Premier League - West Ham stay bottom after draw
Sat, 13 Nov 17:02:00 2010
An incredible match at Upton Park saw West Ham and Blackpool play out a 0-0 Premier League draw amid controversy and a host of missed chances.
The Hammers had two penalty claims turned down in the first half after Pablo Barrera went to ground under Stephen Crainey’s challenge before Craig Cathcart blocked Victor Obinna’s point-blank effort with an arm.
Former West Ham man Marlon Harewood had what looked like a good goal ruled out for offside, but was guilty of a glaring miss from a matter of yards as the teams shared the spoils.
The result means Avram Grant’s side have still not won since beating Tottenham in late-September and remain at the foot of the Premier League.
In a fixture that both managers would have seen as an opportunity to cook up three points, the fixture was given extra spice by events off the pitch.
With only one win all season, West Ham boss Grant was already feeling the pressure before co-owner David Sullivan went on record as expecting seven points from four matches.
Two draws from two of those matches did little to raise expectations in east London, prior to the Seasiders’ visit, but Blackpool boss, Ian Holloway, had problems of his own as the Premier League announced they would investigate after Holloway made 10 changes for the narrow 3-2 midweek defeat at Aston Villa.
The outspoken manager has threatened to quit if found guilty of fielding a weakened team, but despite his protestations that the side was picked to win at Villa Park, Holloway incredibly changed his entire starting XI.
But it was the struggling Hammers who came closest to striking first when Herita Ilunga’s ball across the box just eluded the following Luis Boa Morte.
The Seasiders’ Elliott Grandin should then have done better from David Vaughan's cross only to head wide, before Mark Noble and DJ Campbell both fired off target.
Frederic Piquionne had a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring on 12 minutes only to scuff his shot at the vital moment and Danny Gabbidon headed over from a good position minutes later as the Hammers pressed.
Barrera replaced the luckless Kieron Dyer early on, and when the Mexican tumbled over Crainey’s clumsy challenge in the box, referee Kevin Friend waved away the hosts’ strident penalty demands.
Piquionne again was guilty of a glaring miss when his diving header flew wide and Vaughan almost made him pay when his shot fizzed wide of Robert Green’s near post.
Friend was again at the centre of controversy when Obinna’s point-blank effort flew off Cathcart’s hand, but again the official refused to point to the spot.
And it was Blackpool who almost had the final word when Vaughan beat Matthew Upson only to drag his shot wide to end a frantic 45 minutes.
Blackpool lost keeper Matthew Gilks at half time and Boa Morte almost beat sub Richard Kingson immediately after the restart with a shot that went inches wide.
Charlie Adam had both sets of fans on their feet when he tried an amazing audacious chip from just inside the West Ham half and Green was mighty relieved to see the ball drift over the top.
Obinna again missed the target from Piquionne’s cut back, before the half came to life in a frantic four minute spell.
Eardley’s corner was only cleared as far as Vaughan. His volley was blocked but as the ball fell to Harewood, he stabbed it home only to be denied by the offside flag, despite replays suggesting the Blackpool man was onside.
Barerra then saw his effort cleared off the line by Ian Evatt, before Boa Morte’s replacement, Carlton Cole, hit the upright from yards out under pressure from the same player.
As the Hammers scented blood, Kingson’s outstretched foot was enough to deny Obinna, while at the other end, Gary Taylor-Fletcher smashed the ball over the bar from the edge of the six-yard box.
Kingson pulled off another remarkable save on 79 minutes to palm away Noble’s curler, but it was Harewood who should have sealed the points four minutes later.
Luke Varney’s cut back found Crainey and as the Seasider scuffed his shot, the ball fell kindly to Harewood, who somehow failed to find the target.
As the clock ticked down, Green made the stop of the match when he somehow saved Cathcart’s close range bullet, but it was Barerra who almost had the final say with an off-target effort deep in stoppage time as Scott Parker waited in vain for the pass.
The draw sees the Hammers go level on points with Wolves at the bottom but Sullivan’s target is now beyond the Londoners.
If the co-owner ‘shuffles his pack’ as promised, it remains to be seen whether Grant will be part of the deck.Ian Hare / Eurosport