Filed: Saturday, 15th September 2012
By: Staff Writer
West Ham grabbed their first point on the road of the current campaign with a third clean sheet from four Premier League outings this season.
A backs-to-the-wall second half performance was the backbone of today's goalless draw at Carrow Road, in which Sam Allardyce's side were more than a match for their opponents in the opening 45 minutes but distinctly second best after the break.
And but for recent signing Jussi Jaaskelainen, who made several important stops - none more so than deep into injury time when he denied substitute Harry Kane - West Ham could have been returning to London empty handed.
Although they struggled to get into their rhythm in the second half, the Hammers were full of enterprise and creativity before the break. Whilst Norwich perhaps had the slight edge, West Ham could have scored at least twice.
United's best chances came firstly on 13 minutes, when Ricardo Vaz Te forced a good save out of John Ruddy after some good work on the right flank and Carlton Cole's resulting header, from the loose ball, was cleared off the line.
And just six minutes later Kevin Nolan, fed by left back Joey O'Brien who had worked his way around three Norwich players saw his shot from just six yards well saved by Ruddy.
There was also plenty of action at the other end - with the most notable incident occurring just ahead of the half time whistle. A desperate lunge by James Collins, as he challenged Andrew Surman on the edge of the box, looked to be a penalty as the advancing Norwich player hit the ground inside the area.
But as TV replays confirmed, referee Chris Foy called it absolutely right when he awarded a free kick, with the point of contact being inches outside the box.
That was the third time Norwich had asked for a spot kick following appeals in the first and 17th minutes - the first for hand ball and the second for a foul. As on the third occasion, Foy was correct to deny Norwich those either.
With Ricardo Vaz Te firing blanks from the right wing, there was very little suplpy for Carlton Cole or his replacement Modibo Maiga to work with after the break - although Matt Jarvis, a 57th minute replacement for Matt Taylor at least offered one or two glimpses as to why West Ham considered £10.75million a worthy investment.
West Ham were restricted to a handful of half chances in the second half with Momo Diame, Vaz Te and Jarvis and all having pop shots. Meanwhile Norwich worked Jaaskelainen in the West Ham goal on several occasions and none more notable than when he tipped Jackson's goalbound effort over the bar just six minutes after the restart.
The flying Finn was also on hand to deny Kane in the final minute of added on time when City threatened to snatch all three points as they countered a West Ham free kick. Kane, released on the left attempted to slip the ball under Jaaskelainen but the former Bolton man was alert enough to dny the Tottenham loanee.
The point leaves West Ham with seven from a maximum twelve in their first four games which is a fine return. Some will point to the fact that West Ham are yet to face any of the division's top sides but as the old adage goes, you can only beat what's in front of you.
With West Ham having done that on both occasions at the Boleyn, today's useful point gives Sam Allardyce's side the perfect platform for when Sunderland visit Upton Park next weekend.
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02:50PM 15th Sep 2012
''This was meant to be Cole's chance to shine. All you God bashers pray that he scores a wonder goal in December so that we can get a few bob for him in January.''