Saints suffered only their second defeat away from home in seven league matches with a two goal defeat in east London.
It all started so well for the visitors, who broke the Hammers’ recent run of four consecutive clean sheets by taking the lead with eight minutes on the clock. Maya Yoshida headed home his first Premier League goal from Steven Davis’s free-kick to put Saints in control.
The lead was reward for the team’s early positivity at the Boleyn Ground, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men were pegged back just 12 minutes later when Matt Jarvis slid home from what looked to be an offside position which quickly swung momentum in favour of the hosts.
The Hammers followed up with another strike three minutes later when Carlton Cole swept home from a rebound inside the area.
Saints to their credit, reasserted their threat against a spirited United side, but for all of their hard work both before and after half-time, they were dealt a sucker-punch with 20 minutes remaining when Kevin Nolan maintained his rich vein of form with an overhead kick inside the six yard box to seal all three points for the hosts.
The visitors were seeking a record third successive away win in the Barclays Premier League, but their run of just one win at the Boleyn Ground was extended into an eighth league game.
Saints boss Pochettino named an unchanged team from the side that took on Hull City in Saints’ last Premier League outing at Hull City.
There were however, recalls for Dejan Lovren and Gaston Ramirez who took up places on the bench alongside young striker Sam Gallagher. Midfielder Victor Wanyama dropped out of the squad as he seeks full fitness, whilst Jos Hooiveld was sideliend with an eye injury.
West Ham named the same backline that has secured four consecutive clean sheets in their previous Premier League matches whilst January signings Pablo Armero and Antonio Nocerino were amongst the substitutes for the home side.
Saints got the game underway, defending the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand in their changed strip of black shirts and white shorts, with Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert taking the first touches of the contest on halfway.
The visitors made a good start to the game, and within the opening couple of minutes fashioned an early half-chance. Lambert’s short pass to Lallana led to a sweeping cross into the area, where Jay Rodriguez almost got the better of Guy Demel to go one-on-one with Adrian, but the Ivorian defender stood his ground well to thwart the move.
Pochettino’s men stuck to their principles of moving the ball around with bright energy in the initial exchanges, and their play was rewarded with the breakthrough goal, just eight minutes into the game.
The goal came from a free-kick on the right flank where skipper Lallana had been brought to ground by West Ham defender James Tomkins.
Steven Davis whipped in the free-kick from that channel and the ball was headed home by Maya YOSHIDA, who struck his first league goal for the club with a simple looking header from six yards out.
The Hammers searched for an immediate reply, but were denied a way through first by Jose Fonte’s clearing header, and then the hosts had Carlton Cole’s low cross into the area leapt upon by Artur Boruc, as Saints protected their lead.
It was a comfortable opening quarter of an hour for the visitors who continued to cause problems for the Hammers on either side, but it was through the centre where Lallana next broke free to get a shot off, with his strong effort flying over the top of Adrian’s goal from over 20 yards out.
It therefore came completely out of the blue when the hosts equalised with 20 minutes on the watch. Kevin Nolan’s raking pass over the top was latched onto by Matt JARVIS who appeared to be offside as he brought the ball down and slid it under Boruc to level things up at 1-1.
A frustrated Saints sought an instant reply when Lambert took a shot from kick-off which flew wide, but the tide quickly turned in the favour of the hosts again when they completed a shock turnaround in the 23rd minute.
Stewart Downing’s corner from the left was headed onto the post by Carlton COLE, who then picked up the rebound to lash the ball back into the net from six yards to make it 2-1.
Hammers defender James Collins then tried his luck from range as a buoyant home side looked to increase their tally, but Boruc was firmly behind the shot, as Saints cleared their lines once more.
There were further frustrations for the visitors, with a couple of inconsistencies from referee Mark Clattenburg’s adding to the annoyance of the slipped lead.
On 32 minutes, however, Saints almost got themselves back on level terms again. Jack Cork’s hanging cross into the middle of the area was headed down by Lambert onto the post, as the hosts breathed a sigh of relief, with their water-tight defence close to being breached again.
The visitors eventually resumed control of play as they strung together some more neat passing moves to make the Hammers work hard to hold onto what they had in the closing stages of the half.
A couple of late corners went the way of the visitors, both of which were taken by Lallana, and it was the latter of the two which resulted with Shaw poking a shot wide from the edge of the area.
Two minutes of stoppage time were added on, where the hosts held onto their slender advantage, as you sensed the old cliché that if there were to be another goal in the game, then the next one would be crucial.
HALF-TIME: WEST HAM 2-1 SOUTHAMPTON
There were no changes from either side at the break, with Saints being roared on by the away supporters at the end they were attacking for the second 45.
The visitors settled into their rhythm quickly again as they sought an early way back into the game.
