Manchester City should have had a penalty in the first half, West Ham might have had one in the last minute, but in the end they headed off for what had always looked the likeliest outcome, a replay a week on Wednesday.
West Ham's escape, courtesy of referee Rob Styles, came in the 17th minute. Martin Petrov, the scourge of the Hammers throughout, burst past Lucas Neill and cut into the box but as he darted inside Anton Ferdinand he was felled by a waist-high tackle. Even that mildest of managers, Sven Goran Eriksson, pronounced his side "unlucky, because it was a penalty," adding, "but hopefully we will get one at home." Fortunately for West Ham, Mr Styles saw nothing wrong.
City's piece of luck, a more debatable affair, came as Carlton Cole leapt for a corner and his marker, Vedran Corluka, appeared to lift an arm to the ball but home complaints were muted by this depressing stage.
West Ham gambled on a double-dreadnought shape, Cole and Dean Ashton paired up front, in a bid to force a result against opponents who won here on the opening day of the league season and have prospered ever since.
Though Cole won many of his aerial challenges and Ashton is astute at getting in front of his markers, they created little between them until, seven minutes from the end, Ashton's header brought Joe Hart to a brilliant save and produced praise from his manager, describing him as: "One of the great goalkeeping talents of this country."
West Ham's injury list remains long and manager Alan Curbishley was forced to bring in John Pantsil as a midfielder. Neill's departure at half-time came as a further blow, though it was reported as nothing more worrying than a tight hamstring, possibly incurred as a result of the chasing he was getting from Petrov.
It was illness, rather than injury, which removed the Brazilian Elano from City's squad. His debut replacement was Nery Castillo, the Mexican who helped to pay the costs of his own move from Shakhtar Donetsk. Keen to impress, he chased around manically in the opening minutes and over-eagerness spoilt his volley from a Petrov cross.
Another centre from the Bulgarian deflected to the feet of Stephen Ireland beyond the far post and though his rising shot was perfectly struck Robert Green arched to turn it over. Three minutes later West Ham put in their best effort. Matthew Etherington's low drive was heading inside the near post until Hart turned it away.
The City keeper did almost as well in repelling Mark Noble's free-kick, but City had much the better of the first half and when Darius Vassell, collecting a glorious ball from Dietmar Hamann, fell beneath Ferdinand's challenge, there were more penalty appeals, though with less conviction than the first.
City continued to run the show on the resumption, Green repelled an Ireland volley and then needed to react quickly to an under-hit back-header from the newly-arrived Jonathan Spector.
There was a potential worrying moment for City when Richard Dunne, their defensive tower, went off to have stitches inserted in a mouth wound, but he was soon back in the thick of it as West Ham upped the pace and began to threaten.
Once Cole, collecting a lucky rebound unwisely opted for a shot which skewed woefully wide rather than attempting to play Ashton in, but the next time they combined it was Ashton's failure to control which spoiled the chance. Still Petrov tormented Hammers, one tantalising cross bouncing off the crossbar and back into play as the crowd settled for the first no-goal draw at Upton Park in more than 18 months.
Curbishley was phlegmatic: "A tough old game which never really lifted off," was his verdict. As for that late, late penalty shout, the manager said: "The players are saying they thought it was hand ball but I think Styles was on the other side of the box."
But he was full of praise for the way his side battled. "I keep saying it every week, I can't ask for any more from my players."
Except, possibly, a win in the replay, because West Ham have not lost in the third round of the Cup for eight years.Reuse content