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Nolan strike puts Hammers joint top as Saints slip up

West Ham moved level with Southampton at the top of the table with a 1-0 win over Coventry yesterday.

Although they were not at their best, the Hammers got the breakthrough in the 66th minute when Kevin Nolan took advantage of some poor defending to finish from close range.

That was enough to enable West Ham join the Saints on 47 points as, seconds after Nolan's goal, Jake Forster-Caskey pounced on an error from Kelvin Davis to put Brighton a goal up against Southampton en route to a 3-0 win.

It was the Saints' second straight defeat and to add to their woes, they had Rickie Lambert sent off for the first time in his career following a clash with Adam El-Abd early in the second half. Brighton also finished with 10 men following the late dismissal of Gordon Greer.

"The sending-off of Lambert was a massive turning point as we were in control of the match at that time. It changed the whole complexion of the game," reflected Southhampton manager Nigel Adkins.

"I have looked at the video and although it's not a great view, the lad (El-Abd) stopped Rickie getting up. It's a poor video but Lambert hasn't lashed out.

"We need to win the next one. We're being challenged from a results point of view."

Middlesbrough could have gone top with a victory at Blackpool, but instead suffered a 3-0 reverse. Cardiff joined Middlesbrough in joint third on 45 points thanks to a 3-1 victory over Reading.

Having gone seven games without a goal, third-from-bottom Nottingham Forest needed only five minutes to find the net at Portman Road, where they beat Ipswich 3-1.

Leeds scored twice in the dying stages to snatch a dramatic 2-1 win over 10-man Burnley. Charlie Austin put Burnley ahead with 21 minutes left, 40 minutes after his side had lost Kieran Trippier to a second yellow card.

Leeds were given a leg-up by Brian Easton's 86th-minute own goal and then in the fifth minute of injury-time, Ross McCormack pounced on goalkeeper Lee Grant's error to send his manager, Simon Grayson, off on an emotion-charged run down the touchline.

"I've had a bad knee and I thought it might go, but it showed the passion and belief of everyone," Grayson said of the late drama. "We can achieve anything, because the division is so tight. A couple of wins gets you up there."

In Grayson's own words, Leeds were "embarrassing" in losing 4-1 at Barnsley last Saturday and he made five changes to his side, giving a debut to on-loan Tottenham winger Andros Townsend.

Both of Trippier's cautions came for fouls on the livewire winger, and it was his shot that Grant spilled into McCormack's path. "He's a talent; he's played against us a few times and Harry Redknapp rates him highly," Grayson said of Townsend, who signed on loan for Leeds yesterday.

Irish Independent