West Ham manager Sam Allardyce bemoaned his side’s first-half performance after they were beaten 1-0 at Championship leaders Southampton last night.

The Hammers, who lost their unbeaten away record this season, conceded a 45th minute winner when Jos Hooiveld headed home unmarked to take the Saints five points clear of them at the top of the table. Southampton’s win also extended their remarkable run of consecutive victories at St Mary’s Stadium to 17 games.

Allardyce said: “We didn’t really do anything in terms of what we are all about away from home in the first half and then we conceded the softest of goals from our point of view.

“We practise so much in defending set-plays and attacking set-plays. We are arguably one of the biggest sides in the league and our big men who can head the ball well, couldn’t head a ball out to stop us going 1-0 down.

“It is even more disappointing when you lose off a set play, but like I said, second half we were a bit more creative and made a few more chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net.”

The Irons spurned a couple of opportunities to find an equaliser in the second half. Sam Baldock had the best chance when he was put through on goal but he fired past Kelvin Davis’ far post. Skipper Kevin Nolan also failed to find the net when his close-range effort was saved by Davis.

Allardyce added: “It is a big disappointment to lose to Southampton, to lose our away record and find that we wake up tomorrow and they are five points clear of us rather on the balance of play, we should have gone home still being only two points behind them.

“We knew it would be a difficult game and it was as they have the best home record in the league. They were a good side and we weren’t in the first half playing to the level we should have done. But even then we should have rescued a point.”

The Hammers had no problems taking their chances on Saturday as they eased to a 4-0 win over Blackpool at Upton Park.

Former Newcastle boss Allardyce admitted it was frustrating watch his side misfire at the Saints after such a potent attacking display in their previous game.

He said: “The disappointing thing for me was we were clinical on Saturday, but we were woefully short of being clinical today in terms of taking our chances which were very, very good.

“Even in the first half Sam Baldock’s had one that has dropped down to him in the six-yard box and you would expect him to score that based on his ability as a goalscorer.”