West Ham fight back to grab valuable point against Leicester City
PUBLISHED: 22:08 24 November 2017 | UPDATED: 22:08 24 November 2017
PA Wire/PA Images
Hammers midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate helped West Ham come from behind for a share of the points at the London Stadium
West Ham United 1 Leicester City 1
West Ham United wore rainbow laces as a show of strength towards inclusivity in football and, although there was no crock of gold at the end of this contest, the Hammers did at least manage to arrest their recent slide with a determined draw at the London Stadium.
Marc Albrighton slid lively Leicester City ahead on seven minutes, before Cheikhou Kouyaté headed the Hammers level on the interval to give David Moyes’ men a precious point.
Both sides had endured two-goal defeats last weekend and, after being stung by the Hornets in the vitriol of Vicarage Road on Sunday, the new man in the dug-out made just one change from the side that had lost to Watford in his first game in charge.
Arthur Masuaku tellingly replaced substitute Mark Noble as Winston Reid took the captain’s armband for a West Ham team kicking-off in 18th-spot with just nine points and 25 goals conceded – the worst ‘against’ column in the Premier League table.
And within seven minutes, that tally ticked-up to 26, when Wilfred Ndidi cleverly released Jamie Vardy down the left flank and, while the England striker’s low cross into the Hammers area was not the best, the stumbling Angelo Ogbonna carelessly missed his clearance.
With the unbalanced, unsteady Italian now grounded, that allowed Albrighton to ghost into the box and slide a low eight-yarder inside the base of Joe Hart’s right-hand post to claim his first goal of the season to the collective frustration of everyone claret and blue.
Leicester had failed to muster a single shot on target against Manchester City last Saturday but, undeterred, Claude Puel now had an early reward for naming an unchanged side, which sat six places and four points above the Hammers going into this Friday night fight night.
Midway through the half, Demarai Gray released Vardy, who easily glided past Winston Reid only for Marko Arnautović to deny the flying Foxes forward at the expense of a corner, which was only half-cleared to Christian Fuchs, who sent a 25-yarder whistling over Hart’s crossbar.
In reply, the Hammers finally forced Kasper Schmeichel into his first save of the evening, when Manuel Lanzini floated over a left-wing free-kick, which was met by Ogbonna, whose downward header was parried by the great Dane, as Arnautović also tried to get a touch.
Still Leicester threatened, though, and on the half-hour Riyad Mahrez sliced through home defences before selfishly ignoring his supporting team-mates and wastefully firing straight into Hart’s gloves.
Once again, Vardy sent another tantalising low ball across the face of goal, before another Foxes foray forward was broken up by the escaping Hammers but - two-on-two - neither Kouyaté nor Lanzini could capitalise and it was all too easy for Harry Maguire, who pick-pocketed, the Argentinian 18 yards out.
Kouyaté also nodded another difficult chance wide, while Danny Simpson rose highest to deny Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell as the trio went in pursuit of Arnautović’s inviting far post cross.
While the Hammers resistance was gathering strength, just before the break, Vardy’s close-control allowed him to carve out an opening but he curled his low 15-yarder wide of the far post to the relief of Hart, who knew his side would have struggled to recover from a two-goal deficit.
Having survived that let-off, right on half-time, West Ham did, indeed, pull themselves level as Simpson again conceded a corner under pressure.
And when Lanzini sent the left-wing corner into the danger-zone, Kouyaté made sure that he was the first man there with a juddering six-yard header that skimmed off the luckless Simpson’s scalp on its way into the net to drastically alter Moyes’ half-time team-talk.
The Senegalese steamroller’s second goal of the campaign ensured that the mood inside London Stadium was markedly changed, too, as the locals vociferously got behind their team in line with Moyes’ pre-match pleas and, after drilling an awkward cross into the near-post, Masuaku then sent a low 20-yarder fizzing through the nippy November night into Schmeichel’s clutches.
For now, all things West Ham were United as the Foxes found themselves hunted down.
Arnautović sent a 12-yard header over the angle as Moyes stood on the edge of his technical area heading every ball and riding every tackle but that was the industrious Austrian’s final contribution before being replaced by André Ayew.
Ben Chilwell also came on for Mahrez with 20 minutes remaining but it was counterpart substitute Ayew, who was soon in the thick of things, tumbling under Maguire’s 18-yard line challenge without reward and then getting booked for lunging into Gray.
Such was West Ham’s determination that Reid accidentally kicked Andy Carroll in the face as the two desperately attempted to clear Albrighton’s dangerous cross into the six-yard box and, with Stuart Pearce now joining Moyes by the touchline, West Ham battled and baulked for every ball with an intensity not seen for several weeks.
Ayew sent a late overhead kick onto the roof of the Foxes net but, in the end, time simply ran out for both sides and, as they undid those rainbow laces after 90 hard-fought minutes at least there had been some East End sunshine to emerge from the storms of recent weeks.
HAMMERS: Hart, Zabaleta, Cresswell, Reid, Ogbonna, Kouyaté, Obiang, Masuaku (Sakho 90+4), Arnautović (Ayew 68), Lanzini, Carroll. Unused subs: Adrián, Noble, Fernandes, Quina, Rice.
FOXES: Schmeichel, Simpson, Fuchs, Morgan, Maguire, Iborra, Ndidi, Gray (Slimani 90+2), Mahrez (Chilwell 70), Albrighton, Vardy. Unused subs: Hamer, Iheanacho, King, Dragović, Okazaki.
Booked: Ayew (78)
Referee: Martin Atkinson.