Newcastle United 2 West Ham United 2
Saturday, 20th January 2007
by Graeme Howlett
West Ham United picked up their first away point of 2007 at St James Park this afternoon - but will be disappointed not to have taken all three .Goals from Carlton Cole and Marlon Harewood saw the Hammers storm into an early 2-0 lead before efforts from James Milner and Nol Solano earned the home side a point.
Yet once again the game was overshadowed by a shocking decision from the man in the middle. Last week it was Graham Poll who incurred the wrath of the Boleyn crowd, whilst today Uriah Rennie was guilty of an absolute howler that gave the home side added impetus at a time when the game looked beyond them.
With the game in first-half injury time - and West Ham United cruising at 2-0 - Rennie ignored his assistant who was flagging on the touchline and deemed the clearly offside Scott Parker not to be interfering with play despite standing in the line of James Milner's shot - much to the fury of West Ham who felt - justifiably - harshly done by.
That goal meant Newcastle - who had been run ragged by the Hammers up until that point - went into the break just a goal behind. It clearly spurred them on in the second half as just seven minutes into it, they were back on level terms.
Luis Boa Morte suffered one of those 'naked lunch' moments when he hand-balled an innocuous looking free-kick; Rennie had no hesitation in awaring the penalty which Nobby Solano duly despatched to level the scores.
Given the circumstances, one might have expected the Hammers to fold - and it is true that Newcastle enjoyed the better chances thereafter. But Alan Curbishley's side appear to be made of stronger stuff these days, and spurred on by the two Nigels - Messrs Quashie and Reo-Coker - in the heart of midfield stuck to their guns and held on for the point.
Yet having given themselves such a strong platform from which to go on and win the game there will undoubtedly be a few disappointed faces on the flight back to London tonight. The Hammers had started the game impressively, and the two early goals - United's first league goals away from home since August - were no more than they deseved for their endeavour.
Carlton Cole had opened the scoring on 17 minutes when two of Curbishley's recent captures - Quashie and debutant Calum Davenport - combined from a corner kick to set up Cole for a tap in.
Then Marlon Harewood scored his first away from home in the league five minutes later when he left Ramage for dead before poking the ball beyond Shay Given, following an excellent through ball from Geroge McCartney, again preferred to Paul Konchesky.
Indeed the Hammers may have won the game had Davenport's header from a corner not been ruled out for a push midway through the second half. But once again Lady Luck had refused to smile on Curbishley's side - although they can take heart from an impressive performance, a million miles away from the capitulation at Reading a fortnight ago.
Next up for the Hammers are Watford in the Cup next weekend - and they will hopefully be boosted by the signing of Lucas Neill, who confirmed today that he had agreed to join the Hammers after days of rumours.
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Player RatingsRoy Carroll
Made some vital saves, none more important that the last minute effort from Martins' shot.
Got up and down the wing whenever possible but struggled in the second half.
Great through ball for our second goal but troubled by Milner all afternoon.
Solid enough debut, will be disappointed to have his 'goal' ruled out.
Obviously not 100% fit - but gave 100% effort until the injury.
No nonsense performance - just what the doctor ordered.
Best effort this season. An inspirational performance.
A fairly quiet afternoon for Yossi.
Luis Boa Morte
Rarely involved although he suffered a knock early doors which may have affected his performance. The hand-ball was just silly.
Made a nuisance of himself and took his goal well. Maybe he does have something to offer.
Gave Ramage a torrid time in the first half. The goal will no doubt boost his (fragile) confidence.
(Replaced Cole, 73) His only real involvement was missing a second-half sitter. His last game for West Ham?
(Replaced Ferdinand, 85) Thrown into the mix to help maintain parity.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Roy Carroll, Christian Dailly, George McCartney, Calum Davenport, Anton Ferdinand, Nigel Quashie, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Luis Boa Morte, Carlton Cole, Marlon Harewood.
Goals: Carlton Cole 17 Marlon Harewood 22 .
Booked: Roy Carroll 45 Anton Ferdinand 45 Christian Dailly 89 Marlon Harewood 90 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Newcastle United: Given, Solano, Ramage, Huntingdon, Carr, Milner, Parker, Duff, Martins, Dyer.
Subs not used: Pattison, Carroll, Luque.
Goals: Milner (45), Solano (52).
Booked: Martins (54), Milner (71), Dyer (88).
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: Nigel Reo-Coker.