Allardyce finds enough in reserve to hold Albion

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The Independent Online

The four November victories that enabled Steve Clarke to pick up his first manager of the month award look increasingly valuable after a solid West Ham took a point from The Hawthorns yesterday to leave the West Bromwich manager to ponder a four-match run without a win.

Since they followed a home success against Chelsea with a thumping win at Sunderland, Clarke's run has been stalled by defeats at Swansea and Arsenal either side of a home loss to Stoke and now another home performance without a goal.

After a drab first half in which the best chances fell to West Ham, Albion found a higher gear after the break but still could not find a way through a staunch rearguard effort, led by Winston Reid at the heart of the visitors' defence.

James Morrison went closest for Albion, hitting the woodwork with a header from Chris Brunt's corner 16 minutes from time, but there were other opportunities that slipped away from the home side on a frustrating afternoon for Clarke, right.

Sam Allardyce, his West Ham counterpart, viewed the point as well won, given the length of his injury list.

West Ham were without six first-team players – seven if summer signing Alou Diarra is included. After losing midfielder Mohamed Diamé, who is facing a long lay-off with a hamstring injury sustained against Liverpool last week, and full-back George McCartney, whose knee ligament injury in training required the right-footed Joey O'Brien to fill in at left-back, Allardyce could find only six players to name as substitutes.

"In situations like this you worry as a manager about whether your team will be able to hold out," he said. "The players who are missing include all our of flair players and we did not create as much as we wanted but our defensive qualities were exceptionally good. We frustrated West Brom, who had little or no clear-cut chances and that is credit to our players."

Clarke decided to tinker with his side's system, beginning with a 4-4-2 that he abandoned at half-time, switching back to his regular 4-2-3-1 after the break.

It sparked a significant improvement after a first half in which Albion looked flat, even tired at times, but not enough, in Clarke's view, to merit three points against the club he used to coach.

"There were a number of positives in that we stopped the run of defeats and we kept a clean sheet but I didn't think we did quite enough to win the game," he said.