David: Poll Didn't Axe Us

David James says he does not blame Graham Poll for his part in the controversial free kick scored by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the FA Cup the last time the Hammers played at home.

Mr. Poll stood over the ball before Hasselbaink's 'quick' free kick - though it has been timed as 41 seconds after the whistle went that the ball hit the net - and was condemned in many quarters for doing so.

He even apologised to Paul Goddard for doing it, and the referee's match assessor spoke to him about the incident.

But no action has been taken against him - and David has no complaints about that.

"I'm not going to have a go at the referee because they are human," he says, "although I will say that the position he took prior to the free kick was one of a referee who is going to mark out ten paces and wait for blow the whistle.

"I have never ever seen a referee do what he did and considering the timing of the incident and the goal it scuppered our chances.

"But that is football and it is water under the bridge; I would have been even more disappointed had it been a league game because it could have lost us three points which would have been more crucial.

"The cup is not a lottery but there is no guarantee of winning anything until you get to the final and win; I am disappointed we didn't win but at the same time the focus has got to be on the league.

"It was a bit of a choker considering we had the lead twice but ultimately it is the cup, and, as enjoyable as that is it is only any good if you win it.

"With possibly four more games you are nowhere as regards actually winning it."

As for the defeat at the Reebok stadium in the last league match, David says:

"Bolton was disappointing because we had the lion's share of the possession, but we didn't create enough good goal scoring opportunities.

"Credit to Bolton for putting everyone on the edge of the box to stop us creating those chances, but considering the amount of possession we had it was a bit frustrating.

"This year, 2002, we have had four away league games, lost all of them, scored one and conceded 11 - it is not good.

"Had we scored at Bolton, I think we would have gone on to win it, it was that sort of game.

"The frustration for me was that the ball went through Christian's legs for the goal and I saw it late, but it is one of those things where we haven't dealt with the situation ideally, someone has scored from it, and ultimately it has cost us the game.

"The disappointment is we didn't get the result; the position in the league is such that it hasn't cost us big time, but we could have jumped a little bit further away from the situation.

"A lot of players came in such as Scotty, Foxey, and Richard Garcia who did well, which is encouraging for the gaffer because it can be awkward bringing in so many non-regulars."

Another 'non-regular', by dint of a long standing knee injury, could make a return to first team action at the weekend.

With Sebastien Schemmel and Trevor Sinclair both suspended, not to mention Paolo Di Canio serving the final game of his three match ban, Ian Pearce is included in the squad - and could start.