Sam Allardyce was left to curse West Ham United's bad luck after another encouraging away display failed to yield any Barclays Premier League points.
Sunday's trip to Aston Villa followed the same pattern as many of the Hammers' recent away days, as Big Sam's side saw more of the ball and enjoyed the better chances but ultimately left with nothing. A Villa penalty and free-kick and a combination of some generous finishing from the Hammers and inspired goalkeeping from Brad Guzan put paid to any chance of securing this season's first 'double', as the Villains ran out 2-1 winners.
"I think anybody who watched our performance would say we deserved something out of the game," Big Sam told whufc.com. "The sad thing is that after dominating the match for so long in the second half, we paid a heavy price for not converting our chances into goals.
"If you look at the goal we did score it's only a half chance at best and it's deflected into the net. And when we did hit the target, the goalkeeper has pulled off some unbelievable saves, and then even when we've beaten the goalkeeper it's been stopped by someone on the line.
"We can only hope that the bit of influence you can't control turns our way. Whether it's the bounce of the ball or whatever turns in our favour; if you carry on playing like we did then we'll start scoring goals and we'll start winning a football match away from home, which we're so desperate to do for everybody."
After an even first half, the Hammers came out flying in the second but could not find the breakthrough after a series of corners and dangerous crosses. But as Villa broke up the other end, Mark Noble upended Charles N'Zogbia in the penalty area to allow Christian Benteke to send Jussi Jaaskelainen the wrong way from the spot. Shortly after, James Tomkins fouled substitute Darren Bent and N'Zobgbia sent an unstoppable free-kick into the top corner past Jaaskelainen.
"It's a shame as we had a very good performance against Fulham and we suffered a defeat in that one as well. If we could have just found a clean sheet at Villa we would have been winners. We can moan about giving the penalty away but before that we should have been one or two in front and it wouldn't have mattered quite so much.
"At the end of the day it's not Aston Villa's creativity that's got them the result, it's us giving the penalty and free-kick away. Before that and after that, you can't create any more chances than we created. Unfortunately no matter how hard we try we just can't put the ball in the back in the net.
"Mark Noble shouldn't have done it but in the throws of the game you stick a leg out and Charles N'Zogbia goes down. James' free-kick was a soft one but it's about interpretation of the law as you can't tackle from behind. In the end, though, the only thing that they've done really well in front of goal was Charles N'Zogbia's free-kick, after that they didn't do anything to trouble Jussi.
"I thought we totally dominated the second half and created many chances to score a goal, against a team playing on their home ground, but because we failed to take those chances we didn't win."
Big Sam, his coaching staff and the first-team squad will now depart for warmer shores to squeeze in some vital warm-weather training. Last season's trip at a similar time proved to be a catalyst for a fine run-in during which the Hammers only lost one game. With a big London derby with Tottenham Hotspur next up, Big Sam feels it is important his players are given an opportunity to mentally and physically rest.
"It's always important to have a break. Pretty much every team has been away this season and there are a few going away the same time as us. It can be a long slog through the winter months with the wet and cold weather as it was at Villa.
"It's time for the players to recuperate and regenerate their minds and bodies. It's not just important for the next game we've got but for the next eleven games after that. We've got to get the mental side of the players right and then try to produce a performance against Tottenham. From there on we must ensure we have the mental and physical freshness to pick up more and more points."
Joint-Chairman David Gold explained on Sunday that he, David Sullivan and the West Ham United manager are all relaxed about new contract discussions and Big Sam confirmed he is only interested in focusing on ensuring the Hammers get back to winning ways against Spurs for the time being.
"I know my relationship with David Sullivan and David Gold well and the conversations that we have remain confidential. I'm more than happy to do the job that I'm doing right now and speculation regarding my contract situation has nothing to do with anybody else but the owners."
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