West Ham United 1 Tottenham 1

  • by Matthew O'Greel
  • Sunday, 25th November 2007

West Ham and Tottenham played out a well fought draw at The Boleyn in this afternoon's Premier League clash.

Carlton Cole's 19th minute opener was cancelled out by Michael Dawson's second half strike to earn the struggling vistors an away point.

But it could have been even worse for the Hammers had Rob Green not saved Jermain Defoe's injury time penalty.

Alan Curbishley had welcomed Mark Noble and Hayden Mullins back to the side, although fit-again Dean Ashton and Scott Parker started on the bench, with Curbishley giving starts to those who performed so well in the 5-0 win at Derby a fortnight ago.

Tottenham started the brighter of the two sides, keeping the Hammers pinned back in their own half for the first fifteen minutes of the game. Indeed, they had the ball in the back of the net but Aaron Lennon was (rightly) ruled offside.

But it was to be West Ham who drew first blood with what was their first effort on target of the afternoon. Younis Kaboul - who was having yet another nightmare at the heart of the Spurs defence - gave the ball away deep in his own half.

Luis Boa Morte, alert as always, picked up the loose ball and drove towards the Tottenham goal before slipping it to Nobby Solano on the edge of the Spurs box. Carlton Cole, who had made a good run on the blind side received the perfect pass from the former Newcastle man leaving him an open goal in which to score.

Bouyed by the goal, Alan Curbishley's side began to take control and could have gone two-up when Mark Noble's fierce drive brought out a good save from the deposed England keeper Robinson on 24 minutes.

Two minutes later and Luis Boa Morte squandered a good chance to double United's lead after being set up by the Premier League's leading goal assister, Carlton Cole.

Tottenham then threatened at the other end when Berbatov blasted horribly wide when a Hayden Mullins mistake left him unmarked at the far post on 27 minutes. Four minutes later and a Spurs penalty appeal was denied by referee Mike Riley when Carlton Cole was given the benefit of the doubt as a cross struck his arm.

West Ham once again began to take control however and Matthew Etherington should have added a second goal instead of heading Nobby Solano's cross straight at Paul Robinson.

Four minutes from the break and the most controversial moment of the half came when Robbie Keane seemed - at first - to be pulled down in the box by Rob Green. However TV replays confirmed that Keane ahd simply lost control of the ball and simulated a foul in order to win a spot kick.

Referee Riley was unimpressed despite the protestations of the Irishman who was probably trying to hide his embarrassment at missing what appeared to be a simple chance to level the scores.

The first chance of the second half fell to Tottenham five minutes in when former Hammers target Steed Malbranque lofted his shot wide of Rob Green's far post when it seemed easier to score.

As the game began to incease its intesity Tottenham saw Pascal Chimbonda - another former Hammers target - and Michael Dawson cautioned within a minute of each other.

Not to be outdone, United saw Danny Gabbidon booked on 57 minutes for tugging Robbie Keane's shirt on the edge of the box. Gareth Bale's resulting free kick was easily plucked out of the air by Green.

On the hour mark West Ham had a chance to double their lead but Luis Boa Morte could only head tamely over the bar when trying to latch on to Carlton Cole's cross.

United's first change of the game came three minutes later when the tiring Mark Noble was replaced by Scott Parker. The former Newcastle midfielder had only been on the pitch for three minutes when Tottenham equalised.

Another Spurs free kick was lofted into the box; had Rob Green stayed put on his line he would have had an easy save to make, but instead he opted to come for the cross and was easily beaten to it by Michael Dawson, whose weak header found an empty net. Green was visibly distraught, but was to make amends later.

With the scores level both sides began to tread a little more gingerly, and it wasn't until Rob Green made an excellent point blank stop from Steed Malbranque 13 minutes from time that the game saw its next goalscoring opportunity.

With Dean Ashton on for the Hammers and Jermain Defoe for Spurs, both sides were clearly looking for a winning goal. Carlton Cole nearly doubled his tally on 80 minutes after a good run ended up with a 20 yard drive fizzing narrowly wide of Paul Robinson's right-hand post.

Three minutes later Scott Parker saw a shot fly over the bar when he pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the Spurs box. A minute later he went closer still with a shot destined for the bottom right corner which Robinson somehow managed to tip wide.

At the other end Dawson saw a header from a corner miss its intended target before Carlton Cole and Dean Ashton combined to create a good chance for Ashton which the excellent Robinson once again managed to avert.

With full-time rapidly approaching both sides knew that any goal now would almost certainly decide the game. It took the presence of Jermaine Jenas on the goal line to clear a goalbound header from George McCartney, who had connected with a dangerous corner, and deny West Ham a second goal.

Then, two minutes into injury time, massive controversy as Mike Riley ruled that Lucas Neill had pulled Jermain Defoe down inside the penalty box. West Ham's players were furious, and TV replays confirmed that it was an extremely soft penalty decision.

No doubt Riley, who had been badgered all game by several Tottenham players, was mindful of the penalty appeal that he had denied the vocal Keane in the first half.

But cometh the hour, cometh the man - and Rob Green was on hand to tip Defoe's penalty onto the post and to safety. It would be hard to argue that justice had not been served; Green had more than attoned for the earlier error which led to Tottenham's goal.

Spurred on by Green's save, the Hammers drove forward and Carlton Cole was unlucky not to win a free kick on the edge of the Spurs box after being sandwiched between three Tottenham defenders. That was enough for Riley who blew for full time, ending a game as easily as exciting as last season's 3-4.

The point ensures that West Ham remain seven points ahead of Tottenham in the Premier League. United remain in tenth place on 19 points, whilst Spurs stay in fourteenth place with 12, just two points above the relegation zone.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Green, Neill, McCartney, Upson, Gabbidon, Mullins, Noble (Parker 63), Solano (Spector 82), Etherington, Boa Morte (Ashton 72), Cole.

Subs not used: Wright, Collins.

Goals: Cole (19).

Booked: Cole (12).

Tottenham Hotpur: Robinson, Bale, Chimbonda, Kaboul (Bent 54), Dawson, Jenas, Zokora, Lennon, Malbranque, Keane (Defoe 78), Berbatov.

Subs not used: Cerny, Lee, Boateng.

Booked: Zokora (9), Chimbonda (52), Dawson (53), Defoe (81).

Referee: Mike Riley.

Attendance: 34,966.

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