Carlton feels the pain after Euro knockout

Carlton Cole couldn't hide his disappointment or frustration after seeing West Ham United's brave attempt to progress in Europe end in tears against Palermo on Thursday night.

The powerful striker made his first competitive start for the Club as Alan Pardew reshuffled the pack for our UEFA Cup first round, second leg clash in Sicily, and came so close to being the hero as Hammers created several chances in a battling performance, only to be stung by a hurtful 3-0 defeat.

"We're all really disappointed," said Carlton. "It was always going to be a tough task to come over here and turn things around - they are playing well at the moment and the atmosphere in the stadium was always going to be very hostile.
"Quite a few of our lads have never had that European experience, but we always felt that we had the personnel to get a result and, when you look back at it, we were really unlucky.

"The game kind of hinged on that five minute spell before half-time, when we really peppered their goal but just couldn't find the net. Credit to their goalkeeper, he made some fantastic saves - I'm still not sure how he kept my shot out - and then they go straight up the other end and get what was a bit of a cheap goal.

"It was the same sort of sucker-punch they hit us with in the first half but, to be fair to the lads, we stuck in there and tried to pull it back in the second half. Again, we had some chances but there was always the danger they would hit us on the counter-attack and sadly that was how it turned out."

And just as sadly for Carlton, his evening came to a premature end just 12 minutes after the break when, having crashed a header against the post that would have left Hammers needing just one more goal to progress, he went down suffering with severe cramp and was forced to hobble off.

"On another day, that header would have gone in and, with more than half an hour to play, we would have been in a really good position," he says. "It kind of summed up our luck, though, and mine too I suppose!

"As I landed, I was just hit by severe cramp, right through my leg. My hamstring and calf just locked up, and it took more than 30 minutes to wear off, so there was no way I could have carried on.

"I was really disappointed, because I was delighted to get my chance to start and desperate to help the lads pull off a result. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be, and I'm so frustrated at how it all turned out.

"All we can do now is look forward, though," he adds. "There were some positives from the game and we need now to take them into Sunday's match against Reading. Hopefully I will be involved again, but the main thing is that the team produce a winning performance that gets us back on track again."

And finally, the Hammers striker insisted on giving a mention to the 2,000 plus loyal Hammers fans who made the trip over to Sicily to provide their usual fantastic support.

"They were absolutely fantastic," he says. "When we came into the dressing-room at the end, I felt so sorry for them, because they travelled so far and we were unable to give them the result they deserved.

"I'm sure they will get behind us again on Sunday, though, and all I can say is that we will keep fighting for them. Hopefully, we will get the little bit of luck that we need - and deserve - and the lads really want the supporters to keep backing us as they did tonight, because they can be our 12th man when things are tough."