Filed: Tuesday, 28th December 2010
By: Staff Writer
The Hammers blew a golden opportunity to escape the relegation zone by failing to beat Everton at the Boleyn this afternoon.
A win for Avram Grant's side would have lifted West Ham above both Birmingham and Wigan - albeit temporarily due to most other teams in and around the drop zone having games in hand.
However Seamus Coleman's first half equaliser cancelled out Tony Hibbert's own goal to leave the Hammers languishing in 19th spot - with just Wolves, who visit the Boleyn next weekend, below them.
West Ham, missing a number of key personnel also rested Carlton Cole, whose brace just 48 hours earlier at Fulham had given United their first league win on the road since August 2009.
Freddie Sears made his second consecutive start since returning from a loan spell cut short at Scunthorpe, whilst fellow non-first team regulars such as Radoslav Kovac and Herita Ilunga also featured.
Despite starting with a fair few reserves it was West Ham that began the brighter, and the goal - a Hibbert deflection from an attempted scissors kick from Kovac - was well deserved following a sustained period of pressure.
But being in possession of such a poor defensive record it was imperative that United found a second goal to complement the opener - something they paid a heavy price for failing to do when Coleman stole in on the blind side to equalise in the closing moments of the first half.
Herita Ilunga - restored to the team in place of a rested Tal Ben Haim - had been forced to withdraw through injury on the half hour mark. The Congolese full-back, a shadow of the player who enjoyed an excellent first season in east London to be replaced by Jonathan Spector.
It was at left back that the quiet American had struggled so badly last season under Gianfranco Zola - and it was from the left side that the Everton goal arrived today.
Yet despite a number of supporters citing Spector as being at fault for failing to pick up the Blues youngster, it should perhaps be pointed out that he was tucking inside as the result of a request from head coach Wally Downes moments earlier.
The second half was a much closer affair with the visitors probably edging it. However the best chance to win the game fell to West Ham - a wonderfully slick passing move involving Kovac and Sears - and Carlton Cole, who failed to find the target when he should have scored.
Despite enjoying a healthy share of possession Everton failed to really test Hammers 'keeper Rob Green, who also happened to be named as the sponsors' Man of the Match. Yet they were well deserving of a point that keeps them above the relegation zone - but still in some trouble themselves.
West Ham have another chance to lift themselves out of the mire when basement club Wolves visit the Boleyn next weekend. Should Grant's side manage to secure a win, the manager will no doubt look back on a Christmas haul of eight points as a job well done.
Defeat? Well that really is unthinkable...
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10:07PM 31st Dec 2010
''Wolves (surprisingly?) beating Liverpool piles on the agony and will make Saturday a massively tense affair.''
01:43PM 29th Dec 2010
''Yes, disappointing also with other results at the bottom end of the table not going our way. Kovac chasing shadows all evening. I've watched him closely over recent games - he wins nothing, his distribution is attrocious, absolutely woeful, at least Boa Morte tries.
I blame Upson somewhat for not attacking what looked to me to be a loose ball outside the box to let Everton in for their equaliser last night. Must, must, must beat the Wolves on Saturday. Thought Everton looked very good going forward. Massive miss by Cole on 70 minutes from Sears's cross. He was back to usual, hiding, head down and Bambi on ice ball control.''
by Tell it how it is Charley
10:22AM 29th Dec 2010
''A draw isn't a bad result. You keep telling us about Ilunga 'not being the player he was' then hopefully the board will follow your advice and get us a half decent left back on loan/buy. It's one of the problems that has dogged West Ham for a long time.
Seeing as it was the second game in just over 48 hours and Everton didn't play on Sunday I would have taken a draw. It's better to have the points even if you have played a few more. At least the confidence levels can now be raised.
It's all about Scott Parker and his fitness. Surely he cannot play all the games, can he?''