In the 24th Volume of our Classic Match series, we delve deep through the archives once more to take you through another memorable West Ham United clash from down the years, this time around, it involves Saturday’s visitors to the London Stadium, Southampton.
Cast your minds back to the early autumn of 2012, “Don’t You Worry Child” by the Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin was at the very summit of the British Music Charts and legendary racehorse Frankel had just retired from racing.
Meanwhile, in the world of football, and more specifically the Premier League, West Ham United were enjoying their first season back in the English Top-Flight having just been promoted from the Championship via the play-offs.
Under Sam Allardyce, the Hammers had enjoyed a steady start to the campaign, heading into an October visit of Southampton to the Boleyn Ground in eighth place and fresh from a home defeat by Arsenal.
Meanwhile, the visitors to East London that day, Nigel Adkins’ Saints pipped the Irons to automatic promotion from the second tier the season before and were enjoying their first Premier League term since 2003, off the back of consecutive promotions.
However, the South Coast side hadn’t fared so well in their opening seven matches, losing five and only picking up one win, ahead of the journey to the capital, they had just drawn at home to Fulham which kept them hovering above the bottom three in 17th.
The fixture was to be played out on a mild Saturday afternoon in E13, with the visitors in desperate need of some points to climb the table and the hosts looking for revenge after the disappointment of the Saints edging in front of them in the Championship, the previous term.
At the announcement of the two starring Xls an hour prior to kick-off at Upton Park, the danger men in both teams were clear to see, the players determined and with the capabilities to impact the affair profoundly.
For Allardyce’s men, these included the likes of tall striker and new loan signing from Liverpool Andy Carroll and reigning Hammer of the Year defender Winston Reid.
Meanwhile, for Adkins’ men, names such as young Englishmen and captain Adam Lallana and his fellow countryman and dangerous attacker Jay Rodriguez fell into this category, among others.
Against the backdrop of a noisy Boleyn Ground atmosphere, involving hopeful away supporters and home supporters baying for the blood of revenge, the match could begin.
However, it wasn’t quite the racy affair that many were expecting in the first period with chances very limited at both ends, when there was a chance, though, it more than often fell to the home team.
And, it wasn’t a superstar striker with it in the beginning, in fact, a pair of defenders going close with headers in the form of James Tomkins and James Collins.
Apart from a few half-openings for the away side on the break, that was about it in terms of action for a rather dull first half, fans were not disappointed by the second.
It began in explosive style for the hosts as they shell-shocked the Saints by taking the lead inside the first minute, few members of the Claret & Blue Army had made it back to their seats from half-time.
A Mark Noble free-kick was swung in from the right side towards Collins who appeared to touch it past goalkeeper Artur Boruc, replays showed no touch from the Welshman and the goal was awarded to the future skipper.
Remarkably, within two minutes, that advantage was doubled as the visitors were blown away, Yossi Benayoun winning the ball back on the right side and charging into the penalty area.
His clever low cross to the back-post fund its way to captain Kevin Nolan who was primed to tap the ball into a half-empty net, inches from being in an offside position.
However, Adkins’ men showed character and they fought to get back into it and managed to find a lifeline through Lallana, who turned and smashed the ball over Jussi Jaaskelainen inside the penalty area, having been found by Rodriguez.
However, their joy was to be short-lived indeed with Jose Fonte fouling Carroll in the box six minutes later and Neil Swarbrick pointing to the spot and Noble converting with ease.
The penalty proved to be the final nail in the Saints’ coffin and the three points were wrapped up late on by Mali International and substitute Modibo Maiga, who capped off his mazy run with a delectable curling finish to put the cherry on the 4-1 victory and net his first for the club in the PL.
The triumph was the Hammers’ fourth of the season in the Top-Flight and saw them rise to seventh in the table, while the Saints’ sixth league defeat of the term meant that they fell into the bottom three.
Southampton’s fortunes would improve as the campaign went along and they opted for a managerial change, Adkins being replaced by Argentine Mauricio Pochettino, whose appointment was much maligned, but he guided them to safety in 14th place.
Whereas, it would be a consistent first term back in the big time for Allardyce and the East Londoners who finished tenth on 46 points an impressive campaign for both newbies.
Although one question still remains, will David Moyes’ West Ham United be able to inflict a similarly convincing triumph on Mark Hughes’ Southampton when they meet for a relegation six-pointer in Stratford on Saturday? Find out right here with our Live Blog, featuring live and exclusive build-up, text commentary and reaction, live from the London Stadium Press Box and starting at 1 PM GMT.