A last gasp Danny Collins header secured West Ham a vital point in a fiery encounter at Elland Road.
Collins rose highest to nod home a Mark Noble corner on his full debut in added time to cancel out Luciano Becchio’s 83rd minute opener to help the Hammers keep in touch with 2nd place Reading.
In a scrappy encounter where neither side could gain the initiative, The Whites opener summed up the game perfectly as a partially cleared ball found Snodgrass who chipped the ball to the back stick were Paul Connolly looped a header against the crossbar and Becchio reacted quickest to nod home from under the crossbar to give Leeds the lead with just seven minutes remaining.
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But just as I turned to my Manchester United supporting friend who was watching the stream with me with a wry smile on his face at my obvious anguish I said more in hope than expectation “we’ve got a goal in us here”. Just two minutes later my hope turned into expectation just as the clock ticked into the 90th minute as Nobles whipped in corner found Collins who looped his header into the top corner to send to travelling faithful into a frenzy.
Billed as the biggest club game in the nPower Championship, expectations were high for a fiery exciting encounter, unfortunately fiery was the only adjective that turned up in a game that never really got going but for the last ten minutes. Watching on a stream in the comfort of my own bedroom was not where I wanted to be as the nerves kicked in. As the game started the Hammers started well, and in truth never really looked in too much danger. Only a Robert Snodgrass free kick had Green
scrambling and worried. The problem for the Hammers was they weren’t really creating any clear cut opportunities of their own. That was summed up when the Hammers main chance came from a bad kick from keeper Lonergan, who smashed the ball against Nicky Maynard which looped wide of the post.
Maynard who looked isolated up top on his own struggled to make a real impact on the game, but his effort and endeavour alone deserved the warm applause he received when we was replace early on in the second half by Carlton Cole. And it was Maynard who had the best chance for the visitors in the first half latching onto a through ball only for his second touch to let him down and allow Lonergan to smother the opportunity.
As time ticked by the first half was becoming more and more predictable. The Irons were pumping balls forward in an attempt to latch onto a flick on or a mistake. Whilst Leeds were keeping to ball well but only really probing the away side rather than putting any real pressure on the Hammers. As the half time whistle went Tomkins was laid flat on his back and was forced to go off injured.
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Bafflingly Allardyce brought on O’Neil as his replacement and you all know by now my view on him. He is still struggling from the effects of a Reo-Coker lunge and still looks half the player he was when he first joined. And I’m sure Billy was banging on about his lack of presence again.
Maynard’s replacement Carlton Cole immediately looked more at home than Maynard up top on his own, holding up play well and creating opportunities for himself and others, most notably a flicked header from a Noble free kick which just cleared the crossbar. And as the game went on it looked as though the Hammers were going to continue their fine away day form and register that record 11th away day win. But as we all know we shouldn’t expect as this is West Ham and just as I was giving
large to my friend Becchio rose highest to head home to give the home side the advantage with time ticking down. Hands in my head I heard a slight chuckle from Benny as he watched on at my despair.
“Calm down” he said as he watched my frustration as the Hammers continue to lump balls up front. Ironically it was when the Irons played to ball on the deck and into the wide areas it was when we looked the most threaten and it was a McCartney cross which was turned over by the Leeds number 1 that led to the corner that provided the Hammers with their equaliser. Noble’s corner found the leaping Collins who netted his first goal for the club since his arrival just 9 days prior to the game.
‘Push for the win’ was the text I sent to Billy as the added time board was held up showing 4 minutes. When Morrison who made his belated debut for the club set O’Neil away down the right,
expectation rose in the flat, but once again the expectation was shot down in flames as the former Portsmouth man over hit his cross and the ball drifted out for a goal kick and the full time whistle was blown.
Overall a point gained in the circumstance, and as West Ham record shows up at Elland Road proves it is no easy place to go so from that perspective a very good point and a deserved one too. But take nothing away from Leeds and Neil Warnock who made the Hammers work hard for that point and were fully deserving of a draw too. A fair result in front of the bumper Elland road crowd who I’m sure would have expected so much more.
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So the Hammers collected their third draw in a row as they fell further behind table toppers Southampton and it makes that game in hand all the more important a week Tuesday at London
Road. Here’s hoping that the last gasp equaliser will spur the boys on and help to rose confident as we head into the final push for promotion.
Come on you Irons!
P.S. A special message of hope to Fabrice Muamba and his family. Pull through fella.