Defoe equaliser is relief for Pardew

West Ham United 1 Nottingham Forest 1
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The Independent Football

A win for Alan Pardew on his debut at the West Ham United manager would have been a neat ending to an East End plot that had lingered for over six weeks, and would have seen the Londoners assume second place in the First Division.

As it was, this third consecutive home draw could easily have ended in defeat, as their tormentor-in-chief, Nottingham Forest's Andy Reid, scored his team's goal, hit the crossbar and missed an open goal shortly before the end.

But Pardew could claim with some justification that once they had drawn level through Jermain Defoe, they were the side doing enough to earn three points as a succession of chances whistled past Darren Ward's goal.

Defoe levelled matters after 56 minutes, and also hit the woodwork in injury time, as Forest found themselves with somewhat tougher opposition after their 6-0 thrashing of Wimbledon at the weekend. As it is Forest, who Pardew feels will reach the play-offs once more this season, are only ninth, with West Ham in fifth.

Pardew is used to contesting the play-offs with Reading, the team he left early last month. However, under the terms of his ugly departure from the Berkshire club, he had to spend six weeks on gardening leave, uninvolved in football at West Ham.

In that time, he claimed to have literally not set foot in his own garden, but his first match in charge will have finally allowed him to see if root and branch surgery is required, or simply some light pruning, to achieve an instant return to the Premiership.

Pardew only took charge on Monday, succeeding the caretaker Trevor Brooking, and straightaway brought in Hayden Mullins on loan from Crystal Palace. The full-back's first contribution was to slip and let Reid in on goal, and he let fly with a wonderful strike from 25 yards after five minutes, leaving David James helpless.

West Ham's reaction betrayed a lack of imagination and constant high balls to Defoe and his diminutive strike partner David Connolly did not look the most likely way to an equaliser. However, when Matthew Etherington pumped yet another high ball into the area Defoe found the space to head past Ward.

Christian Dailly and Connolly then went close before Reid and Defoe swapped shots against the uprights, but Pardew instantly set high standards afterwards when he said: "We're West Ham, we're at home and we've got to win. There was an unfamiliar manager and system but perhaps we should've won in the end."

West Ham (4-4-2): James; Mullins, Repka, Dailly, Brown; Etherington, Carrick, Hutchison, Lee (Ferdinand, 77); Defoe, Connolly (Mellor, 87). Substitutes not used: Bywater (gk), Kilgallon, Byrne.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Ward; Louis-Jean, Dawson, Walker, Morgan; Williams, Reid, Jess (Sonner, 69), Stewart (Gunnarsson, 69); Taylor, Harewood. Substitutes not used: Roche (gk), Robertson, Bopp.

Referee: A Bates (Staffs).