Premier League - West Ham deny West Brom
West Ham sensationally come back from three goals down to earn a hard-fought 3-3 draw against West Brom at the Hawthorns.
In what was a typical tale of two halves, West Ham clawed their way back into the match through a debut goal from Demba Ba, having gone into the half-time break 3-0 down. The Senegalese striker converted a floated cross from Mark Noble at the back post.
Then, to set up a nervy final 30 minutes, Carlton Cole bravely directed substitute Frederic Piquionne’s knock-down past Boaz Myhill from just a few yards out.
Ba then completed the turnaround and a dream debut in emphatic fashion in the 84th minute, smashing home at the back post following a looping Mark Noble cross.
The Baggies had initially shocked West Ham with two goals inside the opening 10 minutes. First, Graham Dorrans, who was making his return having missed the past three weeks, collected the ball from 30 yards out inside the opening three minutes and proceeded to drill it past a stricken Robert Green into the roof of the West Ham net.
Then, five minutes later, the Hammers gave away possession in the middle of the park, with Baggies striker Marc-Antoine Fortune the main beneficiary. Fortune teed up Jerome Thomas who sent a delightful curling effort past an outstretched Green and into the far corner of the goal.
To complete West Ham’s first-half misery, a Dorrans free-kick in the 32nd minute appeared to get the slightest nick off Hammers defender Winston Reid on its way past Green. That was the Baggies third and the game had looked to have been over at that stage.
Avram Grant’s men were guilty of some shambolic defending and sloppy passing throughout the first 45 minutes. It was, therefore, of little surprise that West Brom fully capitalised during these opening exchanges by storming into a two-goal lead.
It could have been even worse for the Hammers had Fortune not inadvertently blocked a goal-bound effort from West Brom winger Chris Brunt in the 7th minute and Peter Odemwingie not tamely headed into the hands of Green when unmarked from a Dorrans corner in the 18th minute.
Indeed, West Ham did not really kick into life until the 24th minute when Carlton Cole was harshly adjudged to have strayed offside from an incisive Scott Parker through-ball.
That’s not to say West Brom did not also suffer some form of indignation as, shortly before the Dorrans grabbed his second and the Baggies’ third, the Scottish midfielder sent a free-kick deep into the West Ham box which Reid appeared to control with his arm before clearing the danger.
Towards the end of the first-half , West Ham pushed men forward and were unlucky not to score with two efforts which licked the framework of the Baggies goal.
First, a Demba Ba strike in the 43rd minute was tipped onto the post by Baggies keeper Boaz Myhill and then, deep into stoppage time at the end of the half, Gary O’Neil sent a crashing drive which cannoned back off the West Brom crossbar.
This bad luck was not to deter West Ham, as the visitors came out for the second-half with renewed fighting spirit.
And they were to be rewarded in the 51st minute with Ba’s calmly controlled finish.
Moments later, Luis Boa Morte sent a diving, flicked header towards goal but Myhill used great reflexes to gather the ball on the dive.
Avram Grant then sent on Piquionne to bolster his side’s frontline and the substitute striker delivered an instant impact with his knock-down for Cole’s goal.
With West Ham’s tails up, the French striker almost grabbed West Ham’s third in the 61st minute but his headed attempt rattled Myhill’s crossbar before flying over.
West Brom were beginning to crumble under the mounting West Ham pressure and, after Ba had an effort cleared off the line in the 66th minute, the Senegalese striker grabbed his second with only six minutes left to complete a stirring fightback from the visitors.
The drama continued into injury time, as Odemwingie was guilty of two tame efforts which Green comfortably collected, as both sides pressed forward in search of a dramatic late winner.
It wasn’t to come, however, but West Ham will clearly be the happier of the two teams with this point moving them off the bottom of the Premier League table.
For new West Brom boss Roy Hodgson, who was watching from the stands, the hard work must surely begin now.