Grant mystified by late call

Avram Grant was once again left to rue a late decision after Birmingham City battled back from two goals down to earn a draw on Saturday.

The manager was convinced that Lars Jacobsen had been tugged back as he entered the Blues penalty area with four minutes to play. He was as mystified not to see a spot-kick awarded as he was by the ruled out 'goal' at Wolverhampton Wanderers three weeks ago - when Frederic Piquionne was penalised despite not handling the ball.

Grant said: "I don't know if the word is 'unlucky', it's more 'farce' because the referee was just five metres away, when he saw that Lars Jacobsen's shirt was pulled and he didn't give us a penalty. What more can you ask for?

"I'm very disappointed because it's not the first time that it's happened [this season] I don't understand why he did not give the penalty. Perhaps it's because we are a polite team and do not jump on the referee. Maybe next time we will have to do things differently."


The manager could not fault his players' again as they took a two-goal lead before the hour. First, Piquionne drilled the ball past Ben Foster after latching on to a sublime Luis Boa Morte pass two minutes after the interval. Then, Valon Behrami slammed the ball in after superb work from Scott Parker, Boa Morte and the magnificent Carlton Cole

"It was a good performance today and that makes the referee's decision not to give a penalty even harder to take," added Grant. ""We played well and I'm not even sure that it was a foul for the free-kick that led to their second goal. The performance was good, we played well."

Cole could have scored in the first half but for a wonder save from Foster, Victor Obinna produced an equally fine stop from the England man that would have made it three-nil and surely a first away win since the opening day of last season. As it was, Blues roared back to reduce the deficit through Cameron Jerome before former Academy trainee Liam Ridgewell pounced in the 73rd minute to level.

Reflecting on his team's football with the fit-again Matthew Upson and Cole - for the injured Manu da Costa and Mark Noble - the only changes from last week's narrow loss at Arsenal, Grant said: "Our goals came from good combinations, good passes and good football. We could've scored a third one but Ben Foster made two unbelievable saves today from Carlton Cole and Victor Obinna. We deserved three goals. I'm happy with the performance but disappointed with the result.

"At 2-0, I think we tried to do the right thing we continued to pass the ball and we hit the bar but because Birmingham realised that they could not play how they wanted to, they started to play the direct ball.

"When we were winning 2-0 we needed to keep the ball. I cannot say that Birmingham scored great goals, they scored from direct play and a set-piece. Sometimes you need to be able to deal with these situations, too, but today we didn't do that.

"There were a lot of encouraging signs today. We were the better side. We played the football and were denied by their keeper, the post and the crossbar. The keeper was great - he saved them from two or three goals more."

The point may prove a precious one - especially as only a Gabbidon deflection on to the crossbar denied the home side late on - and the Hammers will head into the visits of West Bromwich Albion and Blackpool on Wednesday and Saturday respectively in good heart. "Over the past two months we've shown that we deserve to be in the middle of the table and we will be if we play like this.

"I want points and today we did everything to get a win and we deserved all three of them. I don't like to say the word deserved but we've deserved more in many matches on the football-side this season. If we continue with this attitude and effort then the points will come."