Kevin’s Keen after Hammers first point of the season

WEST HAM first team coach Kevin Keen believes Saturday’s draw at Stoke is the perfect fillip to kick start the Hammers’ season.

Prior to the visit to the Britannia, West Ham had lost their four opening matches in the Premier League, leaving them bottom of the table.

During this wretched run they shipped 12 goals, but at the weekend they defended with defiance as they battled to a hard- fought point against Tony Pulis’ men.

Keen, Zeljko Petrovic and Paul Groves occupied the Hammers’ technical area on Saturday, with manager Avram Grant missing the match to begin his observation of the Jewish festival Yom Kippur.

Keen said he thought Grant would be “pleased” with the 1-1 draw, which registered the team’s first point of the season.

“Getting a point here I think is the start of the season for us and we can build on this,” said Keen, (pictured above).

“We’re very pleased and I think Avram will be pleased. We organised as normal, Avram has very much been involved throughout the week with a game plan to come here to Stoke and we’ve got to be pleased with a point.

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“I thought we subdued the atmosphere and played very well in the first half.”

Instead of sitting back and defending, West Ham set out to attack the Potters, with a three-man strike force of Carlton Cole, Victor Obinna and Frederic Piquionne.

And Keen echoed the thoughts of his coaching partner Groves, by lamenting the team’s inability to close out the game.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed losing the lead, but when they scored at the start of the second half we defended really well and managed to create a couple of chances of our own,” he said.

“We had Manuel Da Costa’s header and Scotty Parker’s volley – we had a few good opportunities to perhaps win the game, but we’re not going to complain.

“We wanted to keep the ball and try and play attacking football as is West Ham tradition, and especially in the first half it worked well and we were a little unlucky with Freddy (Piquionne) hitting the bar and few other chances we created.

“We understand they hit the woodwork and things like that, so we’re pleased to get a point.”

Keen hailed the performance of the back four, reserving special praise for Portuguese defender Manuel Da Costa, who partnered Matthew Upson in the centre of defence, for his first appearance this season.

“We were a little bit on the back foot in the second half, but I thought the back four coped really well with some of the throw-ins and corners,” said the first team coach.

“He (Da Costa) did really well – he’s a fantastic athlete. He’s a wonderful athlete and we thought the match-up of him and Kenwyne Jones was a good one.

“To be fair to the lad he’s been waiting for this chance and today he’s done exceptionally well.”

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