fans, but West Ham were reduced to 10 men when Tomkins was shown a second yellow card for a high challenge on Campbell in the 72nd minute.
However, the visitors stood firm and Noble sealed the points in stoppage time when he drilled the ball into the far corner after being played in by Carroll.
West Ham United assistant manager Neil McDonald: "We certainly did have a tough week having had a couple of beatings up. We showed tremendous spirit to come back and win away from home. The team showed togetherness today and the supporters stuck by us and have travelled a long way this week.
"He [Sam Allardyce] has come under pressure but he's experienced to take that. He took the plaudits when we finished 10th last year. People will be coming back from injury soon to give the squad a boost."
"We were always going to try to get Carroll on with 15 minutes. It'll be slow progress for him. He'll now get back on to the training pitch."
Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "We wanted a win here today, but it wasn't to be. We had double the possession and twice the shots. Football is that way - you don't always get what you deserve.
"We created good chances, but not enough in the first half. In the second half we had the energy and enthusiasm I have seen in training. It won't be all singing and dancing - I expected it to be a tough job.
"We're five points off 10th. It's tight from 10 and down."
|18 Jan 2014||v Man City (A)|
|15 Mar 2014||v Everton (A)|
|29 Mar 2014||v West Brom (A)|
|22 Mar 2014||v Liverpool (H)|
|08 Mar 2014||v Fulham (H)|
|28 Jan 2014||v Man Utd (A)|