West Ham United 1 Bolton Wanderers 1
Sunday, 4th November 2007
by Graeme Howlett
An injury time equaliser from Kevin Nolan denied West Ham all three points in this afternoon's Premier League encounter.Nolan pounced in the third minute of added time to earn a point for the visitors against a second string Hammers side depleted by injury.
George McCartney had given the Hammers a 19th minute lead with the first club goal of his ten year career.
And despite crating a string of opportunities thereafter the Hammers failed to extend that lead, something they were severely punished for some 74 minutes later.
Alan Curbishley's injury problems - which had left him short of no less than ELEVEN players (at least eight of whom would have been involved today) worsened after Hayden Mullins was withdraw just five minutes into the second half.
But it still looked as if United's patched up team of reserves and misfits had done enough to earn all three points - until Bolton's late equaliser.
The Hammers had started the stronger of the two sides and were in the middle of a purple patch when McCartney struck to break the deadlock.
Matthew Upson had initially stabbed the ball towards goal after it fell kindly from a corner, but Bolton managed to clear the shot.
However the resulting cross back in fell to McCartney who swivelled expertly to fire home - with his right foot - his first ever league goal.
The Trotters fired back immediately and yet again McCartney was involved - this time to head the ball off his own line after Diouf's deflected shot had looped over the head of Rob Green.
And eight minutes later Bolton went closer still when Guthrie's shot beat Green, but not the post.
West Ham started the second half as they did the first and Solano was unlucky not to register his first goal for the club when Jaaskelainen tipped a fierce drive wide of his right-hand post.
On 56 minutes United thought they had a penalty when Lee Bowyer was sandwiched in the box; TV replays showed that the referee's decision to ignore the appeal was probably the right one.
Nine minutes later the Hammers almost added a second when Luis Boa Morte forced Gardner to clear off his line. Then, Cole saw a good shot saved by the Finnish keeper before fluffing the follow up.
With the Hammers visibly tiring Bolton began to come back into the game, and Kevin Davies was unlucky to see his header clip the wrong side of the bar on 73 minutes.
Three minutes later Lee Bowyer produced a superb sliding tackle just as Diouf was poised to fire home.
A string of substitutions followed - John Paintsil was introduced for the Hammers to make his first league start of the season, whilst Bolton replaced Speed and the injured Hunt with Samuel and McCann.
United's final chance of the game fell to Lucas Neill just a minute from the end of normal time. Unfortunately the Aussie failed to pull the trigger after a superb foray down the right flank.
Then heartbreak for the Hammers; visibly creaking at the back Nolan profitted from some indecision to nod home the equaliser three minutes into injury time.
It was a cruel blow for the Hammers who had just about done enough to win the game, a mere four days after they had done practically the same to Coventry in the Carling Cup.
Looking back this will no doubt be considered two points dropped against a team bottom of the league that had managed just ten league goals prior to today (with six of them coming from Nicolas Anelka, who was absent today through injury).
But given United's horrendous injury problems a return of five points from the last three games (extending their unbeaten run to four games in all competitions) isn't as bad as could perhaps be expected.
Next up for Curbishley's side is the trip to Derby, before Tottenham - struggling massively themselves - visit Upton Park.
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Player RatingsRobert Green
Possibly his worst performance of the season given the high standard he has set thus far.
Another competent performance although he needed to be more clinical in forward positions.
A great goal and a goal-line clearance to boot in the first half.
Not really at the races today, and was lucky to see Davies' header clip the bar when he temporarily fell asleep.
Was involved in the goal but still looks occasionally suspect against a big striker.
Some sloppy passing before he was scythed down towards the end of the first half, resulting in his substitution.
A gutsy performance typified by a superb tackle against Diouf late on to prevent the African scoring.
One or two neat touches but still failing to reproduce his Newcastle form.
A solid performance, once again all the creativity came through him on the left flank.
Luis Boa Morte
Clearly lacking in confidence and some of his passing/crossing was woeful.
Worked hard (as is becoming the norm) as a lone target.
(replaced Mullins, 50) Made a couple of good bursts forward but is clearly unhappy playing in centre midfield.
(replaced Cole, 72) Seems to jump about a second too early for every header. Had the ball in the net but was clearly offside.
(replaced Bowyer, 85) Got booked, nearly hit the corner flag with one shot and was on when Bolton equalised. But like Spector, a central midfielder he is not.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Robert Green, Lucas Neill, George McCartney, Danny Gabbidon, Matthew Upson, Hayden Mullins, Lee Bowyer, Nobby Solano, Matthew Etherington, Luis Boa Morte, Carlton Cole.
Goals: George McCartney 19 .
Booked: Lee Bowyer 64 John Paintsil 90 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Gardner, Meite, O'Brien, Guthrie, Nolan, Campo, Speed, Diouf, Davies.
Subs not used: Al-Habsi, Giannakopoulos.
Goals: Nolan (90).
Booked: Hunt (36).
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: George McCartney.