Curbs left frustrated once again

Alan Curbishley was left disappointed with only a point for the second week running after West Ham United came so close to securing a vital victory from their trip to Newcastle United.

After a 2-2 draw at St James' Park, the Hammers boss was yet again left rueing a decision which he feels 'changed the face of the game' - James Milner's first goal on the stroke of half-time that should have been ruled out for offside - but he praised his team's battling performance and determination.

"We had played ever so well, especially in that first 45 minutes," said Curbs. "We were deservedly in the lead 2-0 and desperate to get to half-time, so we could take that lead in.

"But this is football and, as we all know, it can change dramatically in a second. Their goal was given so instead we went in 2-1 and the game suddenly had a different aspect to it.

"I was so disappointed with their goal. The linesman had put his flag up but, because Scott (Parker) didn't touch the ball, he's put the flag down again and not given offside.

"If you look at it, you can clearly see that if Scott touches the ball he's offside and, if he doesn't, he's interfering with play. He was not just around Roy Carroll or somewhere near him, he was right in front of his eyeline.

"I honestly think if the linesman had kept his flag up, there wouldn't have been anyone in the ground who would have complained."

Curbs admitted that the manner in which the goal had been conceded had a big effect on his players, who were understandably upset to see fortune fall against them once again.

He said: "I came in to our dressing-room at half-time, with everyone still enraged at the decision, and I had to calm it down. I was feeling the same but I had to get across to them that we were winning 2-1, we hadn't led 2-1 away from home like this for a long while and we had to go on from it.

"But it definitely changed the game and perhaps on our part, a little bit of anxiety crept in, because we so wanted to win this and maybe that affected us in the second half.

"When you are down near the bottom of the table and haven't won for a few games, this is what happens. If we were in mid-table then their goal would probably have been disallowed and Calum's goal given. I thought he (Calum) was up and above the defender when he headed in, but a foul was given instead. As I said, things do go against you when you are in our position.

"We've been hurt in the last couple of games with decisions that haven't been quite right and we should have had more points from these matches as a result.

"What we want is a three-pointer, because it will really give everyone here such a lift.

"But the commitment and the way we played, especially in the first half - without fear - we can definitely take in to the next game and go again from there."

by Laura Burkin