West Ham manager Sam Allardyce hailed the impact made by the returning Kevin Nolan as the Hammers won 2-0 at Cardiff yesterday to move within a point of npower Championship leaders Southampton.
Nolan, who returned from a three-match ban at the Cardiff City Stadium, produced a superb finish to give the visitors the lead two minutes before the break.
The after-effects of the Carling Cup final defeat on penalties to Liverpool at Wembley seemed to tell in the Bluebirds’ display, and they were finished off in the 77th minute when George McCartney beat David Marshall from a tight angle.
“Kevin Nolan is a midfielder goalscorer, he’s not a midfielder playmaker,” Allardyce said.
“He puts himself in very dangerous positions in the box and I do think he made a difference today. He’s a big player for us and he showed that today.”
On Saturday Leeds boss Neil Warnock was left to bemoan bad finishing and bad luck as his Leeds side slipped to a 1-0 home defeat against npower Championship leaders Southampton.
Rickie Lambert scored the only goal against a Leeds side who twice hit the woodwork, twice missed open goals, had a strong penalty appeal turned down and were persistently repelled by Southampton’s brilliant goalkeeper Kelvin Davis.
“You don’t always get what you deserve, I know that from experience,” Warnock said. “It’s whetted my appetite, though.’’
Reading boss Brian McDermott praised his side’s “guts” after they boosted their promotion hopes thanks to Adam Le Fondre’s winner in a 2-1 victory at Millwall.
Andy Keogh put the home side on course for a shock victory against the league’s third-placed side before Hal Robson-Kanu equalised for the Royals in first-half injury time and Le Fondre completed the turnaround.
McDermott said: “We are on a great run and we are really pleased. We are trying to win every game, that’s all we’re concentrating on.”
Elswhere Birmingham surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Derby, Portsmouth lost 3-1 at home to Middlesbrough, Doncaster drew 1-1 with Brighton, Watford come from 2-0 down to beat Burnley 3-2.
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