Wilfried Zaha’s 97th minute equalizer topped off a worthy comeback Crystal Palace in a thrilling 2-2 draw against West Ham at Selhurst Park.
Wilfried Zaha’s 97th minute equaliser topped off a worthy comeback Crystal Palace in a thrilling 2-2 draw against West Ham at Selhurst Park.
The game started as a very shaky affair, with both sides not giving each other much time on the ball and compensating with ham-fisted passes and hurried panicky play all round.
Palace’s troubles started to mount after just 11 minutes, when Patrick van Aanholt was taken off with an injury, being substituted for Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
West Ham’s first goal came right off the counter after Wilfried Zaha went down in the box after a challenge from Jose Fonte, only for referee Bobby Madley to wave play on. West Ham’s pacey counter attack on the left was aided by Joel Ward being completely out of position at right-back.
Taking the advantage, Aaron Cresswell used his acres of space to cross into Javier Hernandez, who put the ball in off the outside of his boot.
Palace nearly went 2-0 down straight away, with panicking defensive movements putting manager Roy Hodgson on the edge of his seat.
Palace nearly brought it 1-1 with a great free header from James Tomkins following a corner, only for Joe Hart to produce a spectacular double reflex save on the shot and it’s rebound.
Another goal to forget for Palace came just before half-time, when Luka Milivojević’s tame back pass gave Andre Ayew great run towards Palace’s defence.
The resulting power shot, which rocketed into the top left corner, took a bit of the sting out of what was a costly mistake from the Palace’s Serbian midfielder.
After the break, Palace jumped into action, with Angelo Ogbonna’s poor tackle on Andros Townsend in the area gave Milivojević the chance to slot a penalty home, a chance the Serbian took gratefully.
West Ham then sensed Palace’s eagerness to score, playing defensively almost immediately from the restart.
Joe Hart produced a string of saves in what would have been a Man of the Match performance had Zaha not rescued a point at the death.
Overall, the quality of football across the game, from both sides, was poor, with poor passes and a string of sloppy fouls given away. But what will keep West Ham manager Slaven Bilić awake tonight is how his side had ample opportunities to bury the game at the death, but failed to take them.
Substitute Michel Antonio had a great opportunity with space by the corner flag to hold play up or pass to one of three teammates in the box, but produced a tame cross into the hands of goalkeeper Julian Speroni, who sent the ball upfield for a counter attack.
Roy Hodgson will take confidence from Palace’s persistence in attack in the second half, with an almost unrelenting push forward, albeit invited by West Ham’s lack of motivation to attack themselves.
With striker Christian Benteke out for at least another three weeks and Connor Wickham not due back until the new year, Palace still need to think about what attacking options they have.
Crosses where whipped in with pace to compensate for the lack of a tall frontman, but the quality of those passes left a lot to be desired, especially with full-back Joel Ward, who was Palace’s worst player of the day, throwing a string of poor crosses in before being substituted in on the hour mark.
This was a crucial game for both sides, with Palace taking the momentum with them from a deserved point, going into a difficult next game away to Tottenham.
West Ham owners, David Gold and David Sullivan, will have more food for thought after an unconvincing display by their side.
Palace are now up to four points this season yet remain rooted to the bottom of the table, whilst West Ham are now 16th, going into their game next week, away to Liverpool.