Monday, 20 December 2010

Blackburn Rovers 1 West Ham 1

Junior Stanislas scored late in the second half to rescue a point for West Ham against Blackburn at Ewood Park.
Early on, Morten Gamst Pedersen's free-kick was the best Rovers managed, while Paul Robinson denied Luis Boa Morte.
Ryan Nelsen nudged the opener with his knee, beating Hammers debutant keeper Ruud Boffin at the second attempt.
West Ham were denied an equaliser when Matthew Upson's shot hit the post but Stanislas curled in a low effort to earn his side a reprieve.
Both teams came into the game off the back of a destabilising week. Hammers boss Avram Grant had been reportedly told he must win one of his side's next three games to avoid being sacked, while Rovers dismissed manager Sam Allardyce on Monday and put Steve Kean in temporary charge.

Ironically, there have been suggestions that Allardyce is waiting in the wings to replace Grant - but on the evidence of the Hammers' performance at Ewood Park, the job may not become available for a while.

The Londoners fought back gamely late on and with better delivery in the final third they might have even sneaked a win, which would have been their first on the road since August 2009.
But in a game largely short on action to help excite and warm the freezing crowd, a draw seemed a fair result.

It was understandable that the visitors would concentrate on defence and on protecting their fourth-choice keeper Boffin, who had previously played only three times for the reserves.
The Londoners also suffered a blow before kick-off when Valon Behrami injured himself in the warm-up.However, the lack of ambition shown in the first half by a side desperate to lift themselves off the foot of the table did not bode well.

With only one other fixture surviving the weather, West Ham could have leapfrogged Wolves with a win - and possibly helped Grant save his job in the process.

They managed to fashion two chances of any note, but Frederic Piquionne fired into the side netting and Boa Morte's low shot was kept out at the near post by Robinson's legs.
Rovers fared no better, with only a curling Pedersen free-kick testing the inexperienced Boffin, who was able to enjoy a pressure-free opening 45 minutes.
But after the break the young Belgian was soon picking the ball out of the net, though he will feel a little unfortunate not to have kept a clean sheet.

His point-blank save to keep out Nelsen's shot deserved better than for the ball to find its way past him via the knee of the Rovers defender as he swung his leg in hope.
The goal seemed to stir the visitors into action and for the first time in the match they began to dictate the play.
And they came agonisingly close to an equaliser when Upson's low shot, following Stanislas's cross, cannoned off the foot of the post.
Soon after they deservedly restored parity when Scott Parker embarked on a mazy run and Stanislas finished off the move with a curling shot into the bottom corner.
It was a blow for Blackburn, who had lost Jason Roberts to a hamstring injury early on and then saw Christopher Samba and his replacement Phil Jones also go off injured, but they would have restored their lead had Nelsen not been penalised for a foul in the box before David Dunn's flick in.
West Ham also pushed for a winner but let themselves down with poor crossing when they had players well placed. The result means West Ham pick up their 13th point of the season - but Grant may now have only two games left to save himself.

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