Rotherham Recovery

AS he recovers from seeing his Hammers fight back to earn a 2-2 draw against Rotherham, Alan Pardew praised the character shown by his team as they responded to haul themselves out of a precarious half-time position at Millmoor.

Penalties from Teddy Sheringham and Marlon Harewood capped a fine comeback from West Ham, and they might have won it had Harewood found a route past Rotherham goalkeeper Mike Pollitt late on.

"We showed tremendous character in the second-half," said Pards. "Rotherham went into the game off the back of an excellent result at Leicester and were really up for it against us.

"We found that difficult to cope with in the first-half. We didn't defend well and found ourselves in a very difficult situation at half-time.

"But we needed to keep our heads and our shape, stay calm and try and find a way back into the game. We needed a big second-half performance to get something out of the game and I was pleased with the way the players responded to a tough situation."

Strikers Teddy Sheringham and Marlon Harewood had particularly impressive second periods and the duo converted a penalty each to level the scores. However, in a bizarre ritual, each man declined to take the penalty they had won - Sheringham scoring after Harewood had been fouled by Pollitt and Marlon stepping up once Teddy had been sent sprawling in the box.

"Coming out for the second-half I knew we needed big characters and big players to change the game," said Pards. "That's why we resisted making changes at half-time, and we were rewarded by those players who did give big performances after the break.

"Teddy Sheringham in particular showed his quality, linked play up extremely well and scored the first penalty.

"I was a little bit puzzled when he stepped aside to let Marlon take the second, especially after he had scored the first penalty. But Marlon hit a great spot-kick, which was just reward for a hard-working display.

"In the end we had enough pressure and efforts on goal to have won what was a terrifically entertaining game for the neutrals."

Not that there seemed to be too many of those in the crowd, especially after referee Iain Williamson had awarded the Hammers their second penalty in five minutes when Millers defender Martin McIntosh upended Sheringham. Pards, however, was convinced that both penalty decisions were correct.

"I thought we had three very good penalty claims in the match," he said, "two in the second-half that were given and one in the first half that wasn't.

"Credit to the referee, because it's not easy to award two penalties in five minutes to a visiting team. But he was brave enough to point to the spot on both occasions and I thought he made the right decisions."

With precious little breathing space at this time of year, Pards must now prepare his side for the trip to Championship leaders Ipswich Town on New Year's Day. The Hammers boss candidly admitted that improvements need to be made if his side are to take away the points at Portman Road.

"There are positives we can take from the second-half at Rotherham," he said, "but there are also a lot of things that need to be put right.

"We will need to defend much better against Ipswich, who are probably the best attacking side in the League, and I'm sure they'll be individual players who will want to do better.

"After the last two games Stephen Bywater has been upset about his personal performances and I know he's desperate to and show everybody how good he is on Saturday.

"We can also do a lot better as a team and I'm sure we'll show that in a very tough match at Portman Road."

Steve Lomas limped off after half an hour at Millmoor with a calf strain and will be a doubt for Saturday's match. Anton Ferdinand missed the Rotherham game with flu while Carl Fletcher has a groin injury.