Seamus Coleman strike rescues team-mate Tony Hibbert after own goal...
West Ham and Everton battled to a 1-1 draw at Upton Park as Avram Grant picked up another vital point as he tries to save his job.
An enthralling first half was negated by a poor second, as neither team seemed happy to go for a winner throughout the second half.
While the teams were evenly matched, the fans can feel a little let down that the players didn’t make more of an attacking effort in the second half, as both sides were happy to soak up pressure and play down the clock for a point.
Everton came closest in the early exchanges, with Sylvain Distin firing across the face of goal following a corner in the seventh minute.
Had he been a little less wasteful though, it could have been an easy goal for Tim Cahill, who made a run at the far post but failed to get on the end of the shot.
The next 10 minutes were intense, end to end action, with West Ham causing a lot of trouble on the break to a makeshift Everton back-line.
The Hammers can argue that they haven’t had much luck of late, but in the 15th minute, they got a huge slice of it with the opening goal.
A corner from Scott Parker was flicked on by James Tomkins, and afterwards a game of pinball ensued in the goalmouth, with Radoslav Kovac attempting an overhead kick which Tony Hibbert tried to block, but could only slice it into the back of the net.
A series of corners almost resulted in an equaliser for Everton minutes later, but Distin wasted two good opportunities, for which West Ham almost made them pay.
Freddie Sears was playing well, full of running and useful when on the ball, and his cross just evaded Victor Obinna, who almost scored again a minute later, only to find the stanchion behind the goal.
Everton were occasionally looking dangerous, especially from the left wing, with the in-form Leighton Baines always looking to overlap, but West Ham looked far more ready to play than their Merseyside counterparts, with Parker and Sears in particular impressing.
In the 42nd minute, however, Everton were level, as Seamus Coleman had the freedom of Upton Park to equalise.
The right-back drifted in from a wide position as the ball was played from Mikel Arteta to Cahill on the left flank. The Australian then spotted Coleman unmarked at the far post with recent substitute Jonathan Spector sucked in to mark Jack Rodwell, and Cahill’s cross to the far post was easily tucked under Robert Green by the 22-year-old Irishman.
Parker came close at the other end with an audacious lob which landed on the roof of the net before Coleman screwed another attempt wide, but as referee Howard Webb brought the first half to a close neither side could complain about the score line.
The opening stages of the second half came and went almost entirely without event. Everton were on top, but hadn’t made any real inroads on the West Ham goal with their possession.
West Ham made what seemed to be another enforced substitution with Frederic Piquionne being replaced by Carlton Cole, but in truth it could also have been tactical, as they seemed set to rely on their midfield – and Parker in particular – to create any chances.
Neither side came particularly close to scoring as it seemed they were settling for a point as early as half-time.
David Moyes was at least content to sacrifice a holding midfielder in Jack Rodwell for striker Yakubu, in the most positive attacking move to that point in the second half.
In the first real highlight of the second half, West Ham broke following an Everton attack, and Sears’ precise cross to Carlton Cole was woefully missed by the striker, miscuing horribly and steering the ball six yards wide of the far corner.
Cahill came closest for Everton with a half-chance in the 80th minute, but his shot on the turn was straight at Green’s feet.
Everton were starting to press more, and only a minute later earned a corner following a mazy Baines run. From the corner, Marouane Fellaini’s header was beaten out by Green.
The team from Merseyside then had the ball in the net, but following Yakubu’s ill-judged acrobatic attempt, Cahill was a long way offside when he stole the ball.
West Ham seemed to have a decent shout for a free kick turned down, and it would surely have resulted in a red card for the goalkeeper Tim Howard as he twice made challenges on West Ham forwards outside the box, but Howard Webb was unmoved.
Everton had seemed the most likely to score in the second half, but to say they dominated the second half would be harsh.
In truth, neither team deserved to win the match, which was enthralling and disappointing in equal measures, with an exciting first half cancelled out by a second half in which neither team were content to risk losing a goal.