Jack Collison's cracker for West Ham takes Championship promotion fight to wire
Leicester City 1 West Ham United 2
King Power Stadium
Tuesday 24 April 2012
Sam Allardyce last night cranked up the tension on Southampton as the race for automatic promotion in the Championship approaches a nerve-shredding conclusion.
Allardyce took a leaf out of old friend Sir Alex Ferguson's management manual by insisting the pressure is all on Nigel Adkins' team after Jack Collison secured West Ham the victory they desperately needed to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive.
Collison's 58th-minute winner enabled the Hammers to move within two points of second-placed Southampton, and now Allardyce's players must beat Hull on Saturday and hope that their promotion rivals produce another unexpected defeat, against already relegated Coventry.
The odds may be stacked against them, and a place in the play-offs looks the most likely scenario, but at least they have ensured it remains interesting up until the final stages of a long slog.
Allardyce said: "We've got that little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. We've got to hope Coventry do us a favour. Strange results happen all the time and we've got to hope that Southampton slip up and Coventry enjoy the game with no pressure and cause an upset.
"The pressure on Southampton is enormous to finish the outstanding season they've had. The nerve-endings could be jangling and the pressure might get to the players."
It was not an emphatic victory but a 13th away win of the season got the job done, and delayed hopes on the South Coast of Adkins ending Saints' seven-year exile from the Premier League .
The remit was simple for West Ham here, with Southampton's surprise defeat at Middlesbrough presenting them with some unexpected encouragement.
This was a dead rubber for the hosts, with their hopes of sneaking a play-off place extinguished after last Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Burnley. But they responded after a hesitant start to take the lead on 34 minutes. Ben Marshall bypassed Matt Taylor on the right before sending over a cross that presented Jermaine Beckford with a simple header.
But the picture changed again five minutes later when the visitors were level. Taylor's cross from the touchline seemed innocuous enough but completely bamboozled the Leicester defence and Winston Reid stabbed the ball in at the near post.
And their superiority was rewarded when Gary O'Neil's shot was blocked but Collison capitalised swiftly to arrow the loose ball into the corner.
Leicester Schmeichel, Peltier, Morgan, Bamba, Konchesky, Marshall, Wellens (Dyer, 22), Drinkwater, King (St Ledger , 46), Beckford, Nugent (Waghorn, 65). Substitutes not used Howard, Vassell.
West Ham Green, Demel ( Faubert, 76), Reid, Tomkins, Taylor, Collison (Lansbury, 88), Noble, Nolan, O'Neil, Cole (Collins , 81), Vaz Te. Substitutes not used Baldock, Diop.
Referee E Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).
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