James Tomkins's early strike sets West Ham off to easy win at Watford

After this ultimately easy victory, Sam Allardyce has achieved within his first three games what West Ham's two previous full-time managers never did: masterminding consecutive away wins.

James Tomkins's early strike sets West Ham off to easy win at Watford The visitors pierced Watford's fragile confidence with a goal early in the first half and destroyed it with another at its end, leaving the second period to be little more than a procession, one which they decorated with some excellent football and two further goals.

"The quality of all four goals was something to be admired," said Allardyce. "We've got everything right. It's not often you see all your team playing what you think is the best they can play. I wouldn't have thought they can get much better than they were tonight."

It is not as if West Ham were never tested, Watford contributing fully to a bright opening period. Sean Dyche's team were over-reliant on the tactic of looping balls over the visiting defence for the impressive Marvin Sordell to run on to, and it nearly brought them a goal in the 15th minute, only for Robert Green to flick out an arm to nudge a curling shot past the post. The home side's threat, though, could not be sustained.

"I read the other day that one of their players earns our total wage bill," said Dyche. "If you spend that kind of money you're going to get quality, and the defining moments of the game came from that quality. In the second half they looked like the team they are, which is a team full of Premier League star players."

It is scarcely possible for a goal scored in the third minute to come against the run of play, but the Hornets had at least managed to squeeze in an attack before falling behind, Green gathering John Eustace's shot at the second attempt. But Carlton Cole was fouled as he contested his goalkeeper's clearance, Matt Taylor's free-kick from 35 yards was tipped round a post and Tomkins headed in the resulting corner. The teams traded chances thereafter until, in first-half stoppage time, Joey O'Brien advanced from right-back and, as Watford's defenders scattered to cover more obvious attacking threats, ran straight through the gap in the middle and, at the second attempt, poked in his first goal in over six years.

Watford's fans only cheered once in the second half and even then they were being ironic, as the already unpopular summer signing, Chris Iwelumo, was replaced. When Dyche decided to buy a target man, abuse from his own fans was hardly what he had in mind. The change hardly helped, and Cole tapped in Hérita Ilunga's pull-back with 20 minutes remaining before, in the final minute, Scott Parker collected a pass from Julien Faubert – making his first appearance since January – and side-footed the ball past Scott Loach.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Simon Burnton at Vicarage Road, for The Guardian on Tuesday 16th August 2011 22.16 Europe/London

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