Grant reflects on 'strange game'

Avram Grant was rightly "happy with the performance" but "disappointed with the result" after a baffling day against Bolton Wanderers.

The Hammers were hugely unlucky not to be in front at the interval after a barnstorming first half inspired by Kieron Dyer, on his first start since March, and home debutant Pablo Barrera. However, the home side were to rue their profligacy including a missed Carlton Cole penalty as they ultimately lost 3-1 on their home opener.

Bolton took the lead on 48 minutes through a contentious own goal by Matthew Upson, who took a whack in the face in the process while being challenged by Kevin Davies. As with Aston Villa's offside opener last week, it set the match firmly in the opposition's favour with Upson's forced substitution adding injury to insult.

"It was a clear foul on the first goal," Grant said. "Davies couldn't get to the ball and he smashed his face [with his foot]. Last week it was the same, it was not a goal for me.

"Until the goal, we had defended well. Even though they have changed the way they play, they still play the direct ball. So they did it and we defended it well.

"Matthew was in the right place, he was in front of Davies and he couldn't score. He pushed him."

Bolton were to score twice more through Johan Elmander, either side of a Mark Noble penalty that gave the Hammers brief hope going into the final ten minutes. Grant said the scoreline certainly did not tell the story of the contest.

"It was a strange game. I don't know what to think. We played better than I thought we can play. Good football, good chances and quickly. We played like a team that is right near the top but we missed the penalty and a lot of chances.

"We played last week against Aston Villa, they had 30 per cent less chances than we had and they won the game. I was very happy with the performance, I was very disappointed with the result."

Of Cole's missed spot-kick on 32 minutes, Grant said the No9 had been confident of converting. "Carlton scored a penalty two weeks ago. Unfortunately he missed when it was the right moment for us to score because they were not in the game.

"We were all over them. But we responded well after that. We had two or three big chances to score. We didn't do it."

Grant lamented the continued absence of Thomas Hitzlsperger, with the already influential Germany captain watching on from the stands with his thigh injury but was cheered by Dyer, who lasted more than 70 minutes, and Barrera among others.

"Kieron Dyer was very good. He is a brilliant player and he played very well in the first half after a long time not playing. He is a clever player and he did well. Of course he cannot yet play 90 minutes but he is improving. He trained very hard and did well."

The manager knows full well the league matches get harder with Manchester United away on Saturday and then a rampant Chelsea at home on 11 September. He believed his men - and perhaps one or two new recruits - would certainly give a good account of themselves.

"We have a very tough two games coming but if you saw the spirit after the game last week and even after being two down today you know that this season we will not give up and keep fighting.

"Our squad is a little bit short and we want more players. Even today you saw the players that played did well. More important is how we respond. Again we were fighting and I was very pleased."