Big Sam on Palace point

Sam Allardyce paid tribute to the resilience of his team away at Crystal Palace but was rueful about two pieces of "shocking defending" that denied valid hopes of a victory.

The Hammers twice had to come from behind for a 2-2 draw after lapses at the back allowed Palace to score through Darren Ambrose and Glenn Murray. The visitors were always the better side and played the best football in stifling temperatures that belied the October date.

Kevin Nolan had levelled in the first half following the best move of the game before a late headed equaliser from substitute John Carew earned an away point. Carew could even have won it at the death with a flicked header that just went wide.

On a scorching day in south London, West Ham had arrived unbeaten on their travels but Palace were on a high themselves after a 3-1 midweek win at Brighton and Hove Albion. If Big Sam knew they would be in for a tricky test, he did not legislate for his team allowing two goals in the manner they did, both of which left debutant Manuel Almunia with no chance.

He said: "It was shocking defending today on two occasions, which stopped us winning the game. Just two sloppy pieces of defending has gifted the opposition two goals and made life very difficult for us on what was a very accomplished performance other than that."

Although dismayed at those mistakes, the manager was pleased with the way the team coped with being without Rob Green (knee), Joey O'Brien (hamstring), Winston Reid (hamstring), Matt Taylor (calf) and Mark Noble (toe).

"What pleases me is we had to make a lot of changes via injury and play players who were stepping in for the first time and for them to produce a performance like that is really encouraging for me. These lads can only get better here on in.

"We have 18 points from the first phase, the first ten matches. It is two points behind what we wanted but I expect we will make that up if we continue to grow as we showed today.

"The full squad is coming into play. It produced a great performance if not the right result. It gives us all confidence to go on and perhaps achieve 20, 22 or more points from the next ten games."

The Hammers had several other good opportunities aside from that late chance for a Carew winner, with Nolan particularly profligate after doing the hard part well to find space in the area. It all bodes well for the coming matches, according to Allardyce, even if frustration was the over-riding emotion as he departed Selhurst Park.

"I was pleased with the amount of chances we created and we would like to take those performances into Upton Park. The unfortunate thing for us was that we've never looked like conceding two goals away from home this season and certainly not the way we gave them away today.

"The spirit of the team and the quality of the team made sure we didn't lose it in the end which was very important.

"It is a disappointing week in only taking four points out of three games but overall we are sitting pretty comfortably to move forward. Now having tested the squad, I am getting more and more confident that people can drop out and others can come in and deliver a performance as good as the lads they've replaced."

On Almunia, Allardyce said the Spaniard coped well with being thrown in after just one training session with his new team-mates following his loan from Arsenal on Friday. Green will be out for six weeks having undergone a knee op.

"Manny is going to go home bemused because he hasn't had a save to make and has had to pick the ball out of the net twice. I don't think he could have stopped either goal because it was such bad defending. Other than that I can't remember him having to make a save.

"His distribution looks good, he is confident and happy to be joining us, even if it is a big step down for him from Arsenal and the Champions League. We are pleased to have him."

The final word was reserved for Papa Bouba Diop, with the manager full of superlatives for his first appearance in the claret and blue. "Wow," he said. "I was expecting I would have to give him oxygen after 60 minutes in today's heat but he was masterful in front of the back four and setting us off on more and more attacks. As the game went on, I was really pleased."