Pardew rues 'cruel blow' as Leeds rescue point

West Ham United 1 - Leeds United 1
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The Independent Football

A torrent of boos rained down upon David Healy and his Leeds United team-mates as they walked off the Upton Park pitch but they left east London safe in the knowledge they had snatched a precious point with a controversial late penalty.

A torrent of boos rained down upon David Healy and his Leeds United team-mates as they walked off the Upton Park pitch but they left east London safe in the knowledge they had snatched a precious point with a controversial late penalty.

The Northern Ireland striker converted the spot-kick after his tumble in the penalty area three minutes into injury time, leaving West Ham manager Alan Pardew fuming with referee Mike Pike's contentious award.

"We are incensed with the decision," said Pardew. "There were one or two claims before that and they shouldn't have reflected on the third decision.

"He took a desperate dive and the referee has given the decision. It is a cruel blow for the players and their efforts. We were defending very well but we should have got the second." Three minutes was all it took for West Ham to welcome back Leeds for their first clash in two years, Ukrainian striker Sergei Rebrov unleashing a powerful right-footed drive which Neil Sullivan did well to palm away.

Leeds, having gained just two wins in 11 League games, had slumped to their lowest league position under manager Kevin Blackwell but were almost gifted the lead on 11 minutes. Defender Darren Powell's backpass was intercepted by an alert Brian Deane, but the striker's dipping effort hit the bar.

And despite coming into this game with confidence brimming having beaten Sunderland last week, West Ham looked unconvincing as they failed to ask any real questions of their visitors.

Healy, playing in a fluid three-man front-line, tested Stephen Bywater with an instinctive drive on 28 minutes. The West Ham goalkeeper reacted well to tip the ball over. And Danny Pugh had an appeal for a penalty turned down after tumbling under Anton Ferdinand's challenge as Leeds, sensing their opponents' vulnerability, pushed forward.

With Teddy Sheringham on at half-time, Alan Pardew's men shook off the cobwebs and Luke Chadwick took the lead after four minutes. Midfielder Matthew Etherington's cross was bundled into the path of the former Manchester United winger who made no mistake from close range for his first goal at the club.

The goal inspired last season's losing play-off finalists, and despite the impressive Chadwick hobbling off on 66 minutes, West Ham shed the cautious approach, Steve Lomas being denied by a last-ditch tackle by Matthew Kilgallon.

But deep into stoppage time, Healy stole a share of the points.

Blackwell said: "Maybe justice was done at the end. I do not condone any cheating but if he [Healy] has done that, I will have a word with him."

West Ham United (4-4-2): Bywater; Repka, C Powell, D.Powell, Ferdinand; Lomas, Chadwick (Reo-Coker, 66mins), Etherington, Fletcher; Rebrov (Sheringham, 45mins), Harewood. Substitutes not used: Burch (gk); Mullins, Zamora.

Leeds United (4-3-3): Sullivan; Kelly, Butler, Kilgallon, Richardson; Wright (Walton, 89mins), Pugh, Gregan; Healy, Deane (Joachim, 79mins), Oster (McMaster, 86mins). Substitutes not used: Carson (gk); Spring.

Referee: M Pike (Barrow-in-Furness).

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