James Collins hailed West Ham United's resilience and spirit after a heroic defensive display earned a deserved goalless Barclays Premier League draw at West Bromwich Albion.
The Hammers travelled to The Hawthorns having conceded three goals at home to Liverpool last weekend and without a clean sheet in their previous five league matches. West Ham also arrived in the West Midlands with just 17 fit senior players, having added George McCartney to a daunting-looking injury list in midweek.
However, led by the outstanding Collins and man of the match Winston Reid - and aided by the frame of the goal on three occasions - Sam Allardyce's team picked up a point against the fifth-place Baggies.
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"We worked very hard," the Wales international told West Ham TV
. "Coming away from home, especially to a place like West Brom where they have a great home record this season, was never going to be easy but we did work hard and we got a point.
"We could have nicked a victory. Winston has had a good chance in the first half when I nodded one down to him. Away from home you've got to have a bit of luck to get something and they have hit the post and the bar twice but all in all we defended very well.
"These are the most satisfying games to play in as a centre-back. To get a clean sheet, especially away from home, is vital and after conceding three at home to Liverpool last week we needed to stop conceding and we were delighted to get the clean sheet."
The No19 said the clean sheet gained at The Hawthorns was a mark of belief within the squad. Collins also said the goalless draw showed that last week's Liverpool defeat had not adversely affected the players.
"I don't think we were a team that deserved to concede three goals last weekend. It was a little bit harsh, especially my own-goal at the end where I had to go in and make the tackle, but we bounced straight back with a very solid defensive performance.
"We have got a few injuries, but that happens all the time, especially around Christmas. It's a busy period but everybody knows the spirit in our dressing room is unbelievable and whoever is asked to come in and play will do a decent job."
West Ham's gameplan at The Hawthorns was clearly to sit deep and let West Brom have possession - a tactical approach confirmed by Collins. The approach reduced the hosts to putting in hopeful crosses and shooting from outside the penalty area, rather than getting in behind the Hammers and peppering Jussi Jaaskelainen's goal with shots on target.
"That was the plan. Fair play to the gaffer because he said they like to keep the ball so if we sat back and tried to hit them on the break, we could get a positive result and that's how it panned out."
Looking forward, West Ham end their complement of home fixtures for 2012 with the visit of another of the Barclays Premier League's top six in Everton. David Moyes' side go into next weekend on a five-match unbeaten run and Collins knows they will be no pushover at the Boleyn Ground.
"It will be tough. They have done very well. They usually start off slow and come good at the end of the season but they have had a great start and we're expecting a tough game. If we can perform how we did at West Brom then I'm sure we can get three points."