Much of the post-matchdiscussions centred on the two centre-forwards, with
Andy Carroll in the thick of it for
Sam Allardyce reiterated his faith in Carroll, who has yet to score since arriving on loan from Liverpool but proved a handful for a Saints defence intent on stopping him at all costs.
Lambert, on the other hand, had continued his free-scoring form into the
He was dropped, however, in favour of youngster Jay Rodriguez before going on as substitute for the final half-hour.
Nigel Adkins, who admitted he has no idea how long he will be given to turn things around, said the decision to drop Lambert was made with a view to shaking things up, as Southampton look for their first win.
“Rickie has been phenomenal and one of the major reasons why we’ve got to the Premier League,” Adkins said. “I love the bones on him. But I had to make a decision that I believe was right at the time. You live and die by your decisions.”
Adkins appeared justified at half-time after his side shaded the opening period, before West Ham responded to Allardyce’s “bit of criticism” and scored twice in three minutes, through Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan, after the break.
Although Adam Lallana gave Saints hope with a 64th-minute goal, Noble made it 3-1 with a penalty and substitute Modibo Maiga completed the scoring in the closing stages.
Two of the goals came after free-kicks for fouls on Carroll, who had a physical battle with central defenders Jos Hooiveld and Jose Fonte, whose handball conceded the 72nd-minute penalty that put the game beyond Southampton.
Allardyce said: “Andy will score sooner or later. But it is not about him scoring, it is about us winning.”
Allardyce praised Nolan, the club’s top scorer with four goals so far from midfield. “People can shout you need two up top but you really don’t with Kevin Nolan tucked in behind because he will get as many goals as a front two,” the West Ham manager said.
“Kevin’s always scored 10 or 11 goals a season. He has only had one brief season outside the Premier League, with Newcastle, and he scored 17.”
Carroll scored freely for Newcastle, but has struggled since. “He is still a young man and he has a lot of improving to do. But he is such an important player for us already. As the old saying goes, if the front man plays well, the team plays well.”
The manager added: “I think it is unfair that referees sometimes don’t take his side in sympathy terms because he is such a big lad. But at least the referee actually gave the free kicks the right way when he was getting fouled continually.”