Noble lauds West Ham back-line

Hammers hero Mark Noble was quick to praise the part the defence played in Tuesday night’s Carling Cup victory.

WEST HAM goalscorer Mark Noble may have been one of the stars of the show against Birmingham City on Tuesday night, but he was keen to heap praise on the defence following the 2-1 victory.

Noble struck his third goal of the season with a vicious strike that beat Ben Foster at his near post, but it was the battling qualities of the team after Victor Obinna had been sent off that impressed the midfielder.

“Playing against Premier League teams with 11 men is hard enough, but playing with 10 is something else,” said the 23-year-old after he had played an integral part in their first-leg victory at Upton Park.

“I thought we defended unbelievably. Winston, Julien, Matty and ‘Tonks’ were brilliant.

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“Spector was great today and it goes throughout the team for me. Freddie Piquionne worked hard up front, young Freddie Sears on the left had a knock on his back, but ran his guts out.

“That’s what you need if you want to go and play at Wembley.”

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The sending off of Obinna, coming just two minutes after Birmingham had levelled the match, was certainly an important moment in the game, and Noble felt the referee must have got it right.

“He will learn from that,” he said. “I haven’t seen it myself personally so I can’t judge it, but the referee said he kicked out and he saw it. Phil Dowd is an honest man and wouldn’t have sent him off if he didn’t.

“I just thought of all the hard work I would have to do in the last half hour and the extra running! It just seemed like they had 50 midfield players at one time. But credit to the boys, we grinded it out and ‘Coley’ spawned one in for us - it was lovely.”

Tuesday’s win means they have managed two cup victories in a row, and Noble believes that will give them an added spark in their battle against the drop.

“Obviously winning games gives you confidence,” he insisted. “You score goals, you win games and you get confident.

“We had the FA Cup on Saturday and now this, but we need to keep pushing on. We have two hard league games and we must do as best we can in them and hopefully go to Birmingham for the return leg and put in another good performance.

“We didn’t play as well in the second half of this game, but we won it. We scored a winning goal in the second half and I don’t think we were too worried about the performance at that point.

“It was about winning the game and that’s what we’ve done.”

West Ham have a narrow lead, but Noble knows that it merely sets it up for a classic game at St Andrews in two weeks time.

“I suppose it is poised for a great game up there,” he said. “St Andrews is a tough place to go and play. We went there earlier in the season and played well, but they nicked a 2-2 draw when we were in command.

“Cup games are different. We know how they can play from the second half in this game, but we just need to keep players fresh, rest as much as we can and hopefully have a trip to Wembley.”

Noble was only three the last time that West Ham were in the League Cup semi-final, so for the Canning Town-born Hammers fan, a trip to Wembley would be a dream come true.

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