Grant makes a point


The oft-used phrase 'a game of two halves' was never better summed up by Saturday's 1-1 draw at Molineux - when only a seemingly harsh late decision denied Avram Grant's men all three points.

The Hammers arrived full of confidence after a four-match unbeaten run and, despite the setback of losing skipper Matthew Upson before kick-off with a neck spasm, were quick out of the blocks. Kieron Dyer - back in the side for the jet-lagged Pablo Barrera - led a lively opening spell but Wolves soon found their footing and took command of the first half - scoring deservedly through Matt Jarvis on just ten minutes.

Everything changed after the break, however, with Avram Grant sorting out his reorganised rearguard - featuring Tal Ben Haim at left-back and Danny Gabbidon at centre-half - and seeing his midfield and forwards suddenly find their rhythm.

"It was a totally different game," said Grant. "We started the game very well for the first five or ten minutes and created some possibilities to score goals but then they became better than us, they scored a goal, they passed the ball well and were very energetic.

"Wolves were the better team in the first half but then we were better in the second half. We played better, we created chances and could easily have won the game.

"At half-time we spoke about changing things tactically so that Wolves could not dominate the game. It was an away game and we spoke about the need to show character and spirit. We've had problems in the past but this is the second game that we have come back from being a goal behind. That shows good character."

Parity was secured in the 53rd minute when Victor Obinna burst into the box before being upended. Mark Noble dispatched the penalty with aplomb and from then on it was all about the visitors. Frederic Piquionne smashed a superb effort against the bar, Carlton Cole twice went close and on a couple of occasions, some penetrative play was only just thwarted.

Most notably, Piquionne was denied a clear goal for a handball decision that never was right at the death. Although frustrated on a day when the club honoured the late Malcolm Allison by wearing black armbands, Grant was sanguine about the setback. "We scored and had another one in the last minute but the referee decided that it was not a goal.

"Afterwards, I looked at it [on the television monitor] in the tunnel and saw that it was a goal. Ten minutes before that, he gave us a foul, when one of our players was in front of the goal.

"In my opinion, Mark Clattenberg is one of the best referees in the game but they are human beings and they make mistakes. Unfortunately, it was against us and it cost us two points.

"It's not the first time that's happened. The first goal at Aston Villa, at Manchester United and against Bolton Wanderers the referees made mistakes but I must say that Mark is a very good referee.

"In the very last minute it could also have been very sweet for us. It was clear that the ball hit his chest. Frederic Piquionne said that the ball was not even close to his hand."

Although the Hammers are on their best run since April 2009 and just a win from mid-table in a congested championship, they remain bottom of the league and without a league victory on the road for 13 months. Grant is aware but not wary.

"The away win will come. Today we won but then the referee decided not! If we can play like this in the away games then a win will come at the end of the day."