Obinna hails interval intervention

Victor Obinna has admitted a half-time team-talk from manager Avram Grant inspired West Ham United to come from behind to snatch a 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

With a number of players - Nigeria forward Obinna included - not returning from international duty to resume training at Chadwell Heath until Thursday, the Hammers made a poor start to proceedings at Molineux.

After falling behind to Matt Jarvis's tenth-minute volley, West Ham were indebted to goalkeeper Robert Green, who kept the visitors in the game with fine saves from David Jones and Christophe Berra.

Green's heroics were to prove invaluable as Grant's half-time team talk and tactical change - the manager switched from an ineffective 4-4-2 to a free-flowing 4-3-3 - led to an impressive second-half recovery.

Mark Noble equalised from the penalty spot after Obinna was fouled eight minutes after the break, while both the No33 and fellow forward Frederic Piquionne had opportunities to secure victory for their side.

"The manager was really mad at us for the first half because he knows what we're capable of doing, the kind of team we are and the quality in the team. He was upset with the way we played in the first half and told us a few words and said 'Guys, you know you are better than this. Go out and prove yourselves and win this game'.

"He was not really, really angry - he was upset. I think he was justified. I think Wolves were the better side in the first half because they had good ball position, good movement and everything about the first half.

"Their fans were also pushing them to do well and mostly the first half was not that good for us. We tried to play our football, but their goalkeeper was kicking lots of long balls and their midfielders were taking the second balls. It wasn't the game we wanted to play.

"In the second half, we changed the play and the way we wanted to play. We played 4-3-3 and you saw how the game changed."

Obinna pointed to the midweek round of international fixtures as a factor in West Ham's slow start. He and DR Congo defender Herita Ilunga both returned to their home continent for CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, while Mexico's Pablo Barrera and the United States' Jonathan Spector both made trans-Atlantic trips and Winston Reid returned to New Zealand to turn out for their countries in friendly matches.

Closer to home, England's Robert Green, Denmark's Lars Jacobsen, Israel's Tal Ben Haim and Czech Republic Under-21 goalkeeper Marek Stech were all absent on UEFA European Championship qualifying duty.

"I think everybody is here now and the team is full. I believe a lot of us went to play for our national teams and we came back lately - some of us did not return until Thursday. It's pretty difficult for the coach to prepare for a game like this when you don't have a full team until Thursday.

"We didn't play very well in the first half but I think the second half was much better. We came back with the spirit. We know how to play football. We moved the ball around and we dominated virtually the whole second half and tried to play the sort of football we want to play.

"I believe we wanted to win this game. We wanted to continue the positive run we have started in the previous four games.

While Obinna will give everything to defeat Newcastle United at the Boleyn Ground this weekend, the on-loan Internazionale player believes Piquionne had done just that to Wolves.

The France forward appeared to have won all three points for the Hammers when he controlled and coolly finished past Marcus Hahnemann in added time, only for referee Mark Clattenburg to rule the 'goal' out for handball.

"It was a clean, clean goal. You could see it was here [Obinna points to his upper chest] and his hand was behind. I don't know what the referee was thinking. There was also a one-on-one situation before the end of the game when he whistled instead of waiting to see the ball. It was very bad. I think he should have played advantage."