West Ham's survival strategy gathers speed

West Ham United 1 Everton 1

By Mark Fleming
Wednesday 29 December 2010 01:00

West Ham United looked out on their feet at the final whistle, but their exertions were worth it, with a valuable draw yesterday that gave Avram Grant's side four points in three days.

West Ham were bottom of the Premier League at Christmas, but couldy be out of the bottom three on New Year's Day, should they beat Wolverhampton Wanderers at Upton Park and other results go their way.

Although this was far from a convincing performance by Grant's side, at least they did not stumble and let their good work go to waste.

West Ham, keen to build on their victory at Fulham on Boxing Day, started with purpose, despite Grant's decision to make four changes from the team that won at Craven Cottage.

Carlton Cole, who scored two goals at Fulham, was deemed not up to playing twice in three days and was left out, replaced by Victor Obinna. The changes did not disrupt West Ham's rhythm, however, and Obinna's energy and enthusiasm up front gave them something extra.

It came as no surprise when they went ahead after 16 minutes. Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard palmed away a corner and Radoslav Kovac's overhead kick was diverted into the goal by a hefty deflection off Tony Hibbert. Obinna smashed a shot wide and Scott Parker chipped just too high as the home side went in search of a second.

Everton responded by sticking to their precise passing game. Without a recognised striker on the pitch, they lacked the traditional spearhead but their movement proved too much for West Ham at times.

With 42 minutes on the clock the visitors drew level. Mikel Arteta ran crossfield with the ball, passed it to Tim Cahill on the left wing and his cross found Seamus Coleman ghosting in unmarked at the far post to score with ease.

West Ham appeared to tire in the second half, perhaps a consequence of playing twice in three days over Christmas. Everton's game against Birmingham on Boxing Day was cancelled, presenting the visitors with a far less taxing build-up to the game.

The Everton manager, David Moyes, withdrew the impressive Jack Rodwell and replaced him with a striker in Yakubu in the hope of pushing for a victory. However, it was West Ham who created the best chance to win with a flowing move. Obinna found Freddie Sears dashing down the right and his low centre was picked by Carlton Cole, on for Frédéric Piquionne who suffered a groin injury. Cole's scoring touch deserted him, however, as he dragged his shot horribly wide of the far post.

Tim Cahill could have stolen the points late in the game, but after Steven Pienaar found him with a low cross he could only poke a tame shot straight at West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green.

The England keeper also pulled off a fine save to deny Marouane Fellaini's header from a corner as Everton put West Ham under late pressure.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga (Spector, 34); Sears, Kovac, Parker, Boa Morte; Piquionne (Cole, 56), Obinna (Hines, 85). Substitutes not used Boffin (gk), Reid, Barrera, Stanislas.

Booked Kovac.

Everton (4-1-4-1): Howard; Neville, Hibbert, Distin, Baines; Fellaini; Coleman, Rodwell (Yakubu, 62), Arteta (Bilyaletdinov, 90), Pienaar (Beckford, 89); Cahill. Substitutes not used Mucha (gk), Saha, Duffy, Baxter.

Man of the match Parker.

Referee H Webb (S Yorkshire).

Attendance 33,422.

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