Sam Allardyce spent January adding strikers to his West Ham squad, just as in August, but still he fears that he lacks the firepower to secure automatic promotion in May. This game was a case in point. Chances were created, chances were spurned and in the end it was down to Ricardo Vaz Te, a substitute, to score the late equaliser that stopped Watford taking all three points.
Southampton are top, a point ahead of the Hammers, and Allardyce wishes his squad contained the equivalent of Saints' Rickie Lambert. "It all boils down to sticking the ball in the net," the manager said. "If we had Lambert in our team we would have won the title already. "We haven't got a anybody with 10 yet."
At least Vaz Te found the net, from 12 yards and off a post, just as Watford's teenage winger Sean Murray had at the other end in the 68th minute.
Sean Dyche, the Watford manager, was convinced that the home side's goal should not have been allowed.
"It should have been a free-kick for an overhead kick to the head by Carlton Cole in the build-up," he said. "Anywhere else on the pitch and it would have been a foul."
Allardyce countered that fortune had favoured the Hornets with their goal. Murray's shot beat the Hammers' goalkeeper, Robert Green, from a tight angle on the right. Replays indicated a deflection off Abdoulaye Faye.
"It was going nowhere until it was deflected," Allardyce said, "and when it went in I thought it was going to be one of those nights. Fair play to the lads, they got back into a winning position."
Allardyce admitted that his side's home form was poor. "It is very frustrating," he said. "We haven't shown nearly enough quality in the chances we created and nearly paid the price for it. We just can't find the cutting edge here at Upton Park. The chances we had and missed were disappointing. We nearly ended up losing this one.
"If we had won we would have been where we wanted to be but now we have dropped behind again. The most important thing is two points a game because I know what that gives us – automatic promotion."
A point was bittersweet for Dyche, not least because of an injury suffered by the defender Dale Bennett, who had to be carried off with his neck in a brace after receiving lengthy treatment on the pitch, early in the second half.
"He has gone to hospital and we are waiting for feedback," Dyche said. "We have been told it might not be as bad as it looked."
West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; O'Brien ( Lansbury, 74), Faye, Tomkins, McCartney; Faubert, Noble, Nolan, Matt Taylor (Vaz Te, 74); Maynard (Baldock, 62), Cole. Substitutes not used Boffin (gk), O'Neil.
Watford (4-4-2): Kuszczak; Doyley, Mariappa, Bennett (Martin Taylor, 58), Dickinson; Murray (Buaben, 88), Eustace, Hogg, Kacaniklic; Deeney, Iwelumo. Substitutes not used Loach (gk), Trotta, Garner.
Referee K Stroud (Hampshire).Reuse content