Blackburn 1 West Ham 1

WestHam.gifWest Ham earned another point in their quest for a Europa League place next season with a battling 1-1 draw at Ewood Park.

Mark Noble notched his fifth goal of the season, on his 100th appearance for the Hammers, while Kieron Dyer made a welcome return to action.

West Ham started brightly and took the game to Blackburn in the first half and were rewarded when Noble steered a right footed shot beyond Paul Robinson and in off the post in the 35th minute.

The goal capped a fine flowing Hammers' move and Noble, who has been in indifferent form in recent weeks, looked to be getting back to his best.

But Blackburn, too close to the relegation zone for comfort, rallied in the second half and put West Ham under serious pressure.

Keith Andrews equalised on 51 minutes and the home side pushed for a winner but found the Irons' makeshift defence, missing Matthew Upson, resolute.

With the powerful Christopher Samba providing the focal point Rovers launched an aerial bombardment of the Hammers goal but could not find a way through.

On the one occasion when they did have a direct shot on goal Rob Green produced a fantastic diving save to deny Samba.

Dyer, making his first appearance for the Irons after a two month injury lay-off, looked lively and had a good shout for a penalty turned down in the closing minutes.

But the referee waved away the appeal and West Ham had to settle for a point.

Hammers' boss Gianfranco Zola was pleased with his side's work.

He said: "I think that I am happier than Sam Allardyce.

"When you look at all the problems we have injury-wise and with players not being 10 per cent fit, I have to consider this to be a very good result.

"Players like Lucas Neill and Scott Parker showed a lot of passion out there.

"They gave everything and it shows that they really care. That's what makes the difference between this team now and the past.

"Our defending was really, really good but, to be honest, you have to play like that because Blackburn Rovers put so many big bodies into the box. So many big ones!"

"In the second half, Blackburn gave everything. It was a close game and both teams could have won it. I'm pleased with the way that my team played.

"In the end, I think the result was right."

West Ham: Green, Neill, Ilunga, Spector, Tomkins, Parker, Kovac, Noble, Boa Morte (Lopez, 79), Di Michele (Payne, 90), Tristan (Dyer, 82). Unused subs: Lastuvka, Sears, N'Gala, Stanislas.

Booked: Parker

Goal: Noble 35

Blackburn: Robinson, Oooijer (Andrews, 46), Samba, Nelsen, Givet, Diouf, Mokoena, Warnock, Pedersen, McCarthy, Roberts. Unused subs: Brown, Tugay, Dunn, Khizanshivili, Villanueva, Treacy.

Booked: Nelsen, Mokoena.

Goal: Andrews 51

Attendance: 21,672