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West Ham’s Hart is in the right place but heroics count for nothing amid stupid errors

PUBLISHED: 11:30 31 October 2017

Joe Hart makes a save against Crystal Palace

Joe Hart makes a save against Crystal Palace

Archant

Hammers keeper visibly shaken after late goal denies West Ham the win

Joe Hart makes a save against Crystal Palace Joe Hart makes a save against Crystal Palace

West Ham keeper Joe Hart was left reeling and distraught after Crystal Palace’s dramatic late equaliser on Saturday and he was refusing to pull any punches.

He had just put in a superb performance to justify his recall to the starting line-up, but after Wilfried Zaha’s injury-time strike, he was absolutely livid.

“I can’t believe we have done that,” said the England number one after the 2-2 draw against rock-bottom Palace.

“We have fought all the way to the end like that and then been so unprofessional.”

England's Joe Hart during a training session at Enfield Training Centre (pic Steve Paston/PA) England's Joe Hart during a training session at Enfield Training Centre (pic Steve Paston/PA)

It didn’t take a mind-reader to work out who he was talking about. Michail Antonio had the ball in the far corner, but instead of clinging on to it, he inexplicably crossed it and within seconds, Palace had mounted one final attack and Zaha had levelled.

“We were all a little bit speechless in the dressing room,” he continued. “Look, no-one does things on purpose in this team, but I think it is two points dropped, it is as simple as that.

Hart was certainly the busiest goalkeeper in that frantic second half, saving from James Tomkins, Zaha and Bakary Sako, while seeing Yohan Cabaye’s shot hit the post.

“I am frustrated because we did close it out to a certain extent, we did, we did and we did, but it was a tough game because I think Zaha and Townsend and Loftus-Cheek and Sako when he came on played really well to give them credit.”

They did, but only after West Ham had gifted them a goal early in the second half when Angelo Ogbonna stupidly brought down Andros Townsend, who was going away from goal.

That got the Palace players and the crowds’ tails up and instead of what should have been a comfortable last 45 minutes, turned into a disaster.

“I thought we played really well, but obviously we have got to keep the ball in the corner. We can’t keep allowing players to run through us and keep getting chances,” he said.

“I am a bit too long in the tooth to think there is not going to be any more attacks,” said the 30-year-old. “That only happens when the ref blows his whistle in my eyes. It can happen and it did happen.

“I hadn’t switched off, it was a good finish by Zaha, but I am bitterly disappointed.”

He looked it. It didn’t happen very often like this at Manchester City, but late goals have cost the team five points in the Premier League this season.

So did it sum up West Ham’s campaign so far?

“Not really,” insisted Hart. “I don’t want to be making any big statements like that.

“In games, we are playing well in periods, we just need to play well for the whole 97 or 98 minutes, however long it is.

“We must take the positives, iron out the negatives and move on.”

There were many fans calling on Adrian to keep his place at Palace, but despite that equaliser, the England man justified his selection and then some.

It is a shame that there were others who did not fair so well as this game was a self-inflicted disaster.

Why Ogbonna made that unnecessary challenge on Townsend will remain a mystery and just what Antonio was thinking in the dying seconds, if anything, makes the mind boggle.

From the reaction of Hart and others, at least they care when things go wrong. Maybe that means it won’t happen again!

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