Darren's Home Comforts

THE last time defender Darren Powell played at Upton Park he was wearing a Crystal Palace shirt and on the receiving end of a 3-0 defeat.

Well, things certainly went better for the on-loan centre-half against Watford in the Hammers last home game, scoring as the Hammers came back to beat the Hornets 3-2.

And after another colossal performance at the heart of West Ham's defence in the 2-0 win at Sunderland, Darren is looking forward to being back in front of the Hammers faithful on Friday night.

But, ever modest, the 28-year-old, admits that he would just settle for a win against Leeds United.

"It was a great debut against Watford," he confessed, "and I was pleased to score in front of the home fans. But the most important thing was the three points. It was a tough start to find ourselves two goals down, really out of the blue after we had started well. But we hit back early, I managed to get the equaliser, and then we really took control of the game in the second-half.

"It was a good performance from the team, and we'll be hoping to recreate that form against Leeds in another tough game. If I score then that would be an added bonus, but three points is all that really matters."

Since arriving at the Club on loan from Crystal Palace, Darren has been a colossus at the back for Alan Pardew's men, playing a major role in two great wins over Watford and Sunderland. But he insisted that the Hammers fans are just as important as any players out on the pitch at Upton Park.

"It's a great stadium and the fans are tremendous," he exclaimed. "I love playing in big occasions and for atmosphere Upton Park is really hard to beat. It was great to turn in a good performance in front of the home fans on my debut and hopefully there will be many more to come."

After his impressive home bow Darren put in another commanding display at the Stadium of Light, repelling a potent Sunderland attack and helping the Hammers to their first clean sheet away from home since the opening day of the season.

"It was a really strong team performance at Sunderland," agreed Darren. "It was important for us to build on the win at Watford, and we showed against Sunderland that we can produce good results away from home.

"The team was going through a tough run when I arrived at the Club, but I've been impressed by the way we have responded to the criticism. We showed tremendous character against Watford and then again at Sunderland, beating a team that had not lost at home all season.

"It's important now to build on our good displays over the last couple of weeks. We're going into the Christmas games with a lot of confidence, so hopefully we can put together a good run of results and push ourselves up towards the automatic promotion places."