Pards Insists It Isn't Over For Hammers

ALAN Pardew remained defiant after watching his side concede two second-half goals to go down 2-1 against Sunderland at Upton Park.

The Hammers boss insisted his side can still claim a Play-off place and assured supporters his side would stay focused on what is now a must-win match at Watford on the final day of the season.

"It's not over," insisted Pards. "We can still get a Play-off place, but a lot now depends on the results of the teams around us.

"From our point of view, we've got to focus on the game at Watford next week. It's going to go down to the last day of the season, and a draw won't be good enough for us.

"That Watford game is now a match we've got to win and that's what we're going to be focussing on next week.

"The teams around us have got tough games on that last day and what ever happens we've still got a chance.

"I told the players after the game that they put maximum effort in. Things could have been done better, but we were up against a very good side and if we put that effort in at Watford and we win, then who knows."

Hammers took a one goal lead into half-time thanks to Marlon Harewood's strike. But Pards admitted his side struggled to contain the Black Cats after the break, as goals from Julio Arca and Stephen Elliott secured the Championship title for Mick McCarthy's men.

"We won't play a better team than that between now and the end of the season," he said. "Without some key senior players we had a very young team out there tonight.

"I though through the middle of the pitch we were excellent, and Nigel Reo-Coker and Hayden Mullins put in really strong performances.

"But the ascendancy we had in the first-half did get away from us, and at 1-1 we were scrapping for that second goal without really playing any fluid football.

"We got a bit deep as Sunderland started to come on us, and Matty Etherington's injury disrupted our flow as well.

"The two young centre-halves, who have been magnificent of late, found it tough at times, but you've got to remember that this is a very strong Sunderland side and they'll certainly learn from the experience.

"Now the players and staff have got to pick themselves up, because we've got to prepare ourselves for what will be another crucial game at Watford next week.

"It's still far from over and we've got a chance."