Great Expectations Not Met!
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 31 Jan 2010 19:57:00
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Expectations were high at Upton Park ahead of Saturday's visit of Blackburn Rovers. Not only because it was the first home league game of 2010, following the postponement of the Wolves match, but also the first home game under the new regime of David Sullivan and David Gold.

That said West Ham United ended up having to battle to earn a point in a goalless draw.

Manager Gianfranco Zola named the same side that started at Portsmouth on Tuesday night and the Hammers started in much the same way as they did at Fratton Park. They dominated the opening exchanges and came close to breaking the deadlock after just eight minutes when Julien Faubert whipped in a teasing cross which Valon Behrami just failed to meaningfully connect with.

After 14 minutes Faubert repeated the trick and this time it was Radoslav Kovac who failed to make the telling contact.

After this promising start the game became increasingly scrappy as the Blackburn defence started to tighten up. West Ham's inexperienced forward-line found it tough to make any real impact.

At the other end, the visitors came close to opening the scoring just before half-time when Morten Gampst -Pedersen saw his free-kick rebound from the top of the bar.

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The second half continued in much the same way as the first had finished; scrappy, determined but lacking the quality required. To address this on 59 mins Zola introduced Carlton Cole in place of Kovac to strengthen the attacking options and replaced the hard-working Behrami 11 mins later with Scott Parker.

This heralded the best entertainment of the match as West Ham pushed forward looking for a winner. Unfortunately Blackburn sensed that this change of Hammer's formation might be their opportunity to grab all the points.

Robert Green produced a top-draw save to deny Pedersen's goal bound shot. From the resulting corner Carlton Cole hooked away Gail Givet's effort off the goal-line.

Jason Roberts, introduced as a 71st minute change for Nicola Kalinic, created the best opportunity of the game and then wasted it, when he pushed his way past James Tomkins but gave Green the opportunity to save well.

Freddie Sears was introduced as West Ham's final substitute, replacing Frank Nouble on 80 mins. 5 minutes from time he linked up well with Parker down the left but Parker's low drive across the six yard box failed to find a finisher.

The point moves West Ham up to 15th position in the table but with just a point separating them from the four clubs immediately below , next Saturday's trip to Burnley is crucial in the battle for survival.

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