Hammers Bounce Back With Baggies Point
By Tom Dowsett
Monday 17 Dec 2012 13:15:00
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West Ham United bounced back from last weekend's 3-2 home defeat by Liverpool by drawing 0-0 at the Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion, the team managed by the Hammers' former assistant boss Steve Clarke.

Captain Kevin Nolan made his 500th career appearance in a side that showed only one change from the team that took to the Upton Park turf seven days earlier with Gary O'Neil taking the place of Mohamed Diame in midfield. Guy Demel, who was substituted at half time last week had recovered from a slight strain and started in the absence of fellow defender George McCartney.

Although both teams had started the game well, it was the visitors who has made the better chances in the opening stages. Evidence of this was shown with only five minutes gone, when Mark Noble worked a clever ball to Carlton Cole who crossed and Matthew Taylor got up and headed towards goal but the effort missed the angle by a couple of yards.

The teams seemed to be evenly matched and the game was end to end, but on the half-hour mark the home side looked to have a chance when Joey O'Brien was booked and West Brom were awarded a free kick. However Jussi Jaaskelainen, who has made a comfortable catch minutes earlier, caught this effort with no problems.

Two minutes later West Ham came closest to opening the scoring. Woble lifted a corner kick, James Collins headed the ball on and Winston Reid's strong header somehow cleared the crossbar. That was West Ham's best chance of the half.

On 36 minutes the home side had a lucky escape as Cole won the ball from Youssuf Mulumbu and tried a 25 yard effort which goalkeeper Boaz Myhill could only parry into the penalty area where Nolan was standing but the ball missed him and the danger was averted.

As the game entered one minute of stoppage time before the break, the Hammers had a great chance when O'Brien threaded a ball round Jonas Olsson, aiming to find Cole but it was just too strong. Just before referee Phil Dowd brought an end to proceedings, a handball decision was given against the home side. Noble swung the resulting freekick into the box but it was easily cleared and the half was brought to an end with neither side able having made a breakthrough.

The 2nd half started with a succession of corners for the Baggies and throw-ins for West Ham, which came to nothing. On 50 minutes the Hammers looked as if they'd add to the scoresheet when Demel took another throw which found Matt Jarvis, who in turn found O'Neill but his curling effort just eluded the top corner.

On the hour mark, Demel regained possession and O'Neil cleared to safety. Cole was then fouled, earning his side a freekick which Noble lifted in towards Reid but unfortunately he was outjumped.

Seven minutes later, Joey O'Brien was inches away from grabbing his second goal for the club, when a great team move started by Cole was passed to Taylor who was fouled. It was once again time for Noble to send the set piece over and O'Brien tried to connect but the effort went wide again.

The home side nearly broke the deadlock on 74 minutes when James Morrison's effort from Chris Brunt's corner thudded against the crossbar and Big Sam's men survived.

With fifteen minutes of normal time still to play, both teams made substitutions. Albion replaced Zoltan Gera with Romelu Lukaku, while Sam Allardyce replaced Jarvis with Modibo Maiga and six minutes later, James Tomkins was brought on to replace Demel.

There were still chances at both ends before the result was confirmed, the best of which fell to the Hammers on 91 minutes when Jaaskelainen launched the ball forward and Cole battled for possession with Olsson. The ball dropped to Cole who swung a boot at it, but Myhill was there to claim.

In the end, the Hammers were glad to have left the Hawthorns with a point and, seeing as they had to deal with a few injuries, they were also delighted to have kept a clean sheet. The point means they remain in 11th place heading into Saturday's home clash with Everton.

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