Big Sam doubts top-two spot

Hughton pleased Birmingham took a point at Upton Park

Sam Allardyce: West Ham boss feels his side are facing a battle to secure automatic promotion

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Sam Allardyce is pessimistic about catching Championship leaders Southampton after West Ham United were held to a 3-3 draw by Birmingham City, which left Chris Hughton content with a point.

The Hammers twice came from two goals down to snatch a point thanks to Ricardo Vaz Te's 89th minute penalty, but the result does little for the club's hopes of finishing in the top two.

With Southampton having won at Crystal Palace earlier in the day, West Ham are now six points adrift of top spot and have just four games left to play.

And Allardyce believes the only way the Hammers can gain automatic promotion is in second place if Reading slip up against Brighton and then Southampton on Friday.

Unbelievable

"It depends on what Reading do tomorrow and then what happens between Southampton and Reading," said Allardyce.

"If Reading slip up tomorrow and then Southampton beat Reading that's our only way back really. And at the end of that we've still got to go for four games with four wins.

"The first half suicidal commitment was unbelievable from my point of view.

"The players, when we set out to win a game of football, they need to be aware of what the opposition do and what they don't do and what we did was play straight into Birmingham's hands in the first half.

"There wasn't enough determination in the team by the players who defended that corner to say these boys are not going to score here at all costs.

"We've paid for a sloppy first half yet again and unfortunately while it's a magnificent comeback once again it's only one point and not three and three is what we wanted."

Vaz Te's late strike brought an end to Birmingham's three-game winning run but Hughton's side remain in fourth spot as they close in on a play-off place.

And while his side led until the 89th minute, Hughton believes it was a point gained rather than two dropped, insisting Birmingham's fate is in their own hands.

Momentum

"It's a good point here, you can only get the wins that you need to get and get the points that you need to get and you hope that some of the other results go for you," he said.

"And I think the results of late have been good for us but whether we get into that top six or not won't be down to other teams it will be down to us. If we can keep the momentum we've got at the moment hopefully we'll be OK.

"It was tough to keep it going for 90 minutes but we are a team that have come here and scored three goals. There won't be many that do that this season.

"I've only got good things to say about my team and I thought we were excellent and well worthy of the draw - it's not easy playing two games in two days."