Manager disappointed for fans

Avram Grant vowed to use the "huge disappointment" felt after the Carling Cup exit at Birmingham City to get the job done in the Barclays Premier League.

"We will continue fighting," said the manager, before paying tribute to the "magnificent" support that once more greeted his team at St Andrew's. A 3-1 defeat on the night - after Carlton Cole had put the Hammers in front with a stunning strike - meant a 4-3 reverse on aggregate. Grant said his team would have to show their strength to put it behind them for the challenges ahead.

"The response after our last games when we didn't get the result we wanted was good, although I don't think that it was a case of us not playing well against Birmingham. There could be a good reaction to this result. The players are confident in themselves that we can do it. We will not give up, we'll keep fighting."

It was another strong start from the Hammers, with Cole's long-range goal nearly followed by a second from Zavon Hines, only for his hooked effort to crash against the post. Birmingham roared back into it after the interval and levelled through Lee Bowyer before Roger Johnson levelled the tie. It was left to Craig Gardner to settle the tie in extra time.

"We played very well in the first half," said Grant, as he was asked to reflect on a see-saw contest. "We scored the first goal and we were dominating and controlling the game. We could have scored again but we hit the post.

"We didn't deal with Birmingham very well in the second half, they scored from two corners and that's very disappointing. It is a huge disappointment for everyone, especially the players who did so much to get this far and the supporters who were behind us all the way.

"We've done well in the Carling Cup. Until now, we've won a lot of games and in the first half tonight we played good football and did well but, unfortunately, we're not at Wembley."

The manager also refused to look for excuses despite having Frederic Piquionne harshly banned - joining the already suspended Victor Obinna - and referee Howard Webb appearing to miss a kick-out by Barry Ferguson at substitute Kieron Dyer that could have led to a red card before the end of normal time.

As it was, Dyer could have saved the day with a late effort that just cleared the bar. It was too little, too late and, in truth, Robert Green needed to be at his best at the other end to stop the home side adding to their tally.

"I don't think that this will affect our confidence in the Premier League. We were winning 1-0 and we were not playing like a team at the bottom of the table. We need to defend better at set-pieces but I feel a lot of confidence after the game at Everton on Saturday and the game here at Birmingham.

"I'm sure with our attitude and football, everything will be good for the team."