Bolton Wanderers 0 West Ham United 0: Fixture jam hurting cup hopes, says Allardyce

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The Independent Online

It was not hard to work out which manager had gained most. West Ham United's Alan Pardew beamed, called the match a "great performance" and relished the replay. Sam Allardyce gloomily pondered the fixture congestion.

Pardew, of course, has home advantage for the replay and, with Manchester United and Arsenal removed, a kind draw could open the way to Wembley. "Whoever progresses has a great chance," he said. "It's a big prize and when the draw is made the replay may become even bigger."

Which will contrast heavily with this match, which was so flat Noel Coward could have used it instead of Norfolk. No goals, no bookings, few chances and no conclusive evidence as to which side will get through to the quarter-finals. A crowd of little more than 17,000 for a game that did not have the rival attraction of being shown live on television summed it up.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Pardew was smitten, even if the result spoilt West Ham's quest for a club record eighth successive victory. "We showed our resilience," he said. "We weren't at our best, but you have to win your headers and tackles at Bolton and stay organised at set pieces. We came through that test.

"And I am not having a go at Bolton. To be honest, I thought the game was played in a great spirit."

Cue Big Sam to prick the optimism, but, to be fair, the Bolton manager could face four matches in eight days next month if his side defeat Marseilles in the Uefa Cup on Thursday. "Both competitions are going to be difficult for us to stay in now," he said. "The odds are against us. We've had two home games and not taken advantage."

His chief grumble in this game was a disallowed goal after 64 minutes when Ricardo Gardner slipped a pass through to Stelios Giannakopoulos. It was ruled offside even though television replays suggested otherwise, prompting Allardyce to wonder whether assistant referees understand the rules.

Yet if Allardyce was disappointed by the officials, he was equally so by the response of his own supporters, who had expressed their interest in the FA Cup by staying away. "There were only 12,000 of our fans here and West Ham brought 5,000, that's nearly a third of the total crowd," he said. "It gave an advantage to West Ham, because the intimidation factor here has got us results in the past and the atmosphere has lifted our players." Just add no atmosphere to the list of nothings in this match.

Bolton Wanderers (4-3-3) : Jaaskelainen; O'Brien, Haim, Jaidi, Gardner; Nakata, Nolan, Okocha; Speed, Stelios (Vaz Te, 70), Davies (Borgetti, 85). Substitutes not used: Walker (gk), Hunt, Faye .

West Ham United (4-4-2) : Hislop; Scaloni, Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Konchesky; Benayoun (Dailly, 82), Reo-Coker, Mullins, Etherington; Ashton (Sheringham, 76), Harewood (Zamora, 63). Substitutes not used: Bywater (gk), Collins.

Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).

Man of the match: Gabbidon.

Attendance: 17,120.

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