Hammers are becoming draw specialists!
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 11 Jan 2015 12:39:00
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Swansea City and West Ham United are now level on points but the Hammers remain seventh after a 1-1 draw at The Liberty Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Assistant manager Neil McDonald took charge of the team for the trip to Wales, as Sam Allardyce had come down with a chest infection in the week.

The team showed two changes from Tuesday's draw at Goodison Park. James Tomkins recovered from an ankle injury to come into a back five which also included James Collins, Aaron Cresswell and Carl Jenkinson, as well as the ever consistent Winston Reid. Andy Carroll returned from a minor foot injury to partner Enner Valencia upfront.

The home side started brightly and could have gone ahead in the early stages when a good passing move saw the ball fall to Bafétimbi Gomis, who couldn't quite direct his header into the net.

Good team play fashioned the first real chance for The Irons on 22 minutes, but unfortunately Carl Jenkinson was unable to beat Lukaz Fabianski.

Two minutes later, Carroll combined with captain Kevin Nolan to great effect again but the midfielder just cleared the crossbar with his effort.

Swansea went close to opening the scoring but despite promising the East Londoners under pressure, Gylfi Sigurdsson fired straight at Adrian.

With two minutes of time still to play in the first-half, the Hammers scored their first ever goal at The Liberty Stadium as Andy Carroll produced a thunderous strike which flew past Fabianski and into the net.

Swansea tried to respond immediately but Jenkinson produced great defensive work to deny Wayne Routledge and the visitors kept the lead as the two teams left the pitch for the half-time break.

As they did right at the end of the first-half, Garry Monk's side tried to level the scores but Sigurdsson's ambitious freekick was well saved by Adrian.

The Hammers had the chance to double their lead on 55 minutes, when Jenkinson set up Carroll perfectly but the striker was unable to find the killer touch and the opportunity had been wasted.

Collins was next to go close three minutes later, but he couldn't claim his second goal in a week, as the ball was sent over the bar.

Valencia went on a surging run for the visitors on 70 minutes, but saw his effort blocked. That was the strikers final contribution as McDonald then changed formation and replaced him with Morgan Amalfitano.

That decision was inevitably going to come back to haunt the East Londoners and it did just that on 73 minutes, when Tomkins jumped highest to head the ball behind and in the meantime Collins got hurt and went off to receive treatment. From the resulting corner Swansea were level, as Nolan was shrugged off the ball by Gomis, whose shot came back off the post but took a huge deflection off Mark Noble and ended up in the back of the net.

The Irons had further chances to go back in front, but were unable to make the most of them and on 81 minutes, the skipper was brought off and Diego Poyet take his place.

The East Londoners kept up the pressure and nearly grabbed the lead again just two minutes later, but Stewart Downing's curling effort went narrowly wide of the post.

West Ham were still pushing for a winner and went close again through Jenkinson but Fabianski was able to city tip the ball behind to safety.

There was still four minutes of normal time to play another spell of pressure from the visitors unfortunately ended, as Neil Taylor blocked a goal bound header from Tomkins on the line.

The relentless pressure was not about to die down, as yet again the Hammers went close when Aaron Cresswell's perfect cross was met by Carroll. When Fabianski fumbled the effort, the away end rose but when the striker reacted he just couldn't get enough on the ball to force it home.

Four minutes of time were added on at the end of the game but a winner wasn't found and West Ham were content having secured their second successive draw.

Big Sam will hope to return to the dugout, as the Hammers look to progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup by knocking out Everton at Upton Park on Tuesday night.

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