SEEING RED: Carlton Cole (9) is given his marching orders
EVERTON DEMONSTRATED their ability to cope without the suspended Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas as they overcame a first-half deficit to claim all three points at Upton Park with a 2-1 win.
Goals for Victor Anichebe and man of the match Steven Pienaar were enough to propel the Merseysiders to their first win in eight and into the top four.
Sam Allardyce’s side, themselves reeling from seven first-team absentees, were still in this contest at 1-1 when Carlton Cole was red carded with 23 minutes to go. It was a harsh decision from referee Antony Taylor and he compounded his seeming error with a similarly inept dismissal of Everton’s Darron Gibson in second-half added time.
Yet Taylor’s influence was felt far earlier. Everton thought they had taken the lead on 11 minutes. Leon Osman rose to head home meet Leighton Baines’ corner only for the linesman to cut the celebrations short as he lifted his flag to indicate an Everton foul.
Replays suggested that Anichebe had his left arm wrapped around Jussi Jaaskelainen but even the most myopic West Ham fan would be compelled to concede that it was a poor decision in keeping with the preferential treatment afforded to goalkeepers at set-pieces.
Cole rubbed salt in the wound two minutes later when he gave West Ham the lead. Mark Noble and Matt Taylor combined to pick out the forward, who cut inside John Heitinga from the left-hand side of the Everton penalty area and beat Tim Howard with a low drive.
Everton, inspired by Pienaar, remained patient and neat in their approach but were unable to breach a solid West Ham backline. In the 31st minute Nikica Jelavic beat the otherwise excellent James Collins to Pienaar’s adroit pass but was offside when he scored. It demonstrated that the hosts needed to be on their guard against Everton’s subtlety and their offside trap did its job two minutes later when Anichebe found himself stranded.
The second period began in similar fashion with Everton continuing to enjoy the greater share of possession as Pienaar probed and persisted in tandem with the enterprising Baines.
The South African’s tenacity finally paid off on 64 minutes when he had time to deliver an inviting cross that was turned home by Anichebe, who glanced a header into the far corner.
Within three minutes West Ham’s attempts to strike back were undermined by Cole’s dismissal for a harmless and non-malicious foul on Baines.
With that the momentum shifted to the visitors and the lead was theirs on 73 minutes when Pienaar was well-placed to claim the final touch from point-blank as West Ham struggled to clear their lines. Superb approach play from the South African and Osman brought them into the West Ham penalty area where they induced the panic that ultimately settled this contest.
The Hammers fought for an equaliser and Kevin Nolan spurned a two opportunities as the final whistle approached.
Taylor’s stoppage-time dismissal of Gibson for an innocuous challenge on Noble confirmed his place amongst the Sunday morning headlines.