Carlton cheered by half-century

Carlton Cole has plenty of targets of 2012 but none as significant as getting West Ham United back to the Barclays Premier League.

The club's second-longest serving player notched his eighth goal of the season in the 1-1 draw at Birmingham City on Boxing Day. It moved him on to 50 in the claret and blue, a stat that surprised but delighted him when he learned about it in the tunnel at St Andrews.

"I'm honoured to have done that," was his simple reaction. Cole knows though that he has to keep on scoring if the promotion aim is to be realised. Goals win matches and he is the attacking talisman this season - as demonstrated by the volume with which the fans are singing the adapted Spandau Ballet song 'Gold' in his honour.

On a personal level, eight more goals would move him ahead of Marlon Harewood, the last Hammer to get to the half-century mark who ultimately managed 57. Even better, were Cole to get ten goals in the second half of the season, he would move into the top 20 list for all-time West Ham United scorers.

In truth, Cole did not feel much like celebrating after the Birmingham point, feeling he should have had a second but for Boaz Myhill's tremendous save just before half-time. He had opened the scoring with an opportunist strike in the fourth minute after robbing Pablo Ibanez and firing in an unstoppable drive in front of the away support.

"From a personal point of view, it was a nice goal but the performance wasn't great and we got what we deserved, we got punished," he said. "We should have scored more, we had more chances than them and should have put more away and secured the game but we didn't so and all the players were disappointed with the all-round performance."

Cole has been speaking of late of 'respecting the point', the manager's mantra when the three points are proving hard to come by. As such, he acknowledged it was not too disheartening to finish honours even.

"You have to look at it again and we have gone away from home and grinded a point out. That's the main thing, we didn't lose. It reminded me of the cup game we came up here last year in the Carling Cup. We should have secured that game and we didn't.

"It was the same again and we should have got the win and we didn't. We were very disappointed but that's the way the game has gone. At least we didn't lose that's the main thing."

So to Derby, and Cole looks likely to lead the line again at Pride Park. "We have to look at the positives. Although it wasn't a good performance, Birmingham have only conceded four goals all season at home so to get the fifth was good. We just need to do more at the right times to kill off games.

"If we can get a result at Derby we will be right in the thick of things. We are up there and we just need to keep plugging away and getting the results away from home.

"I feel good. We will get on the training field this week and be prepared for Derby. We have got the players and we know we can score goals at any time. We need to do more. That's the main thing. We know how to defend but we need to do the basics better.

"Everyone that is involved right through the squad has a part to play. The manager has to chop and change now because his hands are forced. We need to all come together as a team and the experienced lads have to help the young lads coming through.

"That's the way forward. Everyone needs to pull in the same direction and help the team through troubled times with suspensions and injuries. We need to grind out the results."

Cole may be looking for goal No51 but the main thing is the end result that usually follows one of his strikes - as it did when he scored the first in the 3-1 Hammers' home win against the Rams back on 26 November.

"It will be nice to start the new year rolling with a win. We'd like to do the double over Derby and hopefully it will mean more goals for me. That would be brilliant."

Coventry City