Brooking praises West Ham fightback

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The Independent Football

West Ham's caretaker manager, Trevor Brooking, was delighted with the character shown by his players in fighting back from two goals down to win their Carling Cup tie 3-2 in Cardiff.

Still smarting from their reverse at Gillingham on Saturday, the Hammers found themselves trailing to a Robert Earnshaw double in the opening 25 minutes on Tuesday night. But a Jermain Defoe hat-trick, with the winner coming two minutes from time, ensured that Brooking's team progressed to the next round.

"I think that's probably as satisfying as it gets as a caretaker manager," Brooking said. "To be fair to Cardiff, they started a little bit better and Robert Earnshaw got two terrific goals for them, and we could have wilted but we showed great spirit.

"In the 20 minutes after half-time I didn't think we were going to get that crucial goal but I had this feeling we were going to because we had the momentum," he added. "It's a big pat on the back for Jermain Defoe. He had his criticism and we asked him to respond and he's done that by getting his first senior level hat-trick - hopefully the first of many."

Blackpool's goalkeeper, Lee Jones, had the last laugh on his critics on Tuesday. He had been castigated from the stands for errors that led to both goals in a 2-1 home defeat by Bournemouth in the Second Division, but his manager, Steve McMahon, kept faith with him for the Carling Cup tie against Birmingham and he produced a man-of-the-match performance in a stunning 1-0 defeat of the Premiership side.

The former Stockport goalkeeper said: "I tried not to take the criticism to heart because as a goalkeeper, I know if I make a mistake everyone will spot it and it's almost certain to end in a goal. I had just come to a new club and I had to adapt to a different style of play. These things can take time but it's not nice to be out there on your own when it is going wrong."

Jones made two spectacular first-half saves to deny Clinton Morrison and Stan Lazaridis as Birmingham looked to bounce back from Scott Taylor's early opener., He then stood firm after the interval as Steve Bruce's side piled forward in a desperate bid to stave off an embarrassing defeat.

"I stopped the first one with my feet and it could have gone anywhere after that," said the 33-year-old, who was experiencing victory over a Premiership side for the first time in his career. "The second was a reaction save and you just hope one of your team-mates is there to keep out the rebound. It was definitely the best win of my career."

Paul Jewell is determined to drive Wigan into the Premier League and try to erase the pain of gaining little praise for leading Bradford into the top flight and keeping them there for a second season. He and Wigan underlined their stunning start to the league season with victory over Fulham on Tuesday.

Having won the Second Division last season, they lead the First by two points, yet perhaps Wigan should not have caught too many people unawares. Jewell knows what it takes to reach the Premiership after his experience with Bradford. However, his spell there ended unhappily as he walked out after a disagreement with their then chairman, Geoffrey Richmond. From there he moved on to an ill-fated spell at Sheffield Wednesday.

Jewell, though, would now love nothing more than to emulate his feat at Bradford and so finally dispel all the doubts that have surrounded him over the years.

"I never doubted I couldn't cut the grain again," he said. "There are a lot of misconceptions that I was sacked at Bradford, but that was not the case. I left because the chairman and I didn't see eye to eye.

"I went to Sheffield Wednesday and unfortunately it didn't work out there. There's two managers who have tried it since and it hasn't worked out.

"In getting Bradford into the Premier League and staying in the Premier League, I feel myself and Chris Hutchings [Jewell's assistant then and now] never got enough credit for it. But I can do nothing about that. We can only take care of the here-and-now."