Grant banks on Wigan win

Avram Grant once again was left to rue missed opportunities after a 1-1 home draw with Blackburn Rovers left the club's Barclays Premier League status in the balance.

With two games to play, the Hammers have to make up four points on Wolverhampton Wanderers who recorded a home win against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday lunchtime. Thomas Hitzlsperger salvaged a point on Saturday with a fine strike after Jason Roberts was able to open the scoring with an easy close-range finish on just 12 minutes.

Hitzlsperger's thumping drive with 78 minutes played was the prelude to a barnstorming closing stages that saw Robbie Keane, Demba Ba and Carlton Cole all go so close to a winner. It was what the home fans had expected to see from the off when they arrived for the match, even with Matthew Upson, Gary O'Neil, Mark Noble and Scott Parker all sidelined through injury.

Grant said: "We had a lot of chances. In the whole game we were on top. Maybe this is the story of our season. We created good moments but again we didn't score. It has happened again and again and it has cost us points. At least we drew from one-nil down, it kept us still alive. We are still in business."

The catalyst for the frenetic finish was the introduction of substitutes Keane and Freddie Piquionne, who had a big hand in the equaliser before sliding a superb ball across the area that Keane looked certain to score from in the dying moments - only for the Irishman to fail to make proper contact with the goal gaping.

"Robbie and the other players want to score but they didn't and of course I wish I knew why. It could define our season but I cannot kill him for this and I will not. I must say he gets into these positions because he has intelligent movement and we needed this more in the first half of the season.

"At the end of the day all that counts is getting the ball in the net and there is no one more frustrated than me because most of the games this season have been like this. From the football side and in terms of effort, I cannot say anything against the players today. They gave a lot of effort. The other team scored from one chance but this is what football is about."

Grant was hopeful Upson and Parker could be back next week, while Noble may even have a chance after making good progress from his hernia operation. Jack Collison was also a welcome returnee after 13 months out and was the third lively replacement of the afternoon. It was Parker, though, that was the name on most people's lips.

"When we had a good run we played with a midfield that was Thomas, Scotty, Mark Noble and Gary O'Neil. Three of the four are not playing now, especially Scott as we know what his contribution is to the team. I think the other players who have come in have done well but of course it is better to play with Scott. There is no one who wants him to play more than me but if he cannot he cannot."

Whoever lines up against Wigan next Sunday, Grant is certain the team can and will deliver in front of more than 4,500 travelling supporters. "We have to win against Wigan and I think we can do it. We would then be above them. It is the most important game but we always say this. We need to win but they will want to win and they are at home. We have to come out on top."

The manager admitted it was a "gamble" to play Collison but added he was delighted with what he saw from his No10. "He did a good job, with lots of enthusiasm. He is a very god player and it is not easy to play after more than a year out."

Grant stressed that he accepted responsibility for the team's situation and remained steadfast that there was still time to write a positive ending to the season - even if it required help from others. "Everyone in the club wants West Ham to succeed. This was our target [from the beginning]. We thought things would be different but this is the situation.

"We can win the last two games. We are playing good football and creating chances but we have to get the ball in the net. That is what counts at the end of the day. I hope we play like we have been and just take 50 per cent of our chances against Wigan.

"I know the supporters look at the table and see we are not in an easy situation but they will know it can look different if we win against Wigan. I believe we can do it."