Not since September, when Newcastle took the spoils, have any visitors departed Upton Park with profit. When West Ham took an early lead and again when they restored it at the start of the second half, it seemed as though the status quo would prevail. But Everton, a side transformed, not only came back each time but played in a positive fashion, their line admirably led by Duncan Ferguson, and might have secured a victory.
The rare draw coincided with the West Ham debut of Trevor Sinclair after his pounds 3m transfer from Queen's Park Rangers. Not that he was at all culpable. Quite the reverse, since he was not only busily involved throughout but got both his new side's goals. The first, after a mere nine minutes in his new shirt, thus lent credence to the theory that a change of clubs can revive flagging careers.
Showing no apprehension after a warm welcome, there had been an early foray down the left which came to nothing before West Ham won a corner. Eyal Berkovitch's centre to the near post was neat enough that Sinclair was neither challenged nor hindered in heading in from close range.
Everton replied within 15 minutes. John O'Kane crossed to Ferguson and his header across the box left the defence stranded. Nick Barmby had the sort of space enjoyed by Sinclair previously to finish the job.
Sinclair's second illustrated his skills perfectly. He went on a dribbling run, beating two defenders before exchanging passes with Berkovitch and drilling a low, right-foot shot past Thomas Myhre.
Yet once more Everton were level before too long. Rio Ferdinand had already made a misjudgement by giving the ball to Ferguson when attempting to clear, but had his embarrassment spared by Craig Forrest's alert point- blank save. Perhaps he was still dwelling on this a minute later when Gareth Farrelly's cross came over from the left. He made porridge of his clearance and Mickael Madar was the lucky beneficiary.
Still maybe West Ham's manager, Harry Redknapp, had the right perspective when he pointed out later that mistakes could often be found but what a boring game it would be if there were goalless draws every week.
With the prolific John Hartson for once having lost his location-finder near goal, Everton posed the greater threat as the match wore on. Ferguson was tireless and he was helped by a packed midfield without Gary Speed, who was missing because he refused to play. Everton did not miss him.Reuse content