Cruel twist for Deane's pearler

West Bromwich Albion 1 West Ham United 1
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The Independent Football

West Brom remain top of the First Division, but that they also extended their unbeaten run to nine games was due to more than a little help from their opposition.

The Baggies came into this match on the back of their outstanding 2-0 home win over Manchester United in the Carling Cup last Wednesday. However, and it is not always you can say this, West Ham proved a tougher nut to crack. That was in large part to the Premiership holders fielding a third-strength team, but nevertheless West Ham were well organised, and it was only due to a slice of good fortune that Gary Megson's men were able to claim a point.

West Ham had taken a deserved lead with what was the game's outstanding strike, but Brian Deane's curling left-foot shot was cruelly cancelled out 11 minutes from time.

Albion were heading for their fourth consecutive home league fixture without a goal when substitute Scott Dobie chipped in a hopeful cross. Hayden Mullins was the unfortunate West Ham player who merely tried to help out in defence, but when the midfielder tried to clear the ball, he headed it past his own goalkeeper, David James instead.

The Hammers manager Alan Pardew was accurate when he said afterwards: "I was disappointed to draw because tactically we subdued them. I never felt uncomfortable on the sideline and it was West Brom's good fortune that we didn't take the lead in the first half.''

Pardew added about the unlucky Mullins: "He is very disappointed and was very unfortunate but we have to take these mistakes on the chin.''

West Ham's goal came after five minutes of concerted pressure, but their first real chance of scoring fell to full-back Wayne Quinn. It summed up the match to that moment that his attempt went out for a throw-in.

Soon after, David Connolly threw away a gilt-edged chance to give the Hammers the lead when from a throw-in, the Irish international somehow shot over from three yards out.

Yet that miss seemed unimportant when his fellow striker Deane beat Russell Hoult from all of 20 yards. When you think of the powerful striker, you don't often think of his finesse and touch, but that was exactly what he produced for the goal. Marlon Harewood ran at the home defence and when he was tackled, the ball trickled to Deane who steered his left-foot shot just inside Hoult's post.

At that time, Megson's decision to field exactly the same team as had triumphed against Manchester United - and asking them to produce victories within three days of each other - was looking like misplaced faith . Yet ironically it was the first change - forced on Megson when he brought on Dobie for Daniele Dichio - that in part led to West Brom's equaliser.

Megson said: "We played on Wednesday and it took its toll but we got a deserved point. We must show much more nous and know-how at home in the future.

West Bromwich Albion 1
Mullins og 80

West Ham United 1
Deane 68

Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 26,194

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