Post by Football News on Jan 30, 2018 23:28:11 GMT
Mark Noble on spot to earn makeshift West Ham draw with Crystal Palace
While it remains impossible to argue with the assertion that West Ham United are crying out for reinforcements before the transfer window closes, at least the players who are still standing displayed no inclination to hide on a night that demanded inspiration rather than perspiration on the pitch. A point was a respectable reward for their efforts, bearing in that mind that they were deprived of nearly an entire first team, and David Moyes was satisfied with the way that his weary team soldiered on in trying circumstances.
They demonstrated their character to fight back after Christian Benteke’s early goal for Crystal Palace, offering another reminder of the excellent job that Moyes has done since replacing Slaven Bilic, and their performance contained enough grit to suggest they are capable of clambering towards safety. Yet they cannot afford any complacency. West Ham are four points above the bottom three – Palace are a point worse off – and Moyes needs his bosses to use every negotiating tactic at their disposal to bring him at least one new signing.
West Ham’s manager was coy on reports that he will rival Palace for Lille’s Ibrahim Amadou and he confirmed that Swansea City have lodged a bid for André Ayew, with Ki-Sung yeung potentially going the other way. “We’re considering it but we need players in and until we do we can’t make a decision,” Moyes said.
As for the players at his disposal, Moyes revealed that a breach of discipline forced him to drop Michail Antonio, who was expected to feature after missing a month with a groin injury. “He turned up late for a team meeting and it wasn’t the first time,” he said. “I’m not having it. He’s been in and apologised. He’ll be back training tomorrow. On time.”
For all that they have missed his dynamism, West Ham cannot tolerate that kind of attitude from Antonio. But with his squad stretched to breaking point by the absence of nine players, it was tempting to wonder if Moyes had spent the day searching for a few ringers. Barely a week goes by without another victim joining West Ham’s injury list and the sight of five callow academy players on the bench was a damning indictment of the hierarchy’s indecisiveness.
Yet while a £15m deal for FC Krasnodar’s Fyodor Smolov is doubtful, Moyes was pleased with an enterprising full debut from João Mário. The midfielder almost scored after three minutes, snatching a shot from the edge of the area, and on this evidence signing the Portugal international on loan from Internazionale looks like a good call. “He looked as if he had a diesel engine,” Moyes said.
For Palace, this was a slog and they were disappointed not to hold on after taking the lead in the 24th minute. Andros Townsend surged past Declan Rice and his cross caught out Angelo Ogbonna, enabling Benteke to head past Adrián for his second goal of the season.
Yet Palace’s rhythm was disturbed when Bakary Sako departed with a potentially serious injury. “The medical staff don’t think it looks good at all,” Roy Hodgson said. “We don’t really have the luxury of losing a forward player. You could say it makes it a little bit more imperative that we bring some players in.”
West Ham responded with heart, dragging themselves level in the 43rd minute. Mário’s impressive persistence forced the ball to Javier Hernández and James Tomkins did his former team a favour when he clumsily fouled the Mexican. Mark Noble converted the penalty to claim his 50th goal for the club.
The sense that Palace would grow stronger as the match wore on proved misplaced. West Ham hunted in packs to restrict Wilfried Zaha’s space, with the wily Pablo Zabaleta warming to his role in defensive midfield, and they had the best opening in the second half.
Mário was starting to relish his new surroundings and when he fed Sam Byram, the wing-back’s delivery ought to have been finished off, only for Hernández to plant his header too close to Wayne Hennessey. It was a fine reaction save from the Palace goalkeeper, but Hernández lives for those kind of chances and it was a surprise not to see him make the net bulge.
As the hour approached, the game was becoming broken and a bit more to Palace’s liking. However they were limited in possession. Townsend picked up a booking for diving and thoughts were turning to the spectacle of deadline day long before the end.