Sam Allardyce has hailed West Ham United’s 2-1 victory over Millwall as ‘the best win’ he has ever had in his managerial career.
The Hammers shrugged off the disappointment of losing captain Kevin Nolan to a ninth-minute red card to beat their local rivals through goals from Carlton Cole and Winston Reid.
Nolan was sent-off after what referee Mick Jones deemed to be a two-footed tackle on Jack Smith before Cole put his team in front on the stroke of half-time. Liam Trotter equalised on 66 minutes, only for Reid to cap a memorable afternoon with a rasping winner just three minutes later.
“I that is probably the best win I’ve ever had as a manager, wherever I have been” Big Sam told West Ham TV. “We went down to ten men after nine minutes on what I thought was a very harsh decision by the referee. It was not endangering the opposing player and it was not out of control or with any great force or velocity and there was no intent because that has been taken out [of the rulebook].
“The character of the players at this club and the will to bounce back after a very disappointing defeat on Tuesday [at Ipswich Town] was there for all to see. With ten men, we began to control the game, to probe and put Millwall under pressure rather than sitting back and waiting to play on the break and catch them out.
“We took the game to them, we got the ball into their box and were producing quality balls. We got another outstanding set play and Carlton scored for us. We could have scored more.
“In the second half, we came out and went on the front foot. Julien Faubert produced a great header and I was up because I thought it was in but it hit the bar and came out. Then we had the disappointment of their goal and then Matt Taylor put a great corner and we only had to head it in from a yard out but we missed it.
“Then we got Reidy producing what you’d like your centre forward to do with a stunning volley from the edge of the box. We even had some chances after that and out-chanced Millwall with ten men and thoroughly deserved the win.”
While his ten men continually created chances against the Lions, Big Sam was equally pleased with the organisation, tenacity and discipline shown to keep the visitors’ chances to a minimum.
“The discipline of the side to nullify the 11v10 situation, we made life extremely difficult for them. They scored a great goal, but that was the only way they were going to score.”
Big Sam also hailed the performance of Man of the Match Mark Noble and fellow Academy graduate James Tomkins, who played in a new defensive midfield role for the first time. Cole, Julien Faubert and half-time substitute Matt Taylor also drew praise from the manager.
“Everybody did their job In and out of possession, we were superb. As a manager, when you see your team go down to ten men and you see that spirit and desire to commit everything that you’ve got for themselves and the fans it is absolutely magnificent.”