West Ham held 3-3 by West Brom in thriller
London: West Ham United wasted a perfect opportunity to ease their relegation fears on Saturday when they were held to a 3-3 draw in the Premier League by drop zone rivals West Bromwich Albion.
Despite leading and enjoying dominant spells in the opening half, West Ham were booed off the pitch at the final whistle and are now without a win in six games while managerless Albion were happy with a well-earned point.
In a thrilling clash at Upton Park, the Hammers took an early lead through former England forward Joe Cole, but were hit by two goals in five minutes by French striker Nicolas Anelka just before the interval.
The half-time introduction of Mali striker Modibo Maiga enlivened West Ham again and, after striking an equaliser in the 65th minute, he helped set up Kevin Nolan two minutes later as the home team went ahead again.
But West Ham were unable to hang on to their lead and the visitors` substitute striker Saido Berahino equalised with a fine diagonal left-foot shot after 69 minutes. He also hit the post with an 82nd minute free-kick, but West Ham hung on to avoid defeat.
The result extended a grim sequence for West Ham who have won only once in 12 league games since winning 3-0 at Tottenham Hotspur on October 6. They remained 19th with 15 points while West Brom stayed 15th.
"We are disappointed," Nolan told Sky Sports television. "I think we were all over them in the first half and let them back into the game. I played with Nico (Anelka) before, at Bolton, and you just can`t give him chances like that.
"He has quality all over and that is what he does. But the manager was brilliant at halftime and he just told us to calm down. It`s the way our season has been going, quality goals scored against us."
Anelka`s goals were his first since joining Albion and his first in the Premier League since August 11 when he had scored against the Baggies while playing for Chelsea.
He played with eye-catching intelligence and verve, often dragging West Ham defenders out of position and creating chances for his team mates.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, the only man in charge of a bottom six club who has kept his job since the start of the season, had recalled Finnish goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, saying "results are built on clean sheets."
But he was left lamenting a disjointed defensive display as West Ham, now without a win in six games, failed to muster enough serious goal threat in the second half.
Nolan, however, dismissed any notion that Allardyce could be replaced as manager.
"No. It`s all about us sticking together as a club," he said. "We need to the fans to stick with us as well... I am sure we will be okay at the end of the season.
"Any of the six teams in trouble, if Sam was out of a job, they would hire him to keep them up. The chairmen have been brilliant with him and we`ll be alright."