Big Sam on Southampton stalemate

Sam Allardyce made a strong case for the defence following West Ham United's goalless Barclays Premier League draw at Southampton.

The Hammers battled driving rain, strong winds and a full-strength Saints attack to secure a hard-fought point at St Mary's, and could even have nicked all three had James Collins not blazed a late gilt-edged chance over the crossbar.

At the other end, Jussi Jaaskelainen produced a Man of the Match display, making at least four fine saves from Adam Lallana, Dani Osvaldo, Morgan Schneiderlin and Rickie Lambert to keep his goal intact, while England forward Rickie Lambert saw a powerful header come back off the post.

Speaking to West Ham TV, Big Sam gave a typically honest assessment of a 90 minutes high on drama and talking points, none more so than a controversial Schneiderlin challenge on Mohamed Diame that went unpunished by referee Andre Marriner.

"We were actually better at Newcastle United, where Jussi didn't have one save to make and they didn't have one shot on target," the manager began. "At Southampton, Jussi made some outstanding saves when needed and contributed to getting this point for us.

"Again, the defensive side - not just the back four and goalkeeper but the team as a defensive unit - made it extremely difficult for Southampton, even when they were dropping those diagonal balls onto Lambert, which was a big danger for us.

"Southampton were playing out from the back and we let them do that before trying to win the ball back high up the pitch, to try to stop them getting those balls into Lambert, which worked really well.

"The unfortunate thing was we didn't capitalise on any of our good positions or good opportunities in their final third, particularly poor old Ginge who missed that golden chance for us which would have secured us three points.

"It's a great point and, under the circumstances with the players we have injured, it's an even better point for me because we did have Joe Cole, Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll, Alou Diarra and George McCartney missing from our team, all of whom will play big parts in it.

"The squad stepped up to the plate against a strong Southampton team which had its full squad available. I think that was their best eleven players and we matched them very well."

Big Sam pointed to Schneiderlin's tackle on Diame, which saw the Frenchman catch the Senegal captain late on the ankle, as a potentially important moment in the game.

Instead of awarding a free-kick and possibly taking further action against the Saints No4, referee Marriner allowed play to go on.

"It was two-footed and was a straight red card all day long. The disappointing thing was that it wasn't even a free-kick for us.

"I spoke to Andre about it and I think players play the game of football and make mistakes and, unfortunately, I think he made a mistake regarding that challenge.

"At the end of the day, it hasn't cost us anything and we came away with a point."

West Ham have conceded just once in four Barclays Premier League matches played so far - Jermaine Pennant's late free-kick winner for Stoke City - and the manager was naturally pleased with that aspect of his team's play.

However, it is at the other end where Big Sam is demanding an improvement.

"We have definitely got to start scoring more, there's no doubt about that.

"What I am saying is that when Joe, Stewart and Andy are fit they, as long as the rest of the lads like Maiga, Vaz Te, Jarvis and Ravel Morrison, who got a little bit more experience, and Kevin Nolan [will do so] from set plays and phases of open play.

"What I am really pleased about is that we picked up a point and bounced back from a disappointing result against Stoke City."

West Ham return to action on Saturday, when Everton will visit the Boleyn Ground having scored a morale-boosting home victory over Chelsea last time out.

Having signed the likes of England midfielder Gareth Barry, Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku and Republic of Ireland midfielder James McCarthy in the summer, new Toffees manager Roberto Martinez has a strong squad at his disposal, presenting a stern test for Big Sam's men.

"I think Roberto and their Chairman have made Everton much better. Gareth Barry, McCarthy and Lukaku make them a bigger force to be reckoned with than they were last season, so it will be a really tough game.

"I know they have lost Marouane Fellaini but the sort of players they have got into replace him, like Lukaku and Arouna Kone, mean it will be a tough game.

"I watched them against Chelsea and they were absolutely terrific. We'll look forward to it and hopefully try to get the result we didn't get last year against them, when we went ahead, went down to ten men against them and eventually lost 2-1."