Late equaliser denies West ham but performance shows they can beat drop
AFTER a fortnight to forget to West Ham the players showed fantastic grit and determination at Everton, despite a last gasp goal denying them victory.
Much of the talk will be of Marouane Fellainin’s injury time equaliser and although they will be devastated to drop two points, their performance over the 90 minutes shows they have more than enough quality to escape the bottom three.
Frederic Piquionne thought he headed home the winner six minutes from time. He was shown a second yellow card for by running into the crowd when celebrating his goal. The French striker had only minutes earlier been booked for a needless kick on Everton’s first goalscorer Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, while Jonathan Spector grabbed his first league goal in the opening 45 minutes to give the visitors the lead.
Everton were far from at their best, but the Hammers should be praised for the reaction to the goings on at Upton Park over the last couple of weeks and their performance showed their support for boss Avram Grant.
Grant made three changes to the side who were beaten 3-0 by Arsenal last Saturday.
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Toothache victim Frederic Piquionne returned to the startling line-up, with Carlton Cole not even making the substitutes bench after failing fitness test.
The Hammers started brightly, Piquionne fired over from just outside the area and in the eighth minute Spector should have given his side the lead, but lobbed over when well placed inside the box.
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The hosts were sloppy in possession and although West Ham tried to make inroads, their final ball was letting them down.
Everton started to find their rhythm after 20 minutes and West ham were thankful for a splendid last ditch tackle from James Tomkins, which denied Jermaine Beckford just as the striker looked set to shoot from inside the box.
The Hammers took the lead after 26 minutes when Noble played through Boa Morte on the left, who got to the bi-line and pulled the ball back for Spector, who from the edge of the area American fired home.
The lead should have been doubled after 38 minutes, when Heitinga fell over as Noble crossed, leaving Piquionne free, but his header hit the inside of the post and trickled away to safety.
Like against Birmingham last week the Hammers decided the best way to defend their slender lead was to defend deep.
Everton, like City did, took advantage and launched attack after attack at the visitors back four, who just about managed to keep the hosts at bay.
The Hammers still cannot stop crosses going into the box, with the delivery of Leighton Baines from the left a constant threat.
West Ham got through the tricky spell and Zavon Hines came close with a spectacular half volley which thundered just wide.
The Hammers seemed comfortable, which is why Everton’s equaliser came as a bitter blow.
From a swinging cross Piquionne’s weak header failed to clear the danger and from the edge of the area substitute Bilyaletdinov smashed his unstoppable effort into the top corner with 13 minutes left.
Both sides searched for the win but it was the Hammers who scored as Piquionne deflected a brilliant Wayne Bridge cross into the net.
The points looked to be heading to Upton Park, but disaster struck in injury time when Fellaini powered home from just inside the area to rescue a point foir the Toffees