Liverpool 0 West Ham United 0
Saturday, 30th January 2016
by Gordon Thrower
West Ham are in the hat for tomorrow afternoon's FA Cup fifth round draw after earning a goalless draw at Anfield this evening.The Boleyn Ground will see at least one more FA Cup tie after tonight's highly-anticipated clash ended 0-0, after both teams effectively cancelled each other out in a drab affair on Merseyside.
However West Ham - minus the likes of goalkeeper Adrian, Mark Noble and new signing Sam Byram - could have been celebrating successive wins at Anfield had erroneous official Martin Atkinson spotted a blatant hand ball midway through the second half.
A tedious opening 45 minutes resulted in neither team creating more than the odd half chance, although Darren Randolph, deputising for regular number one Adrian - who is in Spain with his heavily pregnant wife - was forced to tip away a Brannagan effort ten minutes ahead of the interval.
Meanwhile the nearest West Ham came to scoring in the first half came from a Pedro Obiang effort, which missed its intended target by a matter of inches in the closing seconds of the half. In their defence, Slaven Bilic's side had already been (further) weakened by the enforced removal of James Tomkins (head wound) and Cheik Kouyate.
However the game's main talking point occurred just four minutes after the restart when a Dimitri Payet free kick was arrowed into the penalty box where it clearly struck the arm of defender Caulker's arm - not once, but twice. West Ham's players may not have appealed en masse, but quite how the errant Atkinson managed to miss it will be much debated tonight.
Overall Atkinson experienced an error-strewn evening, making a string of bad calls - including a blatant back pass by Smith to Mignolet that should have resulted in an indirect free kick to West Ham on the edge of the box and a shirt tug by Winston Reid that, had it been spotted, would have resulted in a penalty to the hosts.
Yet the referee's shortcomings aside, both teams struggled to make an impact in the final third although Liverpool did at least hit the target on six occasions, to West Ham's miserly single effort on target (from a total of seven efforts).
And the Hammers had Man of the Match Randolph to thank for ensuring Liverpool failed to breach United's defence on the rare occasion they fashioned a worthy effort on goal; the Irish international made two great blocks within 60 seconds in the final quarter-of-an-hour and also denied Teixeira from the game's best move on the hour mark.
The replay is scheduled for Tuesday, 9th February - tickets are already on sale to season ticket holders (priced ??20 for adults and ??10 for juniors).
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Player RatingsDarren Randolph
Kept West Ham in the Cup with a couple of important second half saves.
Had barely warmed up before being replaced following a nasty clash of heads with Joe Allen.
'Sound', as they say on the Wirral.
Lucky not to concede a penalty after a clear shirt tug - otherwise solid enough.
Kep Benteke in his pocket during our most recent meeting, didn't even have to try tonight.
Like TOmkins, was victim of a first half reshuffle enfoced by injury.
Playuing a little further forward than he is accustomed to doing.
The usual no nonsense, quietly efficient performance.
Not at the races and rightly replaced during the second half.
His quietest game for several weeks.
Barely created a chance, his stand out moment was stacking it on the sideline as he raced to reetrieve the ball for a throw-in.
Joey O Brien
(Replaced Tomkins) Back in the first team squad for the first time in a while. One moment of magic on the right flank where he left three oppoennets for dead. We'll ignore the Row Z'er a few moments later.
(Replaced Kouyate) Benefitted from a tactical switch in the first half, put in the miles but little to show for it.
(Replaced Moses) One lung-bursting 90-yard run briefly worried Liverpool but this was not a night to see him at his attacking best.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Darren Randolph, James Tomkins, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna, Cheikhou Kouyate, Alex Song, Pedro Obiang, Victor Moses, Dimitri Payet, Enner Valencia.
Booked: Mark Noble 38 .
Sent Off: Mark Noble 78 .
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Caulker, Smith, Allen, Brannagan, Stewart, Ibe, Teixeira, Benteke.
Subs not used: .
Sent off: None.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Man of the Match: Darren Randolph.