Match Report: Sam Allardyce sees double red as Everton comeback secures victory over West Ham United
West Ham United 1 Everton 2
Blood and thunder at the Boleyn. Two red cards, neither of which carried any malice, and a rousing second-half comeback that took Everton into fourth place. This was just the kind of game Everton were drawing earlier in the season, but David Moyes's tight-knit unit answered his call for a pre-Christmas push to deliver the gift of three points.
Sam Allardyce predictably heaped the blame for West Ham's third home League defeat of the season on the referee, Anthony Taylor. The exit of Carlton Cole in the 67th minute for a raised foot against Leighton Baines did not help, but Everton had equalised minutes before his dispatch and had, up to then, dominated possession.
The miscarriage of justice was levelled with the dismissal of Darron Gibson for the same offence in added time. It was too late to affect the outcome but both decisions are likely to be appealed against.
"It is difficult to take," said Allardyce. "Anichebe on Collins after 30 minutes was the same challenge. One goes without a booking, the other is a straight red.
"We are looking for consistency from referees. We did not get that today and it had an affect on the result. We are bitterly disappointed. We don't know what would have happened after that.
"You want to lose it by your own default not by the referee's. Gibson's wasn't a red either. We have suffered today."
Moyes had some sympathy over the red cards. "I don't think any of the sending offs were justified. I don't think you could put the word frivolous at the side of an appeal."
Allardyce would do better to recognise the stranglehold on creativity exerted by the excellent Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman, whose twinkling feet always held sway. Pienaar was rewarded with the winning goal after a sweet exchange with Osman. As Moyes said, the pair were in a class all of their own. "If ever there was an England player today it was Osman, he was exceptional, top notch. The two of them were excellent."
Everton had the ball in the back of the net early on, Osman heading home a Baines corner from the right. The linesman flagged for an infringement involving Victor Anichebe backing into the keeper.
Moyes was not amused. "I don't see how the linesman could give that decision from 60 yards away," he said. "That was harsh on us." His mood darkened further when Cole, taking a pass from Matt Taylor, cut inside John Heitinga to fire the home side in front in the 14th minute. Everton did not deserve to be behind and the game suddenly acquired a heightened sense of purpose.
The introduction of the £1 Singing Fish Man from neighbouring Green Sreet Market, described as a recording phenomenon, failed to rouse the audience with his new single at the interval. But with the second half just minutes old Nikica Jelavic raised the tempo, picking out the keeper Jussi Jaaskalainen with a volley in the six-yard box.
The miss was symptomatic of Everton's afternoon, plenty of possession but too little on the end of it. When Jelavic missed again after Osman played him in, the returning Phil Neville gave him both barrels. The judgment, if harsh, hinted at the frustration bubbling in the Everton ranks.
The visitors finally gained their reward 20 minutes into the half when Anichebe climbed highest to meet Baines's free-kick after Pienaar had been felled by the West Ham substitute Modibo Maiga. Everton were a different proposition now, aided no end by the decision to send off Cole. Baines was straight on his feet unharmed, but that did not savethe Hammers striker.
Eight minutes later Everton took the lead, a goal fashioned down the left, where the probing of Osman and Pienaar finally resulted in a bundled goal by the latter. The finish, which bounced in off Pienaar's shin via Nolan, bore an inverse relationship to the build-up, which was Barcelona-esque.
After Jelavic wasted a chance to wrap up victory for the visitors with a shot that hit the side-netting, Nolan missed two opportunites to equalise for West Ham, with a deflected shot then a late wayward effort.
The match closed with an equally odd red card for Gibson, whose foot was no higher in the tackle than Mark Noble's. "You don't know what you're doing," sang both sets of supporters.
"We have played like that all season – maybe not turning football into goals. You have to show character coming here and we did that," said Moyes.
West Ham (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen; Tomkins, Collins, Reid, O'Brien (Spence, 80); Noble; O'Neil (Maiga, 58) Taylor, Jarvis (Collison, 88), Nolan; Cole.
Everton (4-1-3-2): Howard; Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Gibson; Neville (Naismith, 84), Osman, Pienaar (Oviedo, 88); Jelavic, Anichebe.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Man of the match: Pienaar (Everton)
Match rating: 8/10
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