Red card proved costly as Hammers draw
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 23 Jan 2011 17:21:00
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Just like last year's result at Goodison Park, West Ham United left with a draw, but the difference on Saturday afternoon was that they went in front twice rather than having to battle back to earn the point.

Avram Grant made three changes from the home defeat by Arsenal seven days ago, Scott Parker returned in midfield, Luis Boa Morte came in and Frederic Piquionne was restored up front replacing the injured Carlton Cole.

In an open first half where Everton had the majority of possession, it was the Hammers who created the chances and fashioned more attempts on goal.

In the first minute the West Ham defence had to hold firm as James Tomkins fouled Jermaine Beckford and a free-kick was given which Leighton Baines sent in only for Piquionne to get his head into it to concede a corner.

Minutes later West Ham fashioned a good chance when Mark Noble tried to lob Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard by shooting, but the shot went just over the top of the bar.

No sooner had the visitors missed a great chance to take the lead, Everton were coming on strong again, when Boa Morte was harshly penalised for handball, Mikel Arteta curled the resulting free-kick into the box and Matthew Upson did well to head clear. However, the danger was not averted until Upson and Jonathan Spector between them scrambled the ball clear.

On 18 minutes Upson slipped the ball through to Spector who tried to play in Zavon Hines but his pass to Hines was over-hit and before the Hammers knew it Beckford was in on goal only for a superb saving tackle by Tomkins to prevent him from snatching an advantage.

Eight minutes later West Ham took the lead when Mark Noble released Boa Morte who did superbly to pull the ball back to Spector who claimed his first goal in the Premier League, 1-0 to the Hammers.

The Hammers had a great chance to double their lead on 38 minutes when, from Spector's cross, Piquionne did well to beat John Heitinga in the air. He then headed the ball down only for it to hit both posts.

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The second half started in much the same way the first did, after David Moyes had introduced Louis Saha for Beckford, Everton started strongly winning a corner which again Arteta took but it was once again cleared by Piquionne.

After last week's horror show against Arsenal, Wayne Bridge seemed to be having a better game this week as he cleared Leon Osman's deep cross just as Seamus Coleman was lurking.

On 77 minutes the West Ham defence was breached for the first time in the match, when Diniyar Bilyaletdinov pounced on another clearance to the edge of the box by Piquionne to smash the ball past Robert Green.

A minute later Everton were threatening the Hammers again as Coleman had the chance to shoot from 20 yards, but could not keep it down, but Green was worried anyway.

On 81 minutes Grant replaced Hines with Freddie Sears.

Two minutes later Piquionne receieved an yellow card for an off-the-ball incident.

Just after the booking, Everton call Green into action
again but he makes a superb save from Saha, while at the other end Spector and Parker combine well to burst into the box but the home side clear.

With five minutes to go, the Hammers took the lead again when Bridge crossed for Piquionne to head in, following a flick from Parker. The Frenchman celebrated by jumping in to the away end where the jubilant Hammers' fans were situated. He then promptly received a second yellow, which means he will miss the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final with Birmingham City on Wednesday. Grant will now face a striking dilemma with Victor Obinna already missing the match due to his suspension in the first leg. Let's hope that Cole recovers quickly.

With Grant keen to preserve his team's lead, he decides to bring on a defender for a striker. Having spent literally ten minutes on the pitch, Sears was the unfortunate one to go off as he was replaced by Winston Reid.

Just as that substitution was made and with four minutes of stoppage time being played, it's heartbreak for the Hammers as Everton equalised, when another Everton cross was not dealt with and Marouane Fellaini shoots past Green.

As the final whistle blew the Hammers may have been thinking of the game at St Andrews back in November where they had a two-goal lead only to see it disappear as Birmingham battled back to earn a point. Speaking of St Andrews, it is there the Hammers head next, as they try to book their place in the Carling Cup final at Wembley. They take a 2-1 lead into that game from the first leg.  

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