Cole's Wembley goal

Carlton Cole has hailed the spirit of his West Ham United team-mates in scoring a 2-1 Carling Cup semi-final first-leg victory over Birmingham City on Tuesday.

The Hammers took the lead through Mark Noble's early goal, only to be pegged back by Liam Ridgewell's 56th-minute equaliser and lose Victor Obinna to a sending-off just moments later.

Despite spending much of the second half defending their own territory, West Ham mustered the energy to break clear and score a late winner through Cole's 78th-minute strike.

The goal was a mixture of fine play and good fortune, with Scott Parker, Jonathan Spector and Cole combining superbly. The No9's shot should have been saved by Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster, only for the England stopper to allow the effort to slide under his leg and into the net.

Regardless of the circumstances of his sixth goal of the season, Cole was delighted to give West Ham a slender advantage ahead of the second leg at St Andrew's on Wednesday 26 January. The striker also believes the club's fourth victory in seven matches can serve as a catalyst to get them off the bottom of the Barclays Premier League.

"I'm chuffed to have scored the winning goal. I hope we can go over to their place and capitalise on this win because it would be good for the fans and good for us mentally to help us get out of the trouble we're in in the league.

"Winning in the cup is a habit that we need to take to the Premier League now to help us get up the table and out of the position that we're in.

"We showed great spirit tonight and worked hard with ten men and we got our reward. We need to show that same spirit in all our matches between now and the end of the season and we'll have a great chance to reach the final of the Carling Cup and also get ourselves up the league table."

Cole's goal has given West Ham at least an even-money shot of reaching their first Wembley final since the League Cup showpiece in 1981.

The forward, who is now in his sixth season with the club, has turned out for England at the Home of Football previously, but would love nothing more than to walk out at Wembley in a West Ham shirt.

"I played at Wembley a couple of times for England and I managed to get injured once and I haven't scored there yet. Hopefully I can get back there with my club and represent us in an honourable fashion in the final."