Football: Hammers' resolve earns replay

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The Independent Online
By Glenn Moore

Arsenal 1 West Ham United 1

GOOD OLD West Ham, they used to be everybody's second favourite club, pretty to watch and easy to beat, especially away from Upton Park.

No longer. This FA Cup quarter-final was more the Alamo than the Arsenal with the Gunners pounding away most of the match and camped in the Hammers' half for the last 30 minutes. But, apart from a momentary aberration when Ian Pearce tripped Martin Keown to concede a penalty, West Ham never flinched and never cracked.

They came, inevitably, given the absence of John Hartson, Paul Kitson and Trevor Sinclair, for a draw. Thanks to Pearce's 13th-minute goal, they got one, earning themselves a home replay tomorrow week for the chance to meet Wolves in the semi-final.

Arsenal, for whom Dennis Bergkamp scored a 27th-minute spot-kick, will argue that they deserved a victory but, for all their dominance, they created very little from open play and Bernard Lama was equal to everything except the penalty.

In front of him Pearce and Rio Ferdinand gave no indication of the injuries which, said Harry Redknapp, had forced them to miss a week's training, nor did Steve Lomas who, like Pearce, required a pre-match injection. Lomas, flanked by John Moncur and Frank Lampard formed a midfield barrier which Arsenal, for all Ray Parlour's endeavour and imagination, rarely penetrated. In attack Samassi Abou ran and ran without ever threatening the commanding Martin Keown.

"We've a young team with excellent spirit. They work, graft and are full of running," said Redknapp, who played in a Hammers side that rarely met the latter part of that description.

Redknapp said he was "down to the bare bones" and struggling to raise a team for Manchester United's visit on Wednesday. West Ham will, however, have the suspended Hartson back for the replay.

Arsenal may have Ian Wright back by then, if not for Saturday morning's trip to Old Trafford. This was their third home cup draw and Arsene Wenger said: "West Ham did what everyone else has, defended and looked to attack on the break. Another game is bad as the championship is the most important competition and it undermines our chances, but we are still in the Cup."

Arsenal were seeking to reach their third FA Cup semi-final in eight years, West Ham seeking their second in 19 years since defeating Arsenal in the 1980 final.

A better precedent for those with faith in cup omens was the sixth-round meeting on the same ground 23 years earlier to the very day when Alan Taylor's brace earned West Ham a 2-0 win.

History seemed to count for nothing in the early stages as Arsenal, lifted by the return of Bergkamp, pressed forward with optimism. In the opening minute Steve Potts, having been lucky to avoid a booking for hauling back Parlour, almost suffered a greater penalty as Bergkamp curled the free- kick towards the top corner. Lama, leaping as if in rubber boots, turned the kick over.

West Ham seemed impotent but, after 13 minutes, they won a corner which was allowed to run across the area to be lashed in by Pearce. Eyal Berkovitch should have doubled the lead 14 minutes later but, after Stan Lazaridis had run 70 yards to the left flank byline and crossed, he trod on the ball.

Ten minutes later Pearce tripped Keown and Bergkamp levelled. Bergkamp shot over and Emmanuel Petit tested Lama either side of the break before West Ham had another attacking flurry with Berkovitch and Abou shooting wide.

From then on it was all Arsenal but Lama held everything, notably another Bergkamp free-kick. Arsenal's frustration boiled over at the final whistle as Patrick Vieira, provoked by Moncur, lashed out with fist and foot. He made no real contact and is likely to avoid censure as it was behind the back of the admirable referee Mike Reed. Wenger said he may fine the player after looking at the video but, judging by his talk of Vieira being victimised, that is unlikely.

Goals: Pearce 0-1 (13); Bergkamp pen (27) 1-1.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Manninger; Dixon, Keown, Adams, Winterburn; Parlour, Vieira, Petit, Overmars; Bergkamp, Anelka (Wreh, 67). Substitutes not used: Garde, Upson, Hughes, Lukic (gk).

West Ham United (3-5-1-1): Lama; Potts, Ferdinand, Pearce; Impey, Lomas, Moncur, Lampard, Lazaridis; Berkovic (Hodges, 77); Abou. Substitutes not used: Bishop, Mean, Coyne, Sealey (gk).

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).

Bookings: West Ham: Potts, Lomas, Lampard.

Man of the match: Lomas.

Attendance: 38,077.