Neil McDonald believes West Ham United can take heart from their performance in Wednesday's 3-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at Fulham.

The Hammers' recent indifferent run of results continued at Craven Cottage, but the assistant manager believes his side were unfortunate to lose in west London.

West Ham fell behind to a controversial Dimitar Berbatov goal early on, despite the Bulgarian appearing to be offside, and were still behind going into the break.

The visitors roared out of the blocks after half-time and were level within three minutes when Kevin Nolan expertly finished Mark Noble's low free-kick. However, just 60 seconds later, slack defending allowed Hugo Rodallega to head in Damien Duff's cross to put Martin Jol's side back in front.

And West Ham's misery was complete when Joey O'Brien deflected the ball into his own net in added-time, condemning the Hammers to a defeat that drops them to 13th in the table.

"We were disappointed because our performance was higher than it has been away from home," said McDonald. "I thought we played some excellent stuff and mixed the play up really well, playing through the midfield and dominating the second half.

"I thought we created chance on chance so to come away with nothing is hugely disappointing considering how we played.

"We feel as if their first one is offside and we could have maybe had a couple of penalties ourselves so that makes it even worse. We're all disappointed but we'll be in on Thursday licking our wounds and ready for the game on Saturday against Swansea, when we need to get some points on the board."

The assistant manager admitted the nature of Fulham's ultimately decisive second goal was particularly difficult to stomach.

"At the training ground we work on it so that when we do score, we don't concede as quickly as what we did. It's not just one person, but the whole team who have to try to win the ball back and try to force Fulham back so they can't create a chance.

"We haven't stopped the cross, which is disappointing, and we certainly haven't dealt with the ball inside the box, so we've been clinically put to the sword, I suppose.

"We certainly shouldn't have conceded a second goal like that and we haven't conceded a goal like that during the season. We've got to make sure we don't do it again, because when we scored the goal we were right on top and we had Fulham under pressure.

"We were hoping it was only a matter of time before our goal came, so it knocks the stuffing out of you to concede so soon afterwards when we were putting them under pressure."

Last season, West Ham plundered a club-record number of away wins, but it is now just one point from a possible 21 on the road.

So, why are the Hammers failing to impose their high-pressure game on teams away from home like they did in the npower Championship?

"First, it is certainly a lot harder when you come away from home in the Premier League, but we are vastly more encouraged by our performance.

"At Arsenal, I think we had ten minutes when they were absolutely outstanding and everything they did dropped to them and they put the ball into the back of the net, they were clinical and killed us off. I don't think Fulham were like that.

"What encouraged us was how many chances we created and how much football we played in their half. We put them under pressure, we need to be more clinical ourselves."

One player West Ham hope will help them to punish their opponents in front of goal is Andy Carroll, who returned from two months out with a knee injury as a second-half substitute.

The England centre forward worked Mark Schwarzer with a low shot within seconds of his introduction and later fired an effort over.

"He is going to be very important," McDonald confirmed. "We have lots of players back fit and that's probably the strongest bench we've had this season. Everyone is coming back to fitness now and there is going to be one hell of a competition for places and that's good."

West Ham return to the more plentiful surroundings of the Boleyn Ground on Saturday, when Swansea City are the visitors.

Michael Laudrup's team have recently reached the Capital One Cup final, and the assistant manager is hoping they may have one eye on their big day out at Wembley, instead of being fully focused on the Barclays Premier League.

"Our home form has been very good and we'll try to play on the front foot and create chances. We'll certainly be doing that against Swansea on Saturday.

"We have to try to take advantage of everything we possibly can and we need to win our home games if we want to go up the league and put ourselves in a better position than we are at the moment.

"All newly-promoted teams go through these little patches. We were encouraged by the performance even if we were hugely disappointed with the result, because we played on the front foot and created chances. If we can keep that going for the rest of the season, we'll be fine."