John Carew rescues point for West Ham at Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace 2 West Ham 2: Steve Blowers reports from Selhurst Park
John Carew stepped from the bench to salvage a late point for Sam Allardyce’s side at sweltering Selhurst Park, where West Ham United twice found themselves trailing in this dogged, ding-dong derby, writes STEVE BLOWERS.
The Norwegian substitute netted his first goal for the club with just 11 minutes remaining, after Glenn Murray’s second-half effort had looked set to give Palace victory on an afternoon that had earlier seen Kevin Nolan wipe out Darren Ambrose’s opener.
Following Tuesday night’s defeat against Ipswich Town, Allardyce had made four changes from the side that had been ploughed up so disappointingly by the Tractor Boys as Arsenal’s emergency on-loan keeper Manuel Almunia replaced the injured Green, while debutant Papa Bouba Diop, Julian Faubert and Jack Collison came in for Mark Noble, Joey O’Brien and substitute Sam Baldock.
But Palace drew first blood through Ambrose, who had climbed from the dug-out in midweek to net up one of the three late goals that had given the Eagles victory over arch-rivals Brighton & Hove Albion and seen them fly up into ninth spot, four points and five places behind the Hammers.
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Indeed, the wide boy’s reward was a starting place against the Hammers as Dougie Freedman made a trio of switches that also saw Anthony Gardner and Jonathan Parr come in for substitutes Sean Scannell, Aleksander Tunchev and Peter Ramage.
And the unmarked Ambrose wasted no time repaying his manager’s faith in him, when he fired Palace into a sixth-minute lead from 10 yards after Jonathan Williams picked up the pieces from Julian’s Speroni’s punt upfield and fired an inviting low right-wing cross into Hammers area.
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For 10 uncertain minutes, West Ham did little to suggest that they could silence the ecstatic Eagles’ fans and with Carlton Cole kicking an advertising hoarding in frustration after firing behind and the 4,356 visiting supporters wishfully chanting for the return of Manchester City outcast Carlos Tevez, Allardyce’s men looked lost.
But fortunately, they found themselves again on the quarter-hour mark, when Speroni struggled to deal with George McCartney’s hanging left-wing cross and Cole’s goalbound header back left Nolan with probably the easiest tap-in he will ever convert in his career.
Buoyed by that leveller, West Ham went on to enjoy the better moments of an uneventful first-half that was largely played out in the sun-baked midfield and, after the scoring Hammers skipper curled high over, Cole also sent a close-range header wide, before Nolan, again, wastefully nodded into the keeper’s arms from close range to keep it all-square at the break.
Murray had also prodded wide from a couple of yards as the interval neared but, on 51 minutes, the Palace striker restored his side’s lead, when he collected from Wilfried Zaha before curling a well-placed 18-yarder that bent between the groping glove of Almunia and the base of the keeper’s left-hand upright.
Chasing the contest once more, Cole nodded over and David Bentley thudded wide from distance before Allardyce made a double switch that saw Carew and Baldock replace Collison and Cole midway through the second period.
With West Ham now reverting from a 4-5-1 formation to a 4-4-2 line-up, Baldock drilled wide from 18 yards, Henri Lansbury saw his shot charged down by substitute Ramage, Carew hooked skywards and Nolan was a solitary stud away from connecting with Abdoulaye Faye’s header across goal.
But just when it looked like the Hammers were about to slump to a second defeat in five days, McCartney sent an angled left-wing cross towards the Palace penalty spot, where Carew climbed highest to nod the ball beyond Speroni and rescue a welcome point for Big Sam.
PALACE: Speroni, Parr, Moxey, McCarthy, Gardner, Zaha (Easter 83), Ambrose (Ramage 70), Jedinak, Wright, Williams (Scannell 65), Murray. Unused: Price, Tunchev.
HAMMERS: Almunia, Faubert, McCartney, Tomkins, Faye, Collison (Carew 67), Bentley (Sears 88), Nolan, Diop, Lansbury, Cole (Baldock 67). Unused: Boffin, Demel.
Booked: McCartney (87). Easter (90+4).
Referee: Kevin Wright.