Big Sam frustrated by Villa stalemate

West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce admitted to feeling a sense of frustration after watching his side draw 0-0 with Aston Villa at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday.

While a second clean sheet of the campaign meant the Hammers extended their unbeaten run to a sixth game, he felt the home side had done more than enough to turn one point into three.

That they did not was down to a mixture of wasteful finishing and the fine form of Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who made outstanding saves from Stewart Downing in the first half and from Andy Carroll at the death.

Still, the point gained took West Ham back into the Barclays Premier League's top four and Allardyce could reflect on a good performance from his team, even if it did not yield maximum reward.

"It was frustrating," he admitted. "We've not seen that super-clinical finishing side of our game today. I think that left us hugely frustrated and when we did get a proper finish on target the goalkeeper was on top form.

"There's nothing more we could have done today to try and win a game of football but ultimately the clinical finishing has deserted us. It's our second clean sheet of the season so we only needed the one goal, but we just couldn't find it.

"I felt today that if we'd found one, we'd have found many on the back of Aston Villa losing six or seven on the trot. I think their heads would have gone down and we'd have opened them up even more.

"It was a terrific effort. We opened them up in the first half but couldn't find a goal. We had a lull in the second half but changed the way we played, and putting Stewart Downing in a wider position - where we haven't seen him much this year - turned the game in our favour, by putting quality ball into the box and [forcing] all those chances towards the end.

"We kept going right to the end, but I felt a 1-0 would have been a fair result for us and would have given everybody a massive lift to reach 20 points from eleven games. While we respect the point and the lads have done a good job on Aston Villa's counter attacking, I thought we'd be more frustrated by Villa today than we were.

"But we weren't because we were so good. They had nine or ten behind the ball for nearly all the game, but some poor finishing from us and not a lot of help from the referee when we needed it {kept us out]."

One huge positive was the return of Andy Carroll following a lengthy absence with an ankle injury. He came off the bench in the closing stages and went so close to forcing a winner when he drew a fine save from Guzan.

The manager added: "I wanted to bring Winston Reid off because he was feeling his thigh a bit, but at that point I just felt he had to stay on for us to go and get the winner. I wanted to put Andy on rather than change Reidy for James Tomkins, so I hope Winston's alright.

"We changed the shape and the shape changed the way we were playing. The way we were playing got better and the oohs and aahs that went around the ground in the last five to ten minutes were unbelievable.

"People were jumping around with what looked like was going to be the ultimate excitement with scoring a goal."

With a two week break before the next fixture away at Everton, Allardyce says the Hammers will take stock after a hugely encouraging start to the campaign, with the strength in depth of his squad plain to see.

"I think it's been a very good first phase of the season," he explained. "We're on a undefeated run of five games, we've got a fantastic team in terms of not just the eleven we pick, but the eleven or 12 behind it.

"That's proven today by Carlton Cole, Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan coming on and making a big effort to go and win the game. When Enner and Mark Noble had run their legs off, these lads come on fresh and with the quality they've got you can see what happened in the last ten or 15 minutes.

"We need that squad going into the back end of November and December - over Christmas we'll have something like four games in eight days, and that has been a test for us in my entire time at the Club.

"We have to get through this test with this squad and continue to get results in that period. Steering clear of injuries is the big question - we can cope with injuries at this time of the year because of the international breaks, but we can't cope with too many injuries when you go into November, December and January.

"The squad's getting bigger and fitter, so long may that last."