West Ham win not turning point says Grant

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The Independent Online

Avram Grant insists West Ham's Carling Cup victory over Stoke was not the turning point of their season - because that had already been reached.

The Hammers scored a late equaliser in last night's fourth-round tie at Upton Park before going on to win 3-1 in extra-time, giving themselves a shot in the arm for their miserable Barclays Premier League campaign.

But manager Grant believes his side were already getting their season back on track, with Saturday's defeat to Newcastle the only black mark from an otherwise encouraging last six weeks.

"The turning point was a few weeks ago," said Grant, who was coming under mounting pressure with West Ham rooted to the foot of the Premier League.

"Even Saturday, we started the game like a top, top team, and then someone pushed the (self-destruct) button."

It was West Ham's third-round win at Sunderland last month which arguably hinted at a change of fortune.

An FA Cup run while Grant was at Portsmouth last season helped galvanise his squad when the club was deducted nine points for going into administration.

And the Israeli believes reaching the latter stages of the League Cup can have a similar effect at West Ham.

"I think yes," he said.

"Last year with Portsmouth, I'm sure that if we'd not had the problems, we'd easily have stayed in the league.

"I believe in this team, I believe in this squad.

"Of course, we cannot solve all the problems in one day but, step by step, I think we are going forward."

The Hammers were trailing 1-0 to Kenwyne Jones' early goal until the 84th minute last night.

Grant's substitutions turned the game, with Victor Obinna, Mark Noble and Valon Behrami all making a huge impact.

Captain Scott Parker got the equaliser but Noble set up the second and third goals, the last of which was scored by Obinna.

"When substitutes succeed, I am happy," said Grant, who hailed Noble's mazy run which set up the second goal as "like Maradona".

Stoke began to struggle once they brought off Jones and Jermaine Pennant, who set up their opening goal.

Manager Tony Pulis said: "The two substitutions with Kenwyne and Jermaine, who were under the weather a little bit, didn't help us," Pulis said.

"I thought Kenwyne was very good when he was on the pitch; he was a threat.

"But fair play to West Ham; you've got to give them credit.

"Obinna came on, young Noble, and they changed the game, really."

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