Titi's Claim

Titi Camara insists that he should have been given an 83rd minute penalty when he felt he was tripped by Clint Hill in last night's Worthington Cup defeat against Oldham Athletic.

While, it must be said, Wayne Andrews might also have earned a spot kick when he tumbled under a challenge from David James, Titi - making his first start since February 2001 - insists he should have been given the decision in his favour.

"It was a definite penalty but the ref didn't whistle - maybe next time we will get that sort of break," he says.

If referee had applied the letter of the law, having decided it wasn't a penalty, it could be argued he should have booked Titi for a dive.

He did just that - harshly, it appears - to Jermain Defoe when he got 'sandwiched' between two Oldham defenders earlier in the second half.

And a booking then for Titi would have resulted in an eventual sending off as he was yellow carded later in the game when tempers spilled over following an incident in which Ian Pearce, also booked, was at the heart.

As it is, West Ham joined Birmingham, Manchester City, Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Tottenham in exiting the competition courtesy of a defeat by a lower division side, and continue an unhappy sequence of cup defeats to lower league teams that now stretches to five consecutive seasons.

Reading beat West Ham on penalties in the same competition a year ago and Sheffield Wednesday grabbed a Worthington win 12 months prior to that.

Tranmere put the club out of the FA Cup in the 1999-00 season, the same year that West Ham fielded a certain Manny Omoyimni against Aston Villa in the Worthington Cup.

Ironically, he was in action - for Oxford - in the Worthington Cup on Wednesday, once more against Villa; but whether he played legally or not is immaterial as the Midlands side won 3-0.

In 1998-99 it was Northampton Town who put West Ham out of the Worthington Cup - in the year that Swansea knocked the Hammers out of the FA Cup.

In the 1997-98 season the Hammers took a break from giant killings, losing to Arsenal in the quarter finals of both competitions, but the year before that Wrexham and Stockport - with an Iain Dowie own goal - beat West Ham in the FA and Worthington Cups respectively and in 1995-96 it was the turn of Grimsby Town, with a 3-0 replay victory in the FA Cup.

But the history lesson doesn't impress Titi, who groans: "It was a big chance to get a home win against a lower league side so no one is happy - not the players, and not the fans."

West Ham are the only one of the 92 Premiership and Nationwide clubs without a home win and Titi admits: "It is a big problem; away there is no pressure but at home there is.

"We have to work hard in training and it is possible to beat Leeds on Sunday."