Villa defeat stuns Hammers

Avram Grant has said West Ham United will fight on for Barclays Premier League survival despite the disappointment of a 2-1 home defeat by Aston Villa.

The Hammers, without Scott Parker because of his achilles tendonitis problem, made the perfect start with Robbie Keane's second-minute goal. However, after referee Mark Halsey waved away penalty appeals when Carlton Cole and last man Richard Dunne collided, the tide turned slowly but surely in the visitors' favour.

An early injury for Manu da Costa was compounded when the team failed to clear when given the opportunity under some fierce Villa pressure on 36 minutes, and Darren Bent was able to head past Robert Green.

An edgy second half was settled by Gabriel Agbonlahor's last-gasp winner, although Grant felt there was a shove on Danny Gabbidon - Da Costa's replacement - in the build-up. By then, the home side were also without Gary O'Neil, who was carried off on a stretcher after a heavy challenge.

Grant, whose team are now two points adrift of safety, said: "We made a very good start. We started like we wanted to. We scored one goal and then I think it was a penalty for us [on Cole] and a red card for them. We made a mistake which cost us and the second half was a game that both teams could win.

"We had chances, they had chances but they scored in the last minute. I think it was a foul on Gabbidon by Agbonlahor. We are very disappointed."

The manager admitted "it was not easy to lose a player like Parker", and said the injuries to Da Costa and O'Neil had also affected his intentions having also had to deal with James Tomkins picking up a knock in training at the end of the week. He had thrown on Demba Ba and Zavon Hines in the second half, but Villa stood firm.

"We have to see [with the injured players]. We don't have any intention to give up. We will fight. I think we need nine points more or less to stay in the league. It will be difficult but it is not impossible."

Having seen his team compete with the likes of a resurgent Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in recent weeks, the manager refused to write off the away matches to come at Chelsea and Manchester City.

"We have won against big teams this season so we can do it. We need to deal with the situation. We had been on a good run since January and we need to get back to that. We need to be strong and we will be strong."