Premier League
Blackburn Rovers 1-1 West Ham United 

Saturday, 18th December 2010
by Staff Writer

Supersub Junior Stanislas' second half strike earned what could be a precious point for West Ham on a bitterly cold afternoon in the North West.

Stanislas - on as a 57th minute substitute for the disappointing Pablo Barrera - took advantage of a loose ball inside the penalty area to fire home a 78th minute equaliser for Avram Grant's side, who had fallen behind to Ryan Nelson's opener at the beginning of the second half.

The game itself was anything but a classic but that will be of little concern to Avram Grant who, despite failing to lead the Hammers to their first away win in the league since the opening day of last season, has cause to be reasonably pleased with his team's reluctance to roll over having gone behind.

United - already missing first team regulars such as Rob Green, Lars Jacobsen, Mark Noble and Victor Obinna - also lost Valon Behrami to injury during the pre-match warm-up, meaning a late call to Jon Spector who replaced the unfortunate and perenially-injured Swiss midfielder.

In an error-strewn first half in which both sides were equally poor, West Ham's only efforts of the opening 35 minutes came from Spector and Frederic Piquionne - both of which ended up nearer to Row Z than Paul Robinson's goal.

Instead it was Luis Boa Morte, one of few to put in a decent first half shift who went closest to breaking the deadlock a minute ahead of the break when he forced a good stop from the former England 'keeper, having been sent through clear on goal.

In recent weeks it has become the norm for West Ham to perform better in the second half than the first. However it was to be the home side who drew first blood when Ryan Nelson gave Rovers a somewhat fortuitous lead just six minutes after the restart.

Ruud Boffin, who had had little to do until that point pulled off a tremendous save - from point blank range - from Nelson after the New Zealander had reacted first to a loose ball that emanated from an uncleared cross.

However there was little the 6'5" stopper could do to prevent the rebound from falling somewhat comically over the line after Nelson had sent it goalbound once again via his thigh. Quite where Boffin's defence was was anyone's guess.

Undeterred, West Ham pushed on and began to take control of the game - despite Blackburn threatening to put the game beyond United by constantly looking dangerous on the counter. But the introduction of Stanislas and Carlton Cole (for the disappointing Barrera and Spector) gave the United effort added impetus - and it wasn't long before an equaliser began to look inevitable.

Carlton Cole stated West Ham's intent by firing narrowly wide after some good work by Dyer and Parker on the right flank. Matthew Upson then went agonisingly close when some quick thinking saw him hit the post with a reflex effort from close range with a left-foot flick. Freddie Piquionne, involved heavily but not having one of his better days then nodded a Dyer corner over the bar - despite being entirely unmarked.

Then, with just 12 minutes of normal time remaining Junior Stanislas finally notched the goal that the Irons' second half effort had deserved. Scott Parker almost impossibly weaved his way through a wary Rovers defence before being halted by the last man, eight yards from goal. The ball spun out of the tackle into the path of Stanislas, perfectly poised, who fired expertly across the face of Robinson into the 'keeper's far corner.

Sadly, despite having wounded their opponents the Hammers failed to go for the kill and one wasted Piquionne chance was the sum of United's goalbound efforts thereafter. Blackburn threatened most from the feet of Pedersen who saw two free kicks flash narrowly wide of Boffin's goal but all in all a draw was perhaps a fair result - and one that Avram Grant will no doubt be the more pleased with as far as the two managers are concerned.

So a decent point on the road, but due to West Ham's awful first half of the 2010/11 Premier League season it's games like these that United will have to start winning if they are to avoid relegation come next May.

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Player Ratings

Ruud Boffin
Comments to follow.

Danny Gabbidon
Comments to follow.

Tal Ben Haim
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James Tomkins
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Matthew Upson
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Jonathan Spector
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Scott Parker
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Kieron Dyer
Comments to follow.

Luis Boa Morte
Comments to follow..

Pablo Barrera
Comments to follow.

Frederic Piquionne
Comments to follow.


Carlton Cole
(Replaced Barrera, 57 mins) Comments to follow.

Junior Stanislas
(Replaced Spector, 57 mins) Comments to follow.

Benni McCarthy
(Replaced Dyer, 82 mins) Comments to follow.

Jake Larkins
Did not play.

Winston Reid
Did not play.

Julien Faubert
Did not play.

Valon Behrami
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Ruud Boffin, Danny Gabbidon, Tal Ben Haim, James Tomkins, Matthew Upson, Jonathan Spector, Scott Parker, Kieron Dyer, Luis Boa Morte, Pablo Barrera, Frederic Piquionne.

Goals: Junior Stanislas 78                  .

Booked: Tal Ben Haim 47 Luis Boa Morte 90 James Tomkins 91      .

Sent off: None.

Blackburn Rovers: Robinson, Salgado, Nelsen, Samba, Givet, Emerton, Duff, Pedersen, E-H Diouf, Roberts, M-B Diouf.

Subs not used: Bunn, Olsson, Hoilett, Kalinic.

Goals: Nelsen (51).

Booked: Givet, Emerton.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Mike Dean.

Attendance: 21,934.

Man of the Match: Junior Stanislas.