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Hammers centre half James Collins grabbed the vital first goal against Norwich City on Tuesday night

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With West Ham clinging on to a goalless draw and the prospect of remaining firmly in the relegation scrap, up popped James Collins to grab the vital opening goal.

Mo Diame’s cross saw the centre half arrive late into the penalty area, get in front of Norwich keeper John Ruddy and reach the ball first – and the rest is history.

“I thought I was going to get clattered,” smiled the 30-year-old Wales international defender following the 2-0 win over the Canaries on Tuesday night.

“I heard him coming, so I thought I would be challenging him to be honest, but I’ve nipped in front of him and the ball has skimmed off my head and flown in.”

It was Collins’ first goals since his double against Manchester United in the FA Cup last season and much longer since he last scored in the league, something he is certainly not happy with.

“I just had a look and I think it is two, or two and a half years since I scored in the league,” revealed Collins.

“I got two in the FA Cup, but nothing in the league and it is not good enough really, for the amount of balls we put in the box as well as corners, so to get one at a vital stage, I was happy with myself and for the club.”

Many thought that the Hammers would struggle once Andy Carroll’s suspension was confirmed last week, but the team have risen to the task and secured two more 2-0 victories to go with the one that Carroll engineered against Swansea City.

“I just think having Andy around the place has given us all a lift,” reflected Collins. “If I was a centre half playing against West Ham and he was in the tunnel next to me, I would know I was in for tough game.

“He got suspended which was disappointing, but it has given a chance for others to come in. Carlton Cole has been great and Marco Borriello has done well as well.

“We haven’t had a squad together like this for a long time, so I think everyone can see there is a lot of confidence.”

Jaded

Things did not always go to plan on Tuesday as Norwich carved out some good chances, but the defender thinks that the team were still a little jaded after their fine victory at Villa Park on Saturday.

“There was some tiredness, certainly myself anyway,” confessed Collins. “It was a tough old game on Saturday, they really put it on us in the second half and we had to defend for long periods.

“But the crowd got behind us and we got the late goals which is brilliant.”

Nothing for granted

Victory moved West Ham up to 10th place before last night’s games, but Collins is still taking nothing for granted.

“The pressure is never off until you have got the sacred 40 points,” he said. “We knew that it would have been quite easy to think before the Norwich game that we had already done the job, but this was a massive game.

“I think until we got out there, we didn’t realise just how big the game was.

“We knew if we could put three wins together it would move us up from 17th or 18th to 10th, so it is nice to see results going for us.”

It certainly is.

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