West Brom snuck out of the Upton Park back door with a useful point after a painfully dour 0-0 draw with West Ham on Monday.
Tony Mowbray’s Premier League basement dwellars could and should have even come away with all three points after creating a handful of glaring opportunities against a hugely disappointing West Ham side.
James Morrison, Marc-Antoine Fortune and Jonathan Greening were all guilty of profligate finishing in front of goal, leaving 30,842 East Enders wondering if the famous soap would have provided a better Monday night’s entertainment.
In fairness to West Brom, as the league’s bottom club, they did all that could be expected of them as the away side – other than apply the finishing touches. If only Tony Mowbray could find a striker with a killer eye for goal.
Time and again The Baggies’ football has entertained this season but, much like at Upton Park, time and again chances have gone begging.
Employing a high pressing game that hurried the West Ham back four from the opening whistle, all the best chances fell West Brom’s way in a hugely forgettable football match that drew relief at the final whistle.
West Ham were snappy in the tackle – Mark Noble and Scott Parker always are – but either side of their midfield duo The Hammers were not at the races. West Brom should have taken advantage.
Robert Koren’s excellent first-time ball into Fortune handed the big striker a huge shooting chance 10 yards from goal, Fortune drew back his right foot but somewhere between his head and his feet the messages got confused as he rifled disappointingly into the side-netting.
Next came vociferous appeals for a West Brom penalty as Lucas Neil grabbed a huge chunk of Paul Robinson’s shorts, but referee Mark Halsey deemed the challenge soft...in fairness you see such moments at every corner.
A minute later the incident should have mattered little as Morrison danced into the West Ham penalty area, waltzing past two lame challenges, only to see Robert Green make a fine point-blank stop in front of the watching Fabio Capello.
Let’s hope he was still awake by that point.
Only one more incident of note took place before the break and that was an injury to Matt Upson, stretchered off with an innocuous-looking problem to be replaced by Jonathan Spector.
Half time arrived, thankfully, West Ham had only truly threatened once through a blocked Freddie Sears shot from Noble’s cut-back. Gianfranco Zola surely through his non-too-ample weight around the changing room.
The response from his players would hardly have enthralled the former Italy international. The tempo raised from first to second gear, but when half-chances presented themselves to David Di Michele and Savio, both men fired wastefully off target.
The only thing more embarrassing than The Hammers’ finishing was the behaviour of a small section of their fans, who slung the ball at Chris Brunt with a side dish of obscenities after the Baggies’ wideman had merely had the temerity to beat Jonathan Spector down the left flank.
Still the best moments were being produced by West Brom, who were desperately unlucky not to be ahead when Shelton Martis crashed his header into the bar – albeit after Jonas Olsson appeared to have aimed a sickening elbow in the direction of the grounded Green.
This was becoming a turgid football match, summed up by consecutive West Ham backpasses to Green, yet West Brom had enough golden chances to win two football matches.
Greening was the final guilty party, bursting onto Koren’s excellent slide-rule pass inside the box only to clip the ball high over the bar. The puff of Mowbray’s cheeks told its own story.
Zola had seen enough, off came Savio for debutant Junior Stanislas. The change almost inspired the most undeserved of late breakthoughs. Stanislas, providing a rare moment of class, sent in an inswinging cross from the left where Di Michele glanced goalwards...only to see the ball bounce just wide.