Hammers Disappoint But Earn Watford Draw
By Tom Dowsett
Thursday 08 Mar 2012 14:59:00
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West Ham United remain second in the npower Championship after failing to take advantage of Southhampton's slip up against Ipswich Town as the Hammers also drew 1-1 in their home clash with Watford on Wednesday night.

Sam Allardyce made three changes to the side that won so impressively at Cardiff city on Sunday. Ricardo Vaz Te, Jack Collison and Henri Lansbury were with replaced by Matthew Taylor, who returned after serving his three match suspension, Julien Faubert, returning to the side after missing the trip to Wales because of a virus, and Carlton Cole to partner Nicky Maynard upfront.

The Hammers almost made the perfect start to the match. In the opening minute Matthew Taylor tried an effort from 35 yards out but unfortunately it was a little to high and smacked the crossbar.

Although in the twelfth minute Taylor looked to have set up Faubert for a chance which the Frenchman couldn't connect, the first real chance occurred on 37 minutes when Cole played a superb reverse pass into Mark Noble's feet but as he put the shot in Tomaz Kuszczak was equal to it. Then just a minute later, from Taylor's freekick, James Tomkins tried to cut the ball back across the face of goal but there wasn't a claret and blue shirt in sight to finish the chance off.

The half ended with Watford having created the better chances, although the home side did have an initial spell of pressure when the game first got underway.

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The second half started with West Ham applying the initial pressure in the opening stages. There then followed a stoppage of 8 minutes due to an injury sustained by Watford's Dale Bennett as he collided with teammate John Eustace. Bennett was eventually taken off the pitch on a stretcher and taken to hospital. Thankfully Bennett's injury was not serious as he had only suffered concussion.

On 62 minutes, as the action restarted, Allardyce made a change replacing Maynard with Sam Baldock.

Just as Robert Green had saved superbly from Eustace's well struck shot, on 68 minutes, given the result and performance at Cardiff, the large contingent of home supporters saw just what they didn't want to see - a Watford goal. Sean Murray shot from the edge of the penalty area and the ball bounced beyond Green and into the net.

It was then West Ham's turn to try and test Kuszczak and on 74 minutes Faubert had a great chance to do just that after a great run from Baldock had set him up, but unfortunately the Frenchman lashed at the ball and it went over the bar.

After seeing that his side had not really got into the game up until this point, Big Sam decided to make changes replacing Joey O'Brien with Henri Lansbury and Taylor with Vaz Te. Taylor's exit was greeted with a loud chorus of boos.

On 84 minutes Watford came ever so close to adding a 2nd when Lansbury last control of the ball and Eustace tried a Taylor by shooting from 35 yards but, this time it hit the poll that holds up the net rather than going over the line into it.

Three minutes later Noble won a corner which finally resulted in an equaliser for the East Londoners. Cole missed an overhead effort before the ball found Vaz Te, who slammed the ball in with a deflection off the base of the post to cheers from the home faithful. There was still enough time to find a winner because of the large amount of stoppage time there was about to be added on.

Almost immediately West Ham had another effort but Cole's header took another deflection and it was easy for a Kuszczak to tip over the crossbar.

Despite late West Ham pressure, try as they might, they just could not find a winner.

The final whistle blew meaning that West Ham's hopes of making it 9 points out of 9 for the week and also their chance to overtake the Saints at the top of the league had gone. They can still make it a good end to a week if they win when Doncaster Rovers arrive in East London on Saturday afternoon.

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