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Premier League
Thursday, 1st January 2015

West Ham United 1
West Bromwich Albion 1

by Staff Writer


West Ham stumbled to their first point of the Christmas program with a low-key performance against struggling West Brom at the Boleyn this afternoon.

Having lost at Chelsea on Boxing Day and then at home to Arsenal 48 hours later, three points today were seen as a bare minimum.

However in the end it was the visitors - being watched by new manager Tony Pulis from high up in the West Stand - who looked the more likely to win the game.

Although it was a hugely disappointing performance overall, West Ham had started the game brightly and got off to the best possible start when taking the lead after only ten minutes.

Alex Song started the move when he picked up the ball on the edge of West Ham's penalty box, before finding Stewart Downing. The England international found Morgan Amalfitano who in turn found Aaron Cresswell out wide.

With Albion retreating, the full back steered his cross towards the near post - the perfect delivery for Diafra Sakho who arrived on cue to steer a header into the far corner.

Downing could have doubled the lead three minutes later when he cut inside from the left before firing straight at Ben Foster. Bar a half chance for former Baggies winger Amalfitano and a free kick from Aaron Cresswell after the break, that was as good as it got for the Hammers.

The first sign of things to come arrived midway through the half when Adrian was called into action to produce a fine save to his left. However he could only stand and watch as Sessegnon fired wide from eight yards with the goal at his mercy four minutes later.

Chris Brunt, one of several Albion players to have been linked with West Ham in the past, then tried his luck a couple of times before West Brom finally breached West Ham's shaky defence, just three minutes from the break.

Sessegnon found himself with space on the left as Albion countered a Hammers attack. James Collins backed off, allowing the Benin international free passage into United's penalty box from. From there he squared the ball to Berahino, who coolly slotted the ball into Adrian's left hand corner.

The second half continued in a similar pattern to the end of the first, with West Ham largely controlling possession but failing to make inroads in the final third due to Albion's excellent organisation.

This worked to Albion's advantage and several times they hit West Ham on the counter, in similar fashion to that which led to their equaliser. Just four minutes after the restart Berahino had Adrian scrambling to his left to push wide a deflected shot.

West Ham were inches away from regaining the lead on the hour mark when Cresswell surprised everyone by stepping up to sire a free kick against the post, with Ben Foster well beaten. Two minutes later, Downing managed to cut inside but this time, failed to find the target as his shot sailed over the bar.

Chances thereafter were few and far between but Sessegnon, perhaps Albion's liveliest player on the day could have snatched a win for the visitors in the final minute of normal time but he snatched at the chance, dragging his shot wide from inside the box.

Despite West Ham's best efforts to drown out any booing, a few voices of discontent were still audible from the stands as referee Jon Moss blew for time - although on this occasion they seemed more in frustration, rather than fuelled by malice.

The point means West Ham remain sixth in the table, although a win for Spurs at home to Chelsea later this evening would take them above the Irons.




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Player Ratings

Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
The pick of a poor bunch, again. Two great saves, little he could do about the goal.


Carl Jenkinson
Back in the starting line-up, Jenks was efficent defensively but provided little in attack, having been effectively nullified by Albion's game plan.


Aaron Cresswell
He created Sakho's goal and was prevented from capping his day with the winning goal by the post - otherwise like Jenkinson, he provided little going forward.


Winston Reid
A tendency to go long when under any kind of pressure. He's not looked the same player since the contract sheninigans became a major topic of discussion.


James Collins
Not your typical Collins game. He's fine when facing a barrage but troubled by pace. His insistence on backing away from his man played a major part in Albion's goal.


Alex Song
His quick thinking led to West Ham's only goal, but more often than not he was guilty of slowing the play down when a quicker release would have been a better option.


Morgan Amalfitano
Tried to put on a show against his former employers but was unable to make an impact. The first to go today.


Cheikhou Kouyate
Without Mark Noble or Kevin Nolan alongside him, Cheik often looks uncomfortable as he bears greater defensive responsibility. Not reallt in it much today.


Stewart Downing
With his old trick of cutting inside from the wing now being carefully monitored by opposing teams, he's struggled to have the same impact in recent games. Still our most effective outlet however and his part in the goal was an important one.


Diafra Sakho
Scored anothe goal to take his tally to nine for the season but was otherwise wasteful, conceding possession too often.


Andy Carroll
A bit of a stinker for AC, who failed to take the heat off his manager for making Mauro Zarate surplus to requirements.


Substitutes


Matt Jarvis
(replaced Amalfitano) Thrust into the shop window, I mean the action ten minutes into the second half Jarvo failed to provide much inspiration bar one decent run.


Enner Valencia
(replaced Sakho) His mind appeared to be elsewhere - which it probably is, as he became a father the week before last.


Carlton Cole
(replaced Carroll) Nothing to see here.


Jussi Jaaskelainen
Did not play.


Joey O Brien
Did not play.


Mark Noble
Did not play.


Kevin Nolan
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Jonathan Moss.

Attendance: 34,914.

Man of the Match: Adrian San Miguel del Castillo.

West Ham United

Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, James Collins, Alex Song, Morgan Amalfitano, Cheikhou Kouyate, Stewart Downing, Diafra Sakho, Andy Carroll.

Goals: Diafra Sakho 10                  .

Booked: Cheikhou Kouyate 4          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

West Bromwich Albion

.

Substitutes: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: None.

Sent Off: None.

 
Staff Writer's Man of the Match: Adrian San Miguel del Castillo


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