Barnsley 0-4 West Ham

By Mandeep SangheraBBC Sport

West Ham maintained their automatic promotion hopes with an emphatic win at struggling Barnsley.

Barnsley failed to deal with a corner and Kevin Nolan tapped in the opener, before Nicky Maynard added a second with a guided 22-yard shot.

Mark Noble then chipped in after an error by Barnsley keeper David Button.

Ricardo Vaz Te pounced for a fourth after Button had parried a George McCartney shot into his path, before a Maynard shot struck the woodwork.

West Ham had seen rivals Reading move to the top of the Championship by beating Leeds in the early kick-off and, knowing they needed victory to stay in touch at the top, the Hammers overwhelmed Barnsley.

The victory moved the Upton Park side three points behind second-placed Southampton, who have a game in hand. And the Hammers set a club record of 12 away league wins in a single season.

Barnsley suffered a sixth defeat in their last seven league outings and were left looking over their shoulder in the hope they are not dragged into the relegation mire, especially with four of their five remaining games against play-off chasing teams.

The Tykes appear safe as they are nine points above the drop zone, but their form has plummeted and West Ham's victory was hardly in doubt after Nolan's sixth-minute goal.

A West Ham corner ricocheted off Craig Davies and left an unmarked Nolan to apply a simple finish from point-blank range.

Barnsley midfielder Stephen Dawson survived being red-carded for a two-footed tackle on James Tomkins before Maynard's lovely finish extended the away side's lead.

West Ham's pressure and persistence was the springboard of their victory and, after Maynard's closing down of Button forced the keeper into a poor clearance, Noble took advantage by chipping in.

Barnsley failed to produce any sign of a comeback, while West Ham were revelling in the space and time on the ball they were being afforded.

Left-back McCartney even got in on the attacking action and despite having his curling shot saved by Button, the keeper could only palm the ball to ex-Barnsley forward Vaz Te, who sidefooted home.

Maynard shuddered the crossbar with a long-range strike before the referee's whistle ended Barnsley's misery.

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