Downes looking up

Wally Downes believes a correctly-disallowed goal provided the catalyst for West Ham United's unforgettable 4-0 Carling Cup quarter-final victory over Manchester United.

The Boleyn Ground went wild when Victor Obinna's 16th-minute shot appeared to take a deflection off a visiting defender before spinning past Tomasz Kuszczak. However, replays showed the strike had instead struck Jonathan Spector, who was stood a yard offside.

It took at least a minute for referee Mark Clattenburg and his assistant to rule out the 'goal', while Obinna and his team-mates celebrated with the home fans.

The decision to disallow the goal caused the decibel level to rise still higher and, with the crowd roaring them on, Spector headed West Ham into the lead six minutes later.

The American added a second on 37 minutes before Carlton Cole's second-half brace completed the rout of the holders.

"You could see the confidence in the dressing room after Tuesday's performance. Saturday [against Wigan Athletic] was a 'win at all costs' game and it didn't matter how we played as long as we got the win.

"On Tuesday, we made a little bit of a dodgy start and weren't bang at it for the first five or ten minutes, but when we got that little break - I think the disallowed goal helped and the crowd were with us - and got a little bit more determined because we thought we were on the wrong end of a decision.

"Little things like that can turn matches and it turned in our favour."

Downes, who has been coaching the defence since arriving at the club less than a fortnight ago, said the squad had been desperate to put things right following the 3-0 league defeat at Liverpool on 20 November.

"The lads have all pulled together and wanted to get that Liverpool result out of their systems. They have responded to everything we have said to them since and when you put your all in in training and in the games, you get results.

"There is a determination within them to show they can play football. They let one another down and let the fans down at Liverpool and have gone about the last two games to show that they are passionate about what they are doing."

Downes admitted that West Ham's newly-found defensive resilience was, in part, down to getting back to basics. The old adage of 'if in doubt, kick it out' is one that centre-backs Matthew Upson and James Tomkins noticeably employed in the victories over Wigan and Manchester United.

"That's right. If the ball is there, you have to get rid of it. There's no value to over-complicating things in your own final-third. I like to play football in the opposition's half. That's where the damage is caused, so the more you can keep it away from your goalkeeper the better."

Looking forward, Downes is eager for the players to show their determination to win in every game they play in league and cup, starting with Sunday's Barclays Premier League trip to Sunderland.

"We have got to keep going right the way through to May - every time they pull the shirt on and every time they cross the line, they have got to be up for it."