It’s agony for Cole!

WHEN THE final whistle blew at Upton Park on Sunday there was a sight that left an abiding memory from this London derby, writes DAVE EVANS. West Ham striker Carlton Cole fell to the turf exhausted, but more than that, distraught at the calamitous mistake

WHEN THE final whistle blew at Upton Park on Sunday there was a sight that left an abiding memory from this London derby, writes DAVE EVANS.

West Ham striker Carlton Cole fell to the turf exhausted, but more than that, distraught at the calamitous mistake that had cost his team so dearly.

Maybe, as time goes by, he will forget the aberration of passing straight to Jermain Defoe for the Spurs equaliser and merely remember the glorious goal that had fired West Ham into a second-half lead against deadly rivals Spurs - maybe not.

It was a real rollercoaster ride for 25-year-old Cole on Sunday. In the first half he battled relentlessly against Ledley King and Sebastien Bassong, but somehow seemed to have his boots on the wrong feet when it came to finishing his chances.


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But then came that goal. Super control, a turn away from King and a hooked shot that hit the back of the net with Carlo Cudicini waving it on its way into the net.

Cole's fitness is essential for West Ham's chances this season, and more swashbuckling performances like this and he will worth his weight in gold.

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"Carlton played an unbelievable game," said West Ham boss Gian-franco Zola afterwards.

"In both halves, on his own, he kept their whole defence in trouble. For me he played a great game.

"He was unlucky, he made a mistake, lost his concentration for a second and it was costly, very costly to us."

Midfielder Scott Parker was full of sympathy for the big striker.

"That could've happened to any of us, it's part and parcel of the game," he insisted. "You put yourself on offer like 'Coley' does and like all of us do and you're going to make mistakes.

"I think he just saw Matty Upson and obviously Defoe is quite a small fella and he's obviously not seen him."

Zola, ever the professional, was less compassionate to his player, but instead insisted that this was a harsh lesson that Cole will learn.

"The first thing I told him was to stop feeling sorry for himself," said Zola.

"He made a mistake for their first goal, but he created our first goal with just something unbelievable.

"He made a mistake, he lost his concentration for a second and that will be something good in the future for him."

England coach Fabio Capello was at Upton Park to witness Cole's mixed day, but Parker believes that the striker has what it takes to make it the national team.

"He's got all the attributes to be a big player for us and a big player at international level," said the midfield man.

"I think you all saw it today. He's got massive strength, he can bring people into the game and I think he's got a massive season ahead of him.

"I think if he does well this season, he'll definitely be pushing for a start or to get into the England side."

Cole is likely to be selected in Capello's squad for the friendly against Slovenia on September 5 and the World Cup qualifier with Croatia four days later.

And Zola believes the horror of what happened to the former Chelsea man at Upton Park on Sunday will stand him in good stead in the future.

"He has to learn that if he wants to be in the international team on a regular basis, then he has to avoid those blackouts," explained the West Ham manager.

"But he knows, he is an intelligent boy, he is determined, he's ambitious and he will learn from that."

As Cole lay on the Upton Park turf on Sunday, the last thing on his mind would have been how much he will have learned from this disaster.

But it is hard to imagine that he will ever contemplate a back pass like that again - and as for that wonder strike, a few more of those would go along way towards the fans forgetting West Ham's gift to Defoe.

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