Grant makes point at Everton

Avram Grant was incredulous at seeing Frederic Piquionne sent-off late on at Everton for celebrating a goal which so nearly gave the Hammers three precious points.

The French striker headed in superbly with just six minutes to play and immediately ran to the travelling band of supporters away to his left. However, referee Peter Walton took exception to his celebrations and showed him a second yellow card, followed swiftly by one of the red variety. It means Piquionne will miss Wednesday's Carling Cup semi-final second leg at Birmingham City.

More impactful, though, was that Piquionne's departure left Grant down to ten men for the closing stages at Goodison Park - and the Toffees promptly scored a second equaliser through Marouane Fellaini in added time to ensure a 2-2 draw. Jonathan Spector's first league goal had given the Hammers a half-time lead before Diniyar Bilyaletdinov pegged them back after the interval.

"For me, Frederic Piquionne's red card was a joke," said Grant. "He scored a goal and wanted to celebrate with the supporters. Who, more than the supporters, deserves to celebrate a goal with the player who has just scored it?

"Our fans came all the way here to the game, they were behind us throughout the match and they wanted to celebrate with us. He should run to them, not to me.

"What do we do, tell the players to shake hands calmly and say: 'Thank you?' Football's an emotional game. When I score a goal in our Thursday staff match, I celebrate and now I just hope they won't start giving me a red card, too!"

The manager's appreciation of the supporters was underlined by his apology post-match for not acknowledging their appeals for him to give them a wave. He cited his concentration during a tricky contest. It was always going to be a difficult day with Carlton Cole missing out because of a knee knock but the Hammers were impressive from the off - thanks in large part to midfielders Spector, Scott Parker, Mark Noble and Luis Boa Morte.

"You never know but if we'd stuck with eleven players then I'm sure that we'd have won because we're the better team. We created some great chances but when we were down to ten men they started to play more direct.

"It could have been a great day and I'm very proud of what I saw from the players because it was not easy for them in this situation. From the very start of the season, though, the players have shown a lot of commitment.

"Every week we've had problems with injuries and right up until the Friday before each game, we have not known what team to pick or where the players are expecting to play.

"Today, for example, Jonathan Spector had to come in on the right and he did very well, while Zavon Hines is a young player who has had to play too many games for us in a short space of time.

"We showed lots of spirit and tactical awareness and dominated the first half. We created a lot of chances - we scored, hit the post and got the ball in the net again but it was offside.

"Also, our response when Everton came back to 1-1 was very good and after they scored we then got a second goal.

So to Wednesday and the manager hoped his team would be able to finish the job at Birmingham City and win through to the Carling Cup final. They will be defending a 2-1 lead - and hope that James Tomkins matches his superb Goodison form - but it is in attack that the manager will have to work hardest.

"Now like Victor Obinna, Frederic Piquionne is suspended for the semi-final at Birmingham City, while Carlton Cole is injured. I don't know if he'll be available because he's only got four days to get fit. At the moment, I'm down to Freddie Sears, Zavon Hines and Frank Nouble."