Big Sam hails ‘best win’

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce believes his team may have taken a giant stride back towards the Premier League after their London derby triumph over Millwall.

Goals from Carlton Cole and Winston Reid secured a 2-1 victory at Upton Park yesterday, and West Ham now have a four-point lead over second-placed Southampton, and a six-point cushion above Cardiff, who stand third.

Allardyce went so far as to acclaim it the greatest victory of his career, and it is now four Championship wins in five this year for West Ham after a dismal December.

The Hammers were able to put their midweek 5-1 thrashing at Ipswich behind them to get the better of a Millwall side who briefly drew level midway through the second half when Liam Trotter scored. The ninth-minute dismissal of captain Kevin Nolan for a two-footed lunge into a tackle on Jack Smith had complicated the Hammers’ task.

Allardyce said: “That is probably the best win I’ve ever had as a manager.

“In and out of possession, we were superb. As a manager, when you see your team go down to 10 men and you see that spirit and desire to commit everything that you’ve got for themselves and the fans it is magnificent.”

The result looked even better by the evening, after promotion rivals Southampton and Birmingham played out a goalless at St Andrew’s.

Neil Redfearn, in his first game as caretaker manager of Leeds, saw the Yorkshire side beat 10-man Bristol City 3-0 at Ashton Gate.

The home side finished with nine men after having James Wilson and Yannick Bolasie sent off, and goals from Robert Snodgrass, Ross McCormack and Luciano Becchio made it a day to remember for Redfearn.

Michael Chopra’s last-minute goal, his second in the game, earned Ipswich a 3-2 win at Coventry, while Matt Phillips scored twice as Blackpool came from behind to beat promotion rivals Cardiff 3-1. Brighton edged Leicester 1-0, while Watford beat Barnsley 2-1 at Vicarage Road. Burnley drew 1-1 with Peterborough at Turf Moor, while Middlesbrough drew 0-0 against Crystal Palace.

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