West Ham Utd 3-3 West Brom

  • by Staff Writer
  • Saturday, 28th December 2013

There were goals-a-plenty at the Boleyn this afternoon as two teams struggling to score in the Premier League defied the bookies' odds to produce a six-goal thriller.

Prior to kick-off you could have got anywhere between 50 and 80-1 for a 3-3 draw, with few expecting a deluge of goals from an encounter between two teams that had managed just 34 between them in the 36 Premier League fixtures they had played prior to today's meeting.

West Ham, bereft of half a team through injury and hampered further by the withdrawal of their only fit central defender James Tomkins after just eight minutes took to the field featuring no less than nine free transfers, with only Matt Jarvis and Kevin Nolan having troubled the co-owners' bank accounts.

Yet this merry band of graduates, cast-offs and last chance saloon-dwellers had a nervous home crowd on their feet after just four minutes when Joe Cole combined with captain Nolan, back in the team following his recent three-match suspension before firing across Albion's Ben Foster to give United an early, critical lead. Guy Demel almost doubled United's advantage on the half-hour mark but the woodwork proved an unwelcome obstacle.

It was a lead that was to last until five minutes before the interval when Nicolas Anelka eluded West Ham's makeshift central defensive pairing of Joey O'Brien and George McCartney before squeezing the ball past Jussi Jasskelainen. The Frenchman's subsequent goal celebration, a nod to controversial comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala was later revealed to have anti-Semitic overtones which the FA, in their infinite wisdom, have already confirmed they will be investigating.

That semi-comedic episode of defending was usurped moments later when West Ham somehow contrived to turn a promising lead into a half time deficit. With Albion having been incorrectly awarded a corner when Joe Cole's tackle on James Morrison was given the way of the visitors by the regularly-incompetent Mike Dean, Anelka poked the Baggies into the lead when he was first to react after Carlton Cole had prevented a certain goal from a downward header.

Cole himself proved to be the fall guy for that deficit and Modibo Maiga took his place in the team as the players returned for the second half. Whether it was a tactical decision or merely one prompted by a horrible challenge on Jonas Olsson that left the giant Swede with two new stripes in his thigh (that he took great pleasure in exhibiting to a less-than-sympathetic Lower West Stand) remains unknown outside of the confines of the dressing room, but it had a pivotal effect on the match.

Maiga, previously likened to seasoned failures such as John Radford and Iain Dowie having gone an entire calender year without a goal produced just about the best 45 minutes of his short West Ham career as he turned the game in the Hammers' favour within the space of three minutes.

With 65 on the clock and a petulant Boleyn crowd baying for blood, he levelled the scores with a trademark curling, left-footed strike that (somehow) evaded Foster before nestling inside the 'keeper's right-hand post. Just two minutes later his far post header from Mark Noble's cross allowed a rejuvenated Nolan to twist his body goalwards before diverting Maiga's knockdown into the roof of Albion's net.

Celebrating Irons supporters were afforded mere seconds in which to enjoy their team's unexpected advantage as within two minutes Albion's exciting youngster Saido Berahino - a team mate of West Ham's (unavailable) Ravel Morrison in England's Under 21s camp - fired across Jaaskelainen from an acute angle to make it 3-3, much to the delight of the less-than-capacity - yet lively, as ever - Baggies contingent behind the goal.

Disappointment at losing the lead was tempered somewhat when Mo Diame conceded a second successive free kick on the perimeter of the penalty box with just ten minutes remaining and Berahino's resulting effort smashed against the post before bouncing to safety. West Ham have cursed their luck all season but the good Lady was certainly smiling on those of a claret and blue persuasion at that precise moment.

Sam Allardyce had billed today's encounter as a six-pointer yet on reflection it's unlikely he will be too dissatisfied with his team's overall performance. Up against it for most of the match with no recognised central defenders and missing key personnel such as Carroll, Reid, Downing, Collins and Morrison, West Ham's second half recovery and general willingness to fight should at least give hope to both Allardyce and those seriously concerned by the team's current position in the Premier League.

West Ham United 3-3 West Bromwich Albion: Match Facts

West Ham Utd: Jaaskelainen, McCartney, Nolan, Tomkins (Demel 8), Jarvis, Rat, Noble, O'Brien, Diame, C Cole (Maiga 46), J Cole (Collison 83).

Subs not used: Adrian, Chambers, Diarra.

Goals: Cole (4), Maiga (65), Nolan (67).

Booked: C Cole (43), Nolan (57), Diame (81).

Shots on/off target: 16 (6/10).

Possession: 47%.

West Brom: Foster, Olsson, Ridgewell, Morrison (Yacob 78), Brunt, Lugano, Mulumbu, McAuley, Jones, Berahino (Sessegnon 85), Anelka.

Subs not used: Myhill, Amalfitano, Sinclair, Vydra, Dawson.

Goals: Anelka (40, 45), Berahino (69).

Booked: Mulumbu (48), Ridgewell (90).

Shots on/off target: 22 (7/15).

Possession: 53%.

Referee: Mike Dean (5).

Attendance: 34,946.

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