Big Sam encouraged by comeback

Sam Allardyce had mixed emotions after a superb second-half West Ham United comeback earned a 3-3 draw with Birmingham City on Easter Monday.

Some casual defending had allowed the Blues to race into a 3-1 half-time lead after two quick fire goals from Jordan Mutch and Marlon King around the half hour mark. Ricardo Vaz Te pulled one back for the home side but Chris Burke restored the two-goal lead before the break.

The second half was a different story though as the Hammers were dominant from start to finish. Goals from Carlton Cole and a Vaz Te penalty set up a frantic finish that saw Henri Lansbury pass up a glorious chance to snatch the win in the dying minutes.

"What a comeback in the second half - we showed fantastic quality and spirit," Big Sam said. "We got the crowd right behind us and we had them on the edge of their seats and they continued to drive us on, continued to cheer for us and the atmosphere was fantastic.

"Eventually Cole scored and Vaz Te got the penalty so we gave ourselves a chance of winning the game. Then in the final minute we had a chance with Lansbury to win it; it's just a shame it was on his wrong foot and he took the chance too quickly."

The draw - in front of fantastic home support once more - moves the Hammers to within three points of second-placed Reading, who play Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday. The Royals then play Southampton on Friday in a decisive fixture that could determine who ends the season as Champions, while the Hammers host Brighton on Saturday.

"We were supported hugely by the crowd who willed us on to get that all important win. Now we've got to give the crowd enough on Saturday to cheer us on to the win like we tried to do in the second half today.

"Unfortunately we didn't get the three points and even though it was a very good comeback by us it is still two points dropped at home. Now we have to think of four wins and twelve points and hope that either Southampton or Reading slip up enough for us to get in there."

Despite the fantastic efforts in the second half, it was a first-half performance the Hammers will want to forget and Big Sam was frustrated at his team's lack of discipline at the back.

"I have to give the lads credit for an outstanding performance but in the end it was too late after the first-half professional suicide we committed. In the first half we played some ridiculous football that allowed Birmingham to go straight through us because we were playing silly passes in our defensive third.

"That was something we spoke about not doing but we continued to do so and that's why we found ourselves 2-0 down. Birmingham had two chances that they finished very well but we gave them those opportunities.

"But then we showed courage by getting the goal just before half time and all we had to do was keep it like that until half time. Unfortunately we couldn't do that, their lad on the edge of the box is all on his own which is unacceptable."

There was some concern before half-time when George McCartney was stretchered off with a head injury, to be replaced by Danny Collins. Thankfully the on-loan full-back does not appear too badly hurt but it is too early to say if he will be fit for the visit of Brighton.

"It was an accidental clash of heads between two committed players going for the ball and he got a nasty cut on his head and is suffering from mild concussion.

"I thought Danny Collins came on and did fantastic on the left hand side. We will wait until Tuesday to see how bad McCartney's concussion is."