Sam Allardyce was encouraged by West Ham United's second-half performance as they came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Stoke City on Monday night.
Joey O'Brien was the unlikely goalscoring hero as he grabbed his first-ever Barclays Premier League goal in front of the Bobby Moore Stand to level the scores three minutes after half time. The strike helped launch a stirring 45 minutes from the hosts after Stoke had taken the lead when Jonathan Walters finished a well-worked corner routine on 13 minutes.
"It was a tough first half for us and their main threat was set plays," Allardyce said. "They build up in open play and once they get a few set plays around your box they are very dangerous. Unexpectedly though the goal was from John Walters rather than a header from one of their taller players. It was a great move from them and a great finish.
"We were a little disappointed at half time that we were getting in to the final third but our balls into their box were not good enough. We were doing it from the wrong areas rather than the wide positions pushed out towards the touchline.
"We pushed our full-backs on in the second half and told them to get forward and we started to change play from left to right and right to left rather than just down the middle. We wanted to get the ball behind their defence and right from kick-off in the second half, Kevin Nolan should have scored and then Joey O'Brien did score before we had several other chances to get that winner.
"We worked a brilliant corner ourselves and Gary O'Neil hit it just wide, their keeper made some good saves and there were some scrambles in the box.
"Sadly we couldn't find the ultimate winner that we deserved on the second-half performance. We've got 19 points from 12 games with nearly a third of the season gone.
"We can say it's a really good start - if you're five or six games in and you're fifth of six in the league that can happen, but when you're 12 games in and you're seventh in the league then you know it's a good start."
Big Sam was forced into two changes as both Matt Jarvis and Yossi Benayoun failed to recover from injuries picked up at Newcastle United, meaning Gary O'Neil and Modibo Maiga were handed starting places. Understandably, the Hammers took a little time to gel and the Potters took full advantage by edging the better of the first half.
"I was particularly pleased with the squad as we didn't have Matt Jarvis, Yossi Benayoun, Alou Diarra, Ricardo Vaz Te or Jack Collison. There are a lot of players missing but we still put a performance together like we did in the second half and I thought the crowd went home a little disappointed that we didn't win it on the way we played in the second half."
O'Brien featured on the front of the matchday programme under a feature entitled 'Unsung hero', but there is no doubt who would be taking the plaudits in Tuesday morning's press. His manager took particular pleasure in seeing his long-term servant tap in Gary O'Neil's cross after snapping him up from an uncertain future in the game last summer.
"He's playing better and better," Allardyce said of O'Brien. "This lad was a brilliant player at 19 in the Premier League at Bolton and then got lost in the wilderness of injuries and got forgotten about by everyone. I knew the potential so what he needed was for someone to show some belief in him again.
"Slowly but surely he's made his way forward and has proven that he's over his injuries that caused him all those problems. He's had a few niggles here and there but this season he has come on and we've seen the best of him and long may that last."
The Hammers squad will be in at Chadwell Heath early on Tuesday morning for a warm-down session and thoughts will immediately turn to Sunday's trip to Tottenham Hotspur. The fourth-consecutive Boleyn Ground crowd were once again in fine voice on Monday and a similar atmosphere is bound to greet Big Sam's side as they exit the White Hart Lane tunnel.
"We go to Tottenham full of confidence and hope to get some of the injured players back. We'll need to be as good if not even better than we were in our away wins at Queens Park Rangers and Newcastle as an attacking force.
"We've got to rely on our superb defensive qualities and then we've got to try to work on the areas that Tottenham leave exposed, particularly when we get got hold of the ball. If we can marry those two together then hopefully we can give a performance similar to our recent ones and try to get a result.
"We'll have to be on top of our game, as we had to be against Stoke. We played our top game in the second half and deserved to beat them but couldn't quite do it."