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Fri, Jan

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WEST HAM boss Harry Redknapp excused Shaka Hislop for letting in a soft goal - as his keeper had been forced to play with a thigh injury.

The Hammers chief admitted he had to play Hislop at Goodison Park because Craig Forrest - who was on the bench - had a broken finger.

Hislop was blamed for the second-half Francis Jeffers effort that he allowed to slip through his hands into the net.

But Redknapp said: "Shaka has been terrific for us, so he can be forgiven one or two mistakes a year.

"It was a soft goal, sure, and it is unusual for our keeper to do something like that in the form he has been in.

"Shaka has been outstanding for us and it's just disappointing that something like that happened to him."

Redknapp, who saw the end of his team's unbeaten Premiership record, added: "Until that goal went in I couldn't see them or us scoring - it looked a banker draw.

"It's disappointing to lose our unbeaten record but I felt we should have come away with something.

We had the best two chances - until they scored, Everton hadn't made a decent chance."

Everton are seventh in the table, their highest position for more than three years, and boss Walter Smith said: "It wasn't our best performance because of the conditions.

"We had to work very hard for the points and I felt we did enough to deserve the victory.

"I'm pleased we maintained our unbeaten home record, and kept our good form going.

"Once we got the goal we stepped up our performance, and made it hard for them."