Big Sam rues 'bizarre' second half

Sam Allardyce cut a frustrated figure after watching his West Ham United side lose 2-1 to Everton in their final home Barclays Premier League fixture of 2012.

The Hammers looked set to end the year at the Boleyn Ground on a high when Carlton Cole's superb finish sent them in a goal to the good at half-time. However, Victor Anichebe's equaliser was quickly followed by the controversial sending-off of Cole and a fortuitous winning goal scored by Steven Pienaar.

There was still time for Kevin Nolan to miss a late opportunity to equalise and for Everton's Darron Gibson to see red for catching Mark Noble, leading Big Sam to label the second half 'bizarre' and lament what might have been. The manager also confirmed that he intends to appeal against Cole's dismissal.

"We could say it is our fault that we lost the game because of the one Kevin missed at the end, unfortunately, because that would have been a massive bonus for us. We fought and battled to the end, with ten men, so to get a golden chance like that and have it fall to our leading goalscorer, I thought 'Go on Kev make it a pleasant day for us in the end' but unfortunately the shot just went wide of the post instead of going into the net.

"It would have been too late for Everton to have come back [and score a winner] even with eleven men against ten. Then we had the referee sending one of their players off after he had sent Carlton Cole off, so it ended up being a bizarre second half after what was a fantastic first half. We scored a goal and defended as well as we did, but in the end it has all gone pear-shaped.

"We could look at ourselves and say it's all our fault, and that's fair enough, but unfortunately the majority of it isn't because at one-one the referee sent Carlton Cole off. We were all aghast and the whole stadium was shocked by the fact that it was a red card.

"We're all shocked because of the incident after 32 minutes when Anichebe has done almost exactly the same thing Carlton has done on James Collins and nothing has happened. When you see that sort of thing happening in the same game by the referee, it's very disappointing indeed.

"We have to take it on the chin and move on because there is nothing we can do about the result. The most disappointing thing is that if our appeal doesn't work then we will miss Carlton for the Reading match and he's playing very, very well at the minute and he scored a fantastic goal."

Concentrating on the football, Big Sam praised his players for their work-rate and effort against a very good Everton side. With just 16 fit senior players - two of whom have recently returned to training after long periods out injured in Jack Collison and Alou Diarra - available, the manager said it was always going to be a challenge to halt the Toffees.

"Kevin could have got us a point with that chance at the end and that would have ended it as being a good day for us under the circumstances. Even Modibo Maiga could have scored just after he came on when Carlton Cole passed him the ball but unfortunately the deflection went wide of the post - and even then the referee gave a goal kick and not a corner.

"It was a strange second half and if you look at how their second goal was stumbled and bumbled in rather than created by the opposition was again disappointing. I can't blame the lads because they are giving their all.

"Gary O'Neil had to play even though he was not 100 per cent. He came off in training on Friday but then we lost Guy Demel with the vomiting virus on Saturday so he had to go out on the field. He couldn't hold out so we had to change him and we didn't have any other option but to go 4-4-2 and, in the end, that wasn't the main cause of why we lost.

"People should not forget that, even though they were on the bench, they [Collison and Diarra] are not fit to play football. They are not there because they are fit enough to play in our first team - they are there because of the desperate measures we have to resort to. Jack has not kicked a ball apart from 45 minutes in a Development Squad game last week and Alou DIarra has not played a competitive game since injuring his thigh three months ago.

"These players are not able or ready to start in our first team, so we have to get them fit as quick as we can, as well as all the others because if we continue with the injury list we have, we will pay a heavy price. We paid a heavy price on Saturday because, had we had a full squad, we might not have got 2-0 up or maybe taken advantage of having a full squad.

"I give the lad full credit for their efforts but we need variation and options. Without those it becomes difficult, but it was a brilliant effort by the players."