Filed: Tuesday, 10th April 2012
By: Staff Writer
Naturally disappointed at losing a two goal lead, Chris Hughton felt that, in retrospect, a point represented a job well done...
Chris: were you relieved to get a point in the end?
No, certainly not relieved. We were 3-1 up and we dealt with a style of play, certainly in that second half, that made it very difficult for us. When you're playing a side like West Ham, as big and as powerful as they are, you know it's going to be a tough second half. You know it is.
You hope you can hold out but for me, possibly the pivotal moment was when [Guirane] N'Dow went off. He did a real good job in shielding - or trying to shield - the two centre halfs as much as possible and at times play in the back four when we were able to have that physical presence. But it was tough to keep it going for 90 minutes.
We are a team that have come here, scored three goals and there won't be many that do that. Not many have this season. Whether it's a dubious penalty or not I don't know but all I know is that the lad's two yards away and it's hit him with such force; it's certainly difficult to move your hands out of the way of that. But I've only got good things to say about my team, I thought we were excellent and well worthy of the draw today.
You talked about West Ham being vulnerable at home before the game. Were you surprised to be 3-1 up at half time?
Surprised, yes - because you know it's going to be a tough game here. To score that amount of goals in that period yes, of course it was a surprise. But I'm not surprised that we are able to do it, we've managed to score three goals in [each of] the last three games, two of them were away from home. So I know that we've got enough quality in our team to be able to score goals. But of course, you've got to be given the opportunities and you've got to be able to take the chances and we were.
I thought even in that second half, when were under an awful lot of pressure, had we just showed a little bit more composure on a couple of occasions... One in particular when had Keith Fahey had a little bit more quality in his pass, I think you would have seen [Chris] Burke through on a one v one. Perhaps, in the intensity of that second half, we just needed to show that little bit more composure when we had the ball.
Do you feel that, with the penalty being awarded when it was, the referee had in his mind the other penalty shouts?
Yeah, that didn't surprise me. Sometimes you get momentum in a game. They appealed on a lot of occasions, they'd thrown a lot of bodies into the box so once you do that there's always going to be contact in the box. They've appealed for quite a few; I haven't seen any of them, but from where I was I can't think of a genuine one that I would say should have been a penalty. The way the momentum of the game was going, [plus] the crowd, as soon as he struck it - and there's no denying the fact that it has hit his hand - I knew instantly that he would give a penalty.
Considering that you said the pressure was pretty intense, were you happy with the way that the team played?
I was delighted. I spoke before the game about how unfair it is to play against this type of opposition at this stage of the season, here at Upton Park which is a tough place to come. It's tough enough playing two games in two days anyway - I think we've played some 12, 13 games more than West Ham have done this season. To play two games in two days is tough anyway without one team having the advantage of the extra day [recovery period] and maybe that showed in the end, maybe it did. If I take that into consideration, it shows even more what an effort our team have put in.
Have those additional games affected your players adversely in the latter stages of the season?
No, we've got a good group of players that have enjoyed playing the amount of games that we've had. Come the end of the season, if you ask me if I'm pleased that we'd been in the Europa Cup then I don't know, it depends what happens in that last phase of the season. But at this stage I think it's been a plus for us as a club and as a team. I've got a group of players that just enjoy playing games, it just means that you miss out on a lot of the training days and the tactical days. You have to adjust your training, but what we will do is dust these players down now. We've got the grace of no midweek game, we go again on Saturday and they'll be ready.
In terms of the play-off picture, you've edged another point clear of the seventh and eighth-placed teams. You're almost there.
Well, after the disappointment of being 3-1 up and West Ham clawing it back to 3-3 the reality sets in. The reality is, it's a good point here. You can only get the wins that you need to get and the points you need to get and you hope that some of the other results go for you. The results today haven't been too bad for us, but whether we get into that top six or not won't be down to other teams, it'll be down to us. If we can keep the momentum that we've got at the moment, hopefully we'll be okay.
Was N'Daw's injury serious?
I don't know yet. Whether it's just fatigue... He's a big lad, he's had to jump to compete for a lot of balls and I think that's had a little bit of an effect on him.
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