Hull City have been abject on their travels all season – and the back end of the last campaign too – but even their 6-1 thrashing by Liverpool was not as damaging as this defeat. That result in October at Anfield was flattering to Rafael Benitez's men as everything they touched went in – even Ryan Babel scored.
That was a defeat against a team the Tigers were not expected to harm. Against West Ham, however, Phil Brown, the Hull manager, talked as if he had genuinely believed he could get at least one valuable point against a side also fighting to stay out of the relegation zone. Those beliefs lasted all of three minutes and were lucky to last that long as, a minute earlier, Boaz Myhill had to react sharply to keep out a free-kick by Alessandro Diamanti. The goalkeeper's efforts were in vain however when a pass out of defence left Tom Cairney helpless in midfield and Valon Behrami lashed in his first of the season. "Self-inflicted" was how Brown described his side's collapse.
Thanks to Myhill's excellence, the Swiss international midfielder was denied a hat-trick inside half-an-hour but after that initial error, further "self-inflicted" mistakes ensured defeat. Craig Fagan was dispossessed by Diamanti near the halfway line and in retaliation tripped his opponent, earning his second yellow card after 53 minutes. Hull were duly opened up and Carlton Cole topped off Julien Faubert's defence-splitting pass with a well-taken goal. Faubert scored his first goal for the club in stoppage time with Hull down to nine men as Anthony Gardner was taken off with a suspected broken leg after Brown had made all his substitutions.
Brown refused to single out any single player for blame but one name – Fagan – sprang to mind who might have received some ferocious treatment in the dressing room. The whole squad was in training yesterday despite not having a game for a fortnight, although Brown insisted it was not punishment for the errors of their ways.
Gianfranco Zola, Brown's opposite number, was delighted with his side's second consecutive victory which took them further away from the relegation zone before their game at Manchester United tomorrow. Still, the Italian was asked how he had felt when the Hammers were taken over last month and he had a disagreement with the new owners over the club's direction. "We have our ups and downs," Zola said. The fact the Hammers' momentum is currently on the up should ensure those arguments quieten down, for the time being at least.
West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Spector; Behrami, Kovac, Parker, Diamanti (Collison, 85); Cole (Mido, 79), Franco (Ilan, 63). Substitutes not used: Stech (gk), Noble, Da Costa, Stanislas.
Hull City (4-4-2): Myhill; McShane, Mouyokolo, Gardner, Dawson; Fagan, Boateng, Cairney (Altidore, 65), Hunt (Barmby, 65); Zaki (Olofinjana, 65) Vennegoor of Hesselink. Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Garcia, Kilbane, Zayatte
Referee: M Atkinson (Yorkshire).
Booked: West Ham Parker; Hull Fagan.
Sent off: Hull: Fagan.
Man of the Match: Behrami.