Match Report: West Ham 3 West Brom 3
There was nothing to split these two out of sorts sides, as West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion were involved in a thrilling 3-3 draw in the early kick at Upton Park on Saturday.
With these both teams down the bottom of the form table, the scoreline could have been anything.
After three minutes, the first chance of the game went to the visitors. A James Morrison cross eluded right back Joey O'Brien and Chris Brunt's volley hit the side netting.
Thirty seconds later, West Ham went one better and took the lead through a neat Joe Cole finish. The midfielder played a one-two with captain Kevin Nolan, and then slotted home to give the hosts the lead.
Unfortunately for the Hammers, James Tomkins went off with what looked to be like a thigh injury and was replaced by Guy Demel after 10 minutes. With James Collins and Winston Reid already out of action, manager Sam Allardyce was now without a specialist centre-half.
After 17 minutes, a Matt Jarvis corner found the head of Mohammed Diame, who rose highest, but his header was easily caught by former England international keeper, Ben Foster.
Minutes later Jarvis's corner was inviting, however, Carlton Cole's header went comfortably over, and the score remained 1-0 in a game that the hosts had started brightly.
Some good build up play from West Ham saw Joe Cole clip the ball towards the far post. Carlton Cole got his head to it, but the angle was too narrow, and Demel's effort hit the outside of the post. Mark Noble was unlucky with his free kick which went wide of the post after a foul on Nolan from Gareth McAuley.
Then the game was turned on its head. On 40 minutes Brunt's through ball cut the Hammers defence in half, and there was veteran Nicolas Anelka on hand to notch his first goal in a Baggies shirt with a tidy finish and draw caretaker boss Keith Downing's men level.
On the 45th minute, Frenchman Anelka, bagged two in one game after James Morrison's corner caused a scramble in the box. Anelka's touch dribbled over the line and West Brom went in at half-time with the lead after going 1-0 down early on.
After the interval, Carlton Cole was replaced by Modibo Maiga to freshen things up in attack, and hope to bring the Hammers back on level terms. However, Anelka nearly bagged himself a hat-trick inside two minutes of the second half after he latched onto Billy Jones's cross, but Jussi Jaaskelainen was on hand to keep the much travelled striker's shot out.
Left Back Razvan Rat's optimistic shot from all of 35 yards out was easily handled by Ben Foste after 50 minutes of play, while at the other end James Morrison's cut back to youngster Saido Berahinho allowed him to let rip from 20 yards, but his shot went just wide.
After a foul on Jarvis, West ham had the perfect opportunity to draw level for the home side with an indirect free kick from 20 yards, however, Joe Cole's effort failed to worry Foster.
A mad spell in the space of ten minutes was about to heat Upton Park which contained nothing but the ball hitting the back of the net for both teams, who have gained less points in December than any other team.
First Foster was forced into making a superb save from Maiga. After a deep cross from Jarvis, Maiga cut inside of Diego Lugano and unleashed a curling shot that had Foster scrambling.
Two minutes later, Maiga produced exactly the same, this time it hit the back of the net. After Nolan jinked past Youssef Mulumbu, the captain laid it off to Maiga, who curled home to score his second goal of 2013.
The Hammers hit the ground running and, before you knew it, their lead was restored. Mark Noble's cross to the far post found Maiga, who knocked it down for Nolan, who volleyed home to put the Hammers 3-2 up.
But the lead was short lived, as substitute, Morgan Amalfitano, fed the ball to Berahino, who breezed past Demel and his low drive went in off the inside of the post to make the game all square again.
Brunt had a fantastic chance to put the Baggies back in the lead when Liam Ridgewell's cross was cleared by O'Brien, only for Brunt to pick up the loose ball, but his shot went straight into the hands of Jaaskelainen with 78 minutes played.
Berahino was inches from making it 4-3 to the Baggies when his free kick blasted against the post and it was still all square in East London.
With five minutes remaining, Demel's in-swinging cross had Nolan's name written all over it, but his header went narrowly over the bar and it looked as though West Brom would be going back to Birmingham with two points in two games in the capital.
That was the last real chance of the game, which means West Ham still remained in the bottom three and now go into a crucial fixture against fellow relegation burdened Fulham at Carven Cottage knowing that anything but victory could cost Big Sam his place in the dugout at the Boleyn Ground.