Galey's View - Mar 9

Former Hammers defender Tony Gale provides his expert view every week, exclusively on

LOOKING back at last weekend's clash against Everton, it was the old cliché - a game of two halves. I thought we looked bright and lively in the first but Everton, who we know are a decent side, were the better team in the second half and perhaps should have gone on to win the game.
It puts into perspective just how much of an achievement it would be if we do manage to qualify for Europe at the end of the season, because Saturday proved that every game is a tough game - especially at this stage of the season, when almost everyone is scrapping for points to reach their aim, whether it be going for the title, pushing for Europe or avoiding relegation.
All in all, it was a decent draw, against a team who have been on a very good run and, away from home, are very difficult to break down. You can't expect to roll teams over every week and they will now come to Upton Park with the intention of spoiling our game, as sides did in the Championship. That is the price you pay for being successful and it is something the players will now have to deal with more often in the Premiership.
One big positive to come out of the Everton game was the performance of Dean Ashton, who is looking better every time I see him play. His touch and awareness was first class and the finish for his goal - on his weaker foot - was superb. That is what you pay big money for, and it's already clear that if we create chances for him, he will put the ball in the back of the net. The test for Dean now is to go on and prove himself at this level over two or three seasons, because that is how all top strikers are judged.

I'LL be heading up to Bolton this Saturday to cover the game for Sky, and I'm looking forward to another closely-fought encounter. The good news for the Hammers is that the pitch at the Reebok Stadium has just been re-laid, which will hopefully enable us to pass the ball much better than we did up there a few weeks ago.
I watched Bolton at home when they beat Fulham recently, and Fulham were the better side. Unfortunately, they didn't defend the set-pieces well enough but, if we can do that as well as we did in the FA Cup tie and play decent football, then we have a very good chance of taking all three points.
You can't try to play Bolton at their own game - the way to beat them is with quick, incisive passing and taking advantage of the fact that they lack pace at the back. It's also important that our own back four play high up the pitch and have the confidence to push out, because Bolton don't have the pace up front to hurt us in behind, but they can make things difficult and awkward if you drop off and let them bombard you on the edge of your own penalty area.
Obviously the big factor is that we are playing them at home in the FA Cup replay a few days later but I'm sure Pards will be urging his players to focus on this game only for now. The two matches are going to be very different, there is no doubt about that, but this one is just as important as the cup game when you consider our position alongside Bolton in the table. If we can pick up a win on Saturday, it will boost the confidence ahead of Wednesday, and hopefully knock the stuffing out of Bolton.

EVERYONE has been saying it recently, but this really is the 'business end' of the season now, and it will be interesting to see how Alan Pardew's young team will deal with it - will the young legs see us through and get the results, and can the young heads cope with the mental challenge that lies ahead?
You've got to know how to win games at this stage of the season, and the good thing is that the players did it last year as the end of the campaign approached, so they do know what it takes to cope with that kind of pressure.
Plus, from the sound of things, no-one is getting carried away inside the camp, and Pards appears to be keeping everything on an even keel. He will know that, at this stage, it really is about taking every game as it comes and not looking any further than that.
There are a lot of teams in and around us now who we still have to play before the end of the season - Bolton, Wigan, Manchester City and Tottenham - so it is still very much in our own hands. And it's all about results now. We saw Spurs outplayed by Blackburn last week, but they still won the game.
My advice to the players would just be to go for it. They have done the hard work in getting to this position and giving themselves a chance of finishing the season on a high. Now it's about holding their nerve and seizing the moment. There's nothing to suggest they can't do it, and let's hope there really is something riding on that derby against Spurs on the final day of the season…