'We're getting better'

Gianfranco Zola believes his West Ham United team deserved all three points from their Barclays Premier League trip to Portsmouth.

Instead, the Hammers had to settle for just one following a 1-1 draw at Fratton Park on Tuesday evening, leaving the manager wondering what might have been. Matthew Upson bundled the visitors into the lead early in the second half, only for substitute Danny Webber to snatch an equaliser with just 14 minutes remaining.

It was the club's first fixture since David Sullivan and David Gold took commercial and operational control a week ago and the joint chairmen were present at Fratton Park to see the side turn in another battling performance.

Zola said: "It's starting to get better but I didn't take it very well, to be honest, because I thought we had control of the game and I couldn't see them scoring. We were defending very well and creating chances going forward. Actually, I was expecting to score another goal at any time."

While there was a semblance of luck about Upson's opener, which looped over Asmir Begovic after hitting the captain's right shoulder, there was also more than a suggestion of an infringement in the build up to Webber's leveller.

Kevin-Prince Boateng appeared to catch James Tomkins in the face with a stray arm - causing an injury that led to the defender's withdrawal soon afterwards - before finding John Utaka. The Nigerian fed Webber, whose low finish eluded the otherwise unbeatable Robert Green.

"It's OK. It's fair to say they fought hard until the end. Maybe on their goal, there was a foul on James Tomkins, but I have to see it to be more precise. Everybody said it was a foul, but it's OK. Nothing takes away from the fact we played a good game and we're getting better and better."

While he admitted to being slightly disappointed not to get the better of Avram Grant's side, Zola was satisfied that his team had not allowed bottom-placed Pompey to close the five-point gap between themselves and the Hammers.

"We were playing against a team that was behind us so it was important not to lose, but honestly I believe we deserved something more from the game.

"I am pleased with the players. Maybe we could have got something more, but I can only praise these players, because their attitude and the way they play is unbelievable. They give everything for the team and that's important."

With five days to go until the end of the January, the manager revealed that new faces could arrive at the club before the transfer window closes. However, he was also quick to praise the players who are already giving everything for the claret and blue cause.

"Maybe we could have more quality in the future and it will benefit everybody, but whoever comes in must have the same attitude these boys have because that is the key to our success."

One player who will feel like a new signing for Zola is Carlton Cole, who returned from two months on the sidelines with a knee injury to play for 20 minutes on the south coast.

With important fixtures against Blackburn Rovers, Burnley and Birmingham City to come over the next few weeks, the manager was delighted to have his leading scorer back on the pitch.

"It's very good to see him. I think it was important to give him a few minutes, but I must say it was difficult to take off Frank Nouble, because he played well again and I was delighted with his performance."