Powell Points The Way

CHRIS Powell praised a battling Hammers performance in the 2-1 win over Wigan and admitted the victory had at least partially answered recent criticism of the team.

But the former England full-back confessed that West Ham's job is far from done as they look forward to a week that could yet define their promotion ambitions.

"We really gave a great team performance on Saturday," enthused Chris of the Wigan game. "It was a solid all round display and there was no one out there who didn't play well.

"We hadn't won in five games prior to Wigan and plenty of people had already written us off before the match had even started.

"But we showed the ability this squad has and proved that we are capable of beating the best teams in the League. That's wins at Sunderland, Ipswich and Wigan for us this season, and with that kind of record people might look at the league table and be surprised of the position we're in.

"However, I'm a great believer that you are where you deserve to be in the league, and that certainly applies to us. We definitely have the ability to beat the best teams in the division, but we haven't shown that against some of the so-called lesser teams and that's cost us points."

Having more than played his part in the second-half comeback that disposed of Wigan, Chris praised the character shown by the players, in particular the younger members of the team, who distinguished themselves in a tough atmosphere.

"There was a lot riding on the game and we showed tremendous character to come back after going a goal down," he said. "We were playing well when their goal went in. It actually came after a good move from us at the other end had broken down, so to show enough resilience to put that out of our minds and come back to win was really encouraging.

"It bodes especially well for our young players, because that was a hard game for them to play in. Everyone knows how dangerous their front two are, but I thought Anton Ferdinand and Elliott Ward coped extremely well.

"I think they took on board some words from the manager about handling the atmosphere and gave a really strong display. We had to keep it tight at the back, and they won their fair share of important tackles and headers.

"Without wanting to single too many players out I thought Nigel Reo-Coker had a really good game in midfield as well. That was always going to be an important area for us because Wigan's midfield is very strong. But Nigel showed that he can battle as well as play with the ball at his feet, and he looks back to his best."

With all his experience, the 34-year-old defender knows what a vital week this could be for West Ham's season. With seven games remaining it's all about wins and Chris called for the team to show their best again at Burnley on Tuesday night.

"It all comes down to the fact we've got seven games to play and we've got to make sure we get in the Play-offs," he said. "This week's really going to be important, as is next week and the week after that.

"We've just got to make sure that we do our job successfully and get the points tally we need.

"There are some tricky games coming up and now is the time for us to show maturity and make sure we give everything we have for this final push."