Vaz Te rescues a point for West Ham

Hammers miss the chance to go top

Ricardo Vaz Te rescued a point for the lacklustre Hammers against Watford on Wednesday night as they missed their chance to go back to the top of the Championship.

The Hammers seemed to be heading to a dismal home defeat after Sean Murray had given the Hornets the lead with 20 minutes left, but on 87 minutes West Ham finally earned some reward for their efforts.

Mark Noble’s corner led to a goalmouth scramble and when the ball came out to the edge of the box, substitute Vaz Te was there to thump a shot through a crowd of players and in off the post to make it 1-1.

A head injury to Dale Bennett led to a lengthy stoppage, resulting in nine minutes of injury time, but the tiring Hammers could not summon the effort to force a last-gasp victory.

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The nearest they came was when the lively Vaz Te pulled the ball back for George McCartney and when his cross went to the far post, Julien Faubert’s effort was straight at the keeper.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce had opted for a 4-4-2 formation with Carlton Cole partnering Nicky Maynard up front, while Matt Taylor returned after his three-match ban, and it was the winger who almost opened the scoring in the opening minute when his thumping 25-yarder crashed against the crossbar.

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Taylor provided the perfect cross for Faubert on the far post, but he somehow managed to shoot away from goal, while the best chance came on 37 minutes when Cole’s clever pass released Mark Noble in the box, but his shot was superbly saved by Tomasz Kuszczak.

But as the half wore on, West Ham’s passing became more erratic and the fans grew more impatient, with Murray going close for Watford with a drilled shot that went inches wide.

Things did not improve after the break with only James Tomkins’ header into the ground and over the bar to get the fans off their feet and after the injury to Bennett, it was Watford who seemed to capitalise on the break as first Alex Kacaniklic saw his shot deflected inches wide and then John Eustace almost caught Rob Green out with a 30-yard chip.

On 69 minutes, Murray hit a shot which flew in off the post and West Ham looked shell-shocked as Kacaniklik forced a save from Green five minutes later.

Allardyce threw on Vaz Te and Henri Lansbury, but the equaliser still did not look like coming despite some pressure and plenty of corners.

They finally managed it on 87 minutes with Vaz Te’s strike, but that was as good as it got for the Hammers and they remain second in the table.

West Ham: Green, O’Brien (Lansbury 75), McCartney, Tomkins, Faye, Faubert, Nolan, Noble, Taylor (Vaz Te 75), Maynard (Baldock 62), Cole.

Unused subs: Boffin, O’Neil.

Attendance: 31,674.

Referee: Keith Stroud.

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