The final ball appeared to be the only factor which didn’t reward the team’s superiority in possession, with Schneiderlin an early culprit when he tried to find Lambert, before Chambers blazed over from the right when he was placed to cross.
Saints had two shouts for a penalty turned down for handball as they turned the screw past he 50 minute mark. Lallana’s cross from the right earned the team another corner, but the delivery appeared to hit Downing’s arm on its way out of play.
The resulting set-piece saw a header by Fonte strike the hand of James Collins, but again the appeals fell on deaf ears as the Hammers hurried their clearance.
Saints kept the pressure on with Shaw’s daisy-cutter in at the near post gathered by Adrian, with the hosts clinging onto their lead.
Sam Allardyce decided to introduce Mohamed Diame in place of Matt Jarvis in West Ham’s midfield with the hosts adding a bit of extra steel to their armoury in the middle of the park.
The hosts created their first chance of the half just before the hour when Collins headed a corner over the top of Boruc’s goal at the far post, with the effort never troubling the Pole.
On 63 minutes Saints replaced Jack Cork with Gaston Ramirez, who marked his return to the team after a five week lay-off through injury to try and help the team back into the match.
The Uruguayan’s first touch was an in-swinigng corner which was headed dangerously across goal by Carlton Cole, and somehow out of trouble. Ramirez followed up on 65 minutes with a quick break into the box where he hit a fierce shot over the bar, as the midfielder continued to make a good impact on the game.
In amongst those chances, Shaw’s strong run and cross from the left was very nearly converted by Lallana as the skipper slid in from close range, but the ball just went too far in front of the midfielder who couldn’t make a clean connection to the shot.
On 68, Lallana delivered another inviting cross into the area, but Lambert couldn’t quite get over it as he flashed a towering header over the bar.
Moments later, Saints launched a swift break which resulted with Rodriguez threading Lallana through on goal, but the early strike from the skipper dragged wide of the right post.
The all-important fourth goal of the game arrived with 71 minutes on the watch, and for all of Saints’ dominance, it was galling to see the hosts celebrate a 3-1 lead when Downing’s cross was headed down by Cole into the path of Kevin NOLAN who struck an overhead kick into the net from inside the six yard area.
Saints almost had a bit of luck to get back into the game straightaway when Ramirez’s long range strike took a big deflection and looped towards the top left corner of Adrian’s goal, but the keeper got across to it just in time.
The Hammers’ third goal scorer was replaced by Winston Reid two minutes later, with the number 4 receiving a standing ovation from the home supporters.
With quarter of an hour left to play, Mark Noble was penalised for a foul which resulted in Lambert shaping up an ambitious strike from distance with a free-kick, and the frontman made Adrian work as he hit a thunderous drive that had to be pushed away by the Hammers shot stopper.
Saints introduced both James Ward-Prowse and Sam Gallaher in place of Steven Davis and Rickie Lambert with just over 12 minutes remaining.
The Hammers almost found the back of the net for a fourth time when Mohamed Diame hit the crossbar with a strike from distance which had Boruc scrambling.
Saints swiftly went back on the attack, with Lallana at the other end forcing Adrian into a near post save to earn the visitors another corner.
Ward-Prowse with the delivery this time, but Yoshida’s diving header at the near post was nodded away on the line by Cole, who was in the right place at the right time, as Saints continued to be blocked.
More chances came the way of the visitors with Ward-Prowse striking a low shot wide from distance and Fonte crashing a header onto the roof of the net.
Rodriguez’s volley with five minutes remaining had Adrian worried as he scrambled low to his left to keep out the shot.
Lallana was then booked for pulling Noble to ground, but chances kept coming for the visitors, who never gave up on the contest.
A late free-kick struck by Ramirez on the edge of the area flew wide, and a Rodriguez shot took a deflection onto the roof of the net prior to three minutes of stoppage time with that second goal for the visitors sadly never materialising, as Saints’ recent winless run at the Boleyn Ground continued.
West Ham team: Adrian, George McCartney, James Tomkins, James Collins, Guy Demel, Kevin Nolan (Winston Reid 73), Matt Jarvis (Mohamed Diame 58), Matt Taylor, Mark Noble, Stewart Downing, Carlton Cole
Unused substitutes: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Pablo Armero, Jack Collison, Joe Cole, Antonio Nocerino
Goals: Jarvis, 20; C. Cole, 23; Nolan, 71
Southampton team: Artur Boruc, Calum Chambers, Jose Fonte, Maya Yoshida, Luke Shaw, Morgan Schneiderlin, Jack Cork (Gaston Ramirez 63), Steven Davis (James Ward-Prowse 78), Adam Lallana (c), Jay Rodriguez, Rickie Lambert (Sam Gallagher 78)
Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Guly do Prado
Goal: Yoshida, 8
Referee: Mark Clattenburg