James Collins admitted to feeling hugely contrasting emotions after West Ham United’s 3-3 Boxing Day Premier League draw at AFC Bournemouth.
The Ginger Pele marked his recall to the starting XI by being handed the captain’s armband and scoring his side’s opening goal, only for a highly controversial late Callum Wilson leveller to deny the Hammers all three points.
“I was pleased to be back in, but I wasn’t too happy with the way we defended in general,” said Collins. “Conceding three goals again is not great, but the lads showed great character.
“It was wet and windy and hammering down with rain. To get back into the lead and then lose it so late on is gutting, but it was nice to be back in the team.
“You’ve got to take some positives. A point is a point on the road and every away game in the Premier League is tough, so we’ll take it, even if we are very disappointed to take the lead with no time left on the clock and not keep it.”
It’s got to be disallowed. I was looking straight at it. Even if he’s not offside, it’s handball
West Ham went in front through Collins’ powerful seventh-minute header before surrendering their lead to goals from Dan Gosling and Nathan Ake either side of half-time.
Adrian then made a succession of fine saves to keep the Hammers in the game before Marko Arnautovic’s double looked set to give David Moyes’ team a vital victory.
Then, a minute into added time, Ake headed goalwards and Wilson appeared to convert with his upper right arm from an offside position. Referee Bobby Madley conversed at length with his assistant, who had initially raised his flag, before giving the goal.
“It’s got to be disallowed. I was looking straight at it. Even if he’s not offside, it’s handball. I’m disappointed because we got back into the game and got in front and then, what do you say, it’s a kick in the teeth because it would have been a massive three points for us.
“He’s given a free-kick originally for offside and for some reason he has changed his mind.”
All in all, while frustrated to lose two points so late on in such disputable circumstances, Collins said a share of the spoils was probably a fair reflection of what was a breathless game.
“We knew we were going to be under the cosh a bit and block and save shots and Adrian has played well and made some great saves there.
“Arnie has done great. Since he got his first goal, we’ve seen a real difference in him. He’s been tremendous and hopefully we can defend better and he can get another couple of goals in a win.
“It was a mad game of football. We’ve created chances and they’ve created chances and I suppose, with the way we played in the first half, we should probably take the point.”
Collins and West Ham return to action at London Stadium on Tuesday 2 January 2018 at 7.45pm, when West Bromwich Albion will be the visitors.