West Ham United threw away a chance to move off the foot of the Premier League table last night, amid more complaints from Avram Grant over key refereeing decisions going against his team.
The West Ham manager was upset with Mike Dean awarding West Bromwich Albion a penalty to open the scoring at Upton Park and expressed it by hurling a water bottle down the touchline when Scott Parker levelled shortly after. "I threw it on the floor because nobody came to take it," explained Grant.
After Frédéric Piquionne scored a spot-kick himself to establish a lead, Grant's frustration turned to his defenders after they failed to mark Pablo Ibañez and the defender earned a share of the spoils.
Grant highlighted the character of his team for forcing their way back into the game but they would have been celebrating a second league win of the season had Dean not awarded a penalty for Luis Boa Morte holding Steven Reid while defending a corner. It led to Peter Odemwingie breaking the deadlock from the spot in the 38th minute. "I don't think he held him," said Grant.
Excluding this game, Grant believes his side have been denied "four or five" points as a result of poor decisions from referees. He feels his side do not put pressure on referees like other teams do, and have suffered as a consequence. That could not be said for Grant himself, who confronted Dean at half-time, although the manager added: "We talked very politely to each other. It was not something exceptional. I told him what I think and he told me what he thinks, that's all."
Following Odemwingie's opener, Parker levelled with a 30-yard drive after Carlton Cole had won the ball in West Bromwich territory.
Piquionne's penalty came after Kieron Dyer had been knocked off balance in the area by Gabriel Tamas, but West Brom levelled when Chris Brunt crossed for Ibañez.
West ham's co-owner David Sullivan had set a target of seven points from four games and, halfway through the run of matches, Grant has just two draws. Grant, who had Cole suffer a hamstring injury in the second half, insisted: "I want to take points, not because anybody else wants to take them. I want to take points because I want to take points, because I think we deserve to take points.
"I don't want to say the word deserve, because there is no deserve. We need to take it and we are very close to it. I think when the first win comes we will win more games, because we are playing football to win the games.
"We have had a lot of injuries and it is not easy. We keep our style of football, it is not going like we want, but we are playing well and that is what frustrates us more than anything. If we continue like this, then the points will come."
Roberto Di Matteo, the West Brom manager, was pleased to record a draw after back-to-back defeats but felt his side should have gone into the break ahead. He said: "I agree we were worth more than one point. We gave them an early Christmas present before half-time, as we are generous people, and got them back into the game."
Di Matteo praised the referee, adding: "He has a very good game. He handled the pressure well, controlled the game nicely and got the key decisions right. I could not see him, so he was not the main focus on the game. I agree there was pushing and pulling at every corner but the penalty for us was obvious."
West Ham United (4-3-3): Green; Jacobsen, Upson, Gabbidon, Ilunga; Dyer, Parker, Boa Morte (Kovac, 53); Barrera (McCarthy, 88), Piquionne, Cole (Obinna,75). Substitutes not used Stech (gk), Reid, Tomkins, Spector.
West Bromwich Albion (4-1-4-1): Carson; Reid, Ibanez, Cech, Tamas; Scharner; Brunt, Morrison, Dorrans (Cox, 67), Thomas (Barnes, 75); Odemwingie 8 (Fortune 88). Substitutes not used Myhill (gk), Tchoyi, Shorey, Zuiverloon.
Referee M Dean (Wirral)
Man of the match Parker
Match rating 6/10