Slaven Bilic felt West Ham United deserved all three points following their 1-1 draw at Watford, but admitted he was disappointed with the Irons’ start to the game and acknowledged they could have lost it following Michail Antonio’s red card.

The Hammers were up against it from as early as the third minute when Troy Deeney scored a penalty after Cheikhou Kouyate had fouled Mauro Zarate in the penalty area. But the Hammers regrouped, became the better side towards the end of the first half and increasingly dominated after the break, getting their deserved reward when substitute Andre Ayew scored after a Michail Antonio shot hit both posts.

Bilic’s side had to see out the closing stages with ten men though, after Antonio was sent off for a second yellow card and the home side almost clinched the points deep into injury time when some brave goalkeeping from Darren Randolph prevented Isaac Success from turning in a Deeney header at the far post.

Describing his emotions as mixed, Bilic said: “I’m so pleased the way we played, especially in the second half, but I’m not happy with the way we started the game. You have to give them credit as well; it wasn’t just sloppy from us. It was a good move from Zarate and Deeney and it was a soft penalty.

“After that it’s not easy; they’re winning, you’re playing away and there’s always a chance they’re going to score a second one. I’ve seen many games finish 3-0 even although you are dominating. But we reacted well in the first half with a couple of chances with ball possession, but in the last third of the pitch we weren’t confident enough, we weren’t penetrating them enough.”

The West Ham manager felt his side could “raise the level of our game” in the second half and describing their display after the break as “one of our best performances”.

He continued: “It was all us and we definitely deserved to score an equaliser. From my point of view we were so much better in the second half that we deserved to win the game, to score again, but then when you are playing the last five or eight minutes with ten men there’s always a situation, especially from the free-kicks with their presence in the air, that you can lose the game.

“I’m very proud of the team. A little bit disappointed because I know how we are playing recently and it’s not just a couple of games, it’s a longer period, and the way we train and the atmosphere we had, I expected to play the whole game like we did in the second half.”