Sam Allardyce believes his West Ham team "answered every question" about them with a 2-1 win with 10 men over Millwall on Saturday. West Ham are now four points clear of second-placed Southampton, and Allardyce was obviously delighted with the character his players showed, given Kevin Nolan's dismissal just eight minutes in.
"To do it with 10 men just shows that everyone who had doubts about the character of the team are wrong because it is there in abundance," Allardyce said after his team outran an unambitious Millwall side. Carlton Cole headed West Ham in front before Winston Reid volleyed the winner.
"The desire to get us of this division was shown in every department today," Allardyce continued, "however all the players took part with a willingness to work hard for each other, cover each other and support each other. You can't teach players that. It comes from building team spirit and every body pulling in the same direction. To deliver that performance shows with have an abundance of character."
From here, Allardyce is confident that West Ham can strengthen their hold on the top end of the division. "We are building momentum and are top of the league and that builds confidence," he said. "To win in the circumstances we did today will tell everybody that we should kick on from here. Winning this game was a six-pointer."
West Ham's lead over Southampton, whom they entertain in eight days' time, increase, after Saints drew 0-0 at Birmingham City on Saturday. Birmingham – five points behind Southampton with a game in hand – had the best chances and Kelvin Davis had to save from Marlon King and Adam Rooney.
Blackpool, in fourth, are just two points behind third-placed Cardiff City after winning 3-1 at the Welsh club. With 11 minutes left Cardiff were 1-0 up, but an equaliser from Kevin Phillips and two late goals from Matt Phillips turned the game around.
Middlesbrough continued their slide down the table with a 0-0 home draw to Crystal Palace. Tony Mowbray's team have not won in the league since Boxing Day, with Tony McMahon and Lukas Jutkiewicz closest to breaking the deadlock on Saturday.
Leeds United's first game since the dismissal of Simon Grayson ended in an impressive 3-0 win at Bristol City. Robert Snodgrass puts Leeds ahead in the first half and, with City reduced to nine men, Ross McCormack and Luciano Becchio scored in the second half. Leeds, guided by caretaker manager Neil Redfearn are now just two points from the play-off places.
Brighton are behind Leeds on only goal difference, after a last-minute 1-0 victory over Leicester City, Will Buckley volleying in Vicente's cross. Brighton finished the game with 10 men, while the visitors had two players sent off
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