Hammers Held to Draw by Villans
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 27 Dec 2015 12:38:00
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Following a third consecutive goalless draw against Swansea City last weekend, West Ham United picked up another point with a 1-1 draw against rock bottom Aston Villa on Boxing Day. 

Slaven Bilic made two changes from the team that faced the Swans, as Alex Song dropped to the bench in favour of Pedro Obiang while Enner Valencia replaced Nikica Jelavic to make his first league start of the season.

When the game got underway  the visitors had an early chance as Mauro Zarate's corner was cut out by Brad Guzan to deny James Tomkins a header.

Tomkins was in the wars only minutes later when he suffered a heavy blow to the head leaving him needing to be taken off for treatment and returning several minutes later heavily bandaged.

While the Hammers were down to ten men they still applied pressure and went close again when Cheikou Kouyate headed Zarate's corner wide.

As the game settled, the hosts began to exert a sustained period of pressure starting with a Rudy Gestede effort going narrowly past the post.

On 25 minutes Zarate thought he had found a way through but Guzan managed to tip his effort around the post.

On 29 minutes the hosts had a great chance when Leandro Bacuna sent a powerful effort towards goal which Adrian initially beat away but Gestede's attempted follow-up header was weak and the goalkeeper claimed easily.

West Ham grabbed the advantage in first-half stoppage time, as Michail Antonio picked out Aaron Cresswell who sent a rocket flying into the top corner and the travelling fans finally had something to celebrate.

Despite the scoreline at half time it wasn't all good news for Bilic, as he had to replace Tomkins with Carl Jenkinson during the break.

The Hammers were put under  immediate pressure and on 50 minutes, Gestede headed over when he should have at least hit the target.

Just seconds after Guzan had comfortably claimed Zarate's freekick, Adrian had to make a great save at the other end from Jordan Veretout.

On 62 minutes, Villa were awarded a penalty after Angelo Ogbonna was adjudged to have fouled Gestede. It was left to Jordan Ayew to stylishly slam the ball into the roof of the net to equalise.

The away support thought referee Mike Dean should have awarded another penalty soon after, as Bacuna appeared to stop Mark Noble's goal-bound volley with his hand but nothing was given.

Minutes later the Hammers survived going behind, as James Collins headed Alan Hutton's effort off the line.

During the break in play, Cresswell, who had appeared to pick up a hamstring problem, was replaced by Song and on 86 minutes Bilic  brought on Reece Oxford for Zarate.

West Ham had a chance to clinch all three points in the final minute of the five allowed for stoppages but Guzan saved well from Valencia.

The Hammers had to settle for their fifth successive draw and they now head into a run of three straight home games, starting with the visit of Southampton on Monday evening.

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