"Ruthlessly clinical" is not a phrase associated too readily with West Ham United down the years but that was exactly how Sam Allardcye described his team yesterday after they maintained their pursuit of Southampton at the Championship summit with another away success.
Allardyce himself was still a month shy of making his entrance into the world – anything but Big Sam – when West Ham last posted a win at Hull in September 1954 yet they ended the wait for a victory here thanks to goals early in the second half from Sam Baldock and Jack Collison.
West Ham have the Championship's best away record – 17 points from a possible 24 now – and they earned this fifth away victory, obvious as it sounds, thanks to their efforts in both penalty boxes.
"The difference between us and Hull today was our clinical finishing at one end and our goalkeeper making the right saves at the right time at the other end," said Allardyce.
Hull had been seeking a fifth straight home win but paid the price for failing to score when on top in the first period. Robert Koren was twice foiled by Robert Green, Dele Adebola saw a deflected shot whistle inches wide, and then with half-time approaching Matty Fryatt broke clear only to shoot against Green with Abdoulaye Faye scrambling the ball clear.
"I thought we played pretty well but unfortunately for us, as with most games in the Championship, scoring first is important," said Nigel Pearson, the Hull manager.
West Ham's only real threat before the break had come from Julien Faubert's crosses but with the help of Carlton Cole's half-time introduction in place of the lumbering John Carew they turned the game on its head, taking the lead four minutes after the restart when Cole flicked on Mark Noble's corner and Baldock volleyed home.
They finished Hull off with a slick move for their second goal eight minutes later, Noble supplying substitute Cole, who sent Collison clear to slot past Peter Gulacsi. "It was great passing, great movement, which resulted in a one-on-one and a composed finish," said Allardyce.
Hull tried to respond but Noble blocked a Fryatt shot on the goalline and Green thwarted Aaron Mclean. The closing moments saw Fryatt's shot fly over when a goal seemed certain and Green made two more eye-catching stops. "At the moment he looks pretty impregnable," said a satisfied Allardyce.
Hull have less cause for satisfaction, having dropped out of the top six with this second straight defeat. And their supporters went home fearing another even bigger loss with rumours strongly linking Pearson to the vacant Leicester City job. He said: "I am not talking about anything other than the game, it is not being driven by anything I've done."
Hull (4-3-3): Gulacsi; Rosenior, Chester, Hobbs, Dudgeon; Evans, McKenna, Koren; Mclean, Adebola (Brady, 61), Fryatt.
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Green; Faubert, Faye, Tomkins, McCartney; Diop (Sears, 83), Noble; Collison, Nolan, Baldock (Piquionne, 88); Carew (Cole, 46).
Referee: Nigel Miller
Man of the match: Green (West Ham)