Nolan praise for O'Brien after Dubliner rescues point for Irons

Mark Bryans

REPUBLIC of Ireland defender Joey O'Brien was the hero for West Ham last night grabbing his first Premier League goal for the club and rescuing a point.

Few would have believed that O'Brien's top-flight resurrection would have been possible a few years back after enduring two years of knee injury nightmares and his captain Kevin Nolan believes there is more to come.

"He had a tough two years out with a bad knee injury," Nolan said.

"The way he has come back in the last two years for us. Last year he was fantastic and this year he has been even better, he is getting stronger and stronger. All the lads have a great camaraderie, we were delighted for him. They are a tough nut to crack."

Joey O'Brien's strike two minutes into the second period cancelled out compatriot Jonathan Walters' first-half strike, but try as they might they could not get that elusive winner which would have seen them go fifth.

"We were unlucky in the end and we had enough chances," Nolan added.

"It is a great result after going 1-0 down and these lads they make it tough for you, they played well tonight.

"I thought we did, we were unlucky, we were a bit gutted because we wanted to get the win to go to fifth."

Hammers boss Sam Allardyce feels Andy Carroll is targeted for extra attention from opposing defenders as he searches for his first goal for the club.

The £35million striker, currently on loan from Liverpool, again failed to find the net as the Hammers were held.

Allardyce believes Carroll's reputation means he will always be highlighted as the main threat by opposing teams.

"He is going to attract attention by the fact he is very good at his hold-up play and (because of) his heading ability, and people are going to need to pay particular attention to him," he said. "He is going to attract one or two defenders around him and that will create spaces elsewhere.

"Andy is not to be frustrated by the fact that he is not scoring at the moment and in fact today he didn't get much of a chance to score.

"But I think sooner or later, if we keep concentrating on him making runs into the box and the service we give, he will eventually score."

Carroll looked visibly irritated when Allardyce replaced him with Carlton Cole late in the second half, but the former Blackburn boss felt his side needed fresh impetus after Carroll had put in a busy shift as the lone forward.

"He wants to score a goal and he wants me to leave him on for 90 minutes but at the end of the day he put that much effort in, there are a lot of fresh players on the bench," he said.