Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Match Report:West Ham 1 Everton 1


West Ham United remain in the Premier League relegation zone after they were held to a draw by Everton at Upton Park.
Avram Grant's side hoped to build on their Boxing Day win at Fulham and took an early lead when Everton defender Tony Hibbert turned into his own net for the second successive season at West Ham.
David Moyes's side responded in spirited fashion and fully deserved the equaliser that came from Irish youngster Seamus Coleman three minutes before the interval when he converted Tim Cahill's cross.
Both sides then had opportunities to claim three points as West Ham substitute Carlton Cole wasted a glorious opportunity and Hammers keeper Robert Green saved well from Cahill and Marouane Fellaini late on.
Grant will ultimately be satisfied with a point against an Everton team coming into the game off the back of an outstanding win at Manchester City and who were also rested after their Boxing Day game against Birmingham City at Goodison Park was the victim of the big freeze.
West Ham's boss has now completed the three games that were believed to be crucial in deciding his future and has hauled in five points - which he will hope is enough for him to be entrusted with the task of freshening up his squad in January.
Everton boss Moyes will once again curse his side's desperate lack of cutting edge as they failed to turn the majority of possession to goals. And his lack of faith in his strike force was betrayed by the decision to play Cahill up front and leave Yakubu, Jermaine Beckford and Louis Saha on the bench at the start.
Cole's reward for his match-winning two-goal performance at Craven Cottage was relegation to the bench while Everton suffered a blow when England defender Phil Jagielka was ruled out with a thigh injury suffered at Eastlands.
Everton settled more quickly and Sylvain Distin was let down by poor control when presented with a good early chance, his first touch making his angle too tight before he shot across the face of goal.
It was West Ham who took the lead after 16 minutes in scrappy circumstances. Everton keeper Tim Howard could only push out James Tomkins' header as captain Phil Neville appeared to obscure his view and when Kovac turned the ball back in Hibbert unwittingly diverted the ball into his own net.
West Ham enjoyed a brief period of superiority, but Everton's composed approach play deserved a reward and it came with an equaliser three minutes before the interval.
Mikel Arteta, back after a three-game ban, found Cahill in space on the left and his accurate cross to the far post was met by the unmarked Coleman, who had no trouble beating Green with an accomplished finish.
Scott Parker, as ever, was the architect of most of West Ham's good work and he almost restored their lead immediately with a delicate chip that caught Howard off his line but drifted just over the top.
West Ham, who lost Herita Ilunga to injury in the first half, made another change after 56 minutes when striker Cole was introduced in place of Frederic Piquionne.
Everton made a change of their own just after the hour when Yakubu, a summer transfer target for West Ham, replaced Jack Rodwell as Moyes opted for a move positive approach.
West Ham then created the best opportunity of the second half when Freddie Sears picked out Cole at the far post, but the sure touch he showed at Fulham deserted him and he directed a tame finish off target with only Howard to beat.
Everton's shortage of goals has been their Achilles heel this season as they have developed an over-reliance on Cahill. The Australian almost did the trick again with 11 minutes left with a close-range effort that brought Green to his knees to save.
Green followed this up with a reaction save from the giant figure of Fellaini as the Belgian directed Leighton Baines' corner towards goal.
It was the final opportunity of the game as both managers were forced to settle for a share of the points.

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