BARNSLEY manager Keith Hill offered no excuses after promotion-chasing West Ham comfortably brushed his team aside in front of the cameras last night.
West Ham captain Kevin Nolan scored his 11th goal of the campaign to give the visitors a seventh-minute lead, with Nicky Maynard (23) and Mark Noble (35) adding further goals before the break. Ricardo Vaz Te, facing his former club, rounded the off the scoring in the 55th minute to keep the Hammers in the hunt for promotion.
The Reds were distinctly second best in the BBC televised clash as the Hammers edged back to within three points of Southampton in the race for the second automatic promotion spot.
Hill, who has now seen his side win just once in their last nine matches, said: “I was disappointed with the result and the performance and I can’t defend that as a manager.
“It was always going to be difficult but we shot ourselves in the foot magnificently. Even John Wayne couldn’t have done it better.
“The only positive that I can salvage is that it wasn’t six, seven or eight because it could have been even more embarrassing. We could have been more than three goals down at half-time.
“You have to have the finance to be successful. I would like to spend on a squad what they spent on Kevin Nolan.
“They recruited Maynard and Vaz Te in the January transfer window. We are not, in any way, a competitor to West Ham.
“I hate it because I want to be successful. It’s at times like this that we’ve got to be brave and accountable.”
The visitors set a new club record of 12 wins on the road in a season and Sam Allardyce, the West Ham manager, said: “We found a cutting edge and it was a fantastic, professional performance. We’ve broken the club record for away wins in a season, which is a great achievement.”
Hill made just one alteration to his starting line-up and that was an enforced change as influential midfielder Matty Done had to miss out after he picked up an ankle knock at Portman Road. Into the midfield came recent capture Kallum Higginbotham for his Oakwell debut.
Allardyce selected Vaz Te, who bagged 12 goals in Reds colours ahead of his January switch to East London.
The visitors went in front after just six minutes. Matt Taylor inswinging corner-kick was flicked on by Maynard and there was veteran midfielder Nolan who only had to poke the ball past David Button from barely two yards.
Credit to Hill’s battlers, they responded with Craig Davies testing England goalkeeper Robert Green from 25 yards, but it wasn’t long before West Ham doubled their lead.
This time it was a superb individual strike from Maynard who took a short pass from Nolan before firing home.
The Hammers were knocking the ball around almost at will and seemed to be toying with Barnsley at times, and the third goal in the 35th minute was a real disaster for the hosts.
Under no pressure whatsoever, Button played a horrendously short pass to right-back Scott Wiseman, but midfielder Mark Noble was alert and nipped in for the ball, lifting it expertly over the keeper.
The pattern continued after the break. West Ham dictated the tempo and it was scarcely a surprise when they made it four in the 55th minute.
George McCartney surged down the left before hitting a shot which Button could only palm into the path Vaz Te, who tapped home.
Minutes later it was almost 5-0, but Maynard’s rocket shot from 30 yards struck the crossbar and bounced to safety.
n barnsley: Button 5; Wiseman 6, Foster 7, McNulty 5, Golbourne 5 (Collins 61, 6); Cotterill 6, Higginbotham 6, Dawson 5, Smith 4 (Perkins 64, 6); Davies 6 (O’Brien 64, 7), Gray 6. Subs not used: Lidakevicius, Tonge.
n bookings: McNulty (12), Dawson (19).