Zola cheered by spirit

Gianfranco Zola was encouraged by the spirited second-half display as West Ham United suffered a 2-0 derby loss to Tottenham Hotspur.

Luka Modric had given the hosts the lead in the eleventh minute and they went on to see the better openings of the first half. It was a different story after the break, however, as the visitors took the game to their opponents and looked to be the more likely to score until Jermain Defoe connected with a sucker punch second with just eight minutes to go.

"I said to the players I am delighted with the way they played in the second half," Zola said. "With that spirit and attitude it won't be long until we are winning again. We lost to one of the best teams in the country.

"In the second half we stood up against them and there was a moment that if a team was going to score I thought it would be us. When you play a team as good as Tottenham Hotspur they can create a goal from nowhere and that's what happened."

He was equally praiseworthy when asked about the supporters who gave arguably their display of the season with 90 minutes of non-stop singing. He said; "They were fantastic," he said. "My applause, my appreciation to them. I think the team gave them the performance they were looking for so I am delighted with that."

The West Ham United manager had to adjust his tactics early on when his side was denied the services of Scott Parker and Herita Ilunga through injury within 20 minutes. Luis Jimenez and Jonathan Spector were the replacements before Junior Stanislas arrived late on for Jack Collison.

"Losing them early didn't help and it restricts your options in the game especially when you've played two days before. The players on the pitch coped well, they were very good.

"Parker had a tight hamstring but shouldn't be too long. We'll see in the next two days. Ilunga is the same thing as his hamstring is tight so shouldn't be anything serious."

Tottenham had the luxury of recalling several rested players from their Boxing Day draw at Fulham but West Ham United remained unchanged aside from Valon Behrami's start in place of Mark Noble, as Zola was keen to keep the tight-knit unit that had performed so well of late together.

"I was considering making some changes but last year we did the same and didn't change many players and we were all right. I kept the same team because they were doing very well and I wanted to maintain the bond between the players."

Other than the two goals, Robert Green did not have many saves to make as the four defenders in front of him kept the main threats in white at bay. Particularly worthy of note was James Tomkins, who built on his solid outing on Boxing Day against Portsmouth with another assured display.

"The defence line was really good. James and Matthew Upson and Julien Faubert were really good. I'm pleased with the way we defended and I think the whole team is defending better.

"Tomkins is growing up a lot in confidence and security. The boy has got a future and if he keeps working hard he will be an important player."

Even at two goals down the Hammers did not give up and Alessandro Diamanti forced Heurelho Gomes into a diving save. The Italian showed flashes of his ability and his manager was keen to praise his versatility.

"Diamanti is more effective when he can come from behind and place balls for people running into the box. His best position is when he is in behind and can use his skills. His best quality is setting balls for the others.

"Against Spurs he did some good things. I have to think about Diamanti and think about the balance. I am playing him as a left midfielder at the moment but he can play as a striker on the left in a 4-3-3. I think it is going well and he is improving.

"The position he is playing in he is very effective and that is the right position for him. Right now it is better to have him in that position."

As the Hammers sign off a decade of highs and lows with the match, Zola now has six days to ready his players for a FA Cup third-round match with Arsenal on Sunday. Guille Franco picked up his fifth booking of the season so will miss the game, but Zola is at ease knowing that he has the option of drafting in Frank Nouble should he need to.

"I was thinking of bringing Frank Nouble in. He is doing better in training, whether he is ready, it will be the pitch that will tell me. It was a 50/50 between him and Junior and I decided to use Junior's speed and quality in a one on one situation. He has more experience than Nouble, but I think his chance will come soon."

Franco's absence may also allow Zola to look at other formations as he seeks to add some extra attacking impetus to his side.

"In the first half he was isolated but that was the game. We wanted to close them down and use him as a reference with Collison and Diamanti. In the second half we put Jimenez up front to provide more support. I know he needs a bit more help and we have to adjust some things."