Pulis watches Baggies get a point

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Published: Thursday 1st January 2015 by The News Editor

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New West Brom manager Tony Pulis watched from the stands as his side battled to a 1-1 draw at West Ham.

The former Crystal Palace and Stoke boss has signed a two-and-a-half year contract at The Hawthorns to replace Alan Irvine, who was sacked on Monday.

The Baggies, who had started the day in 16th place and just a point off the dropzone, had to recover after falling behind to an early goal from Diafra Sakho, but went into half-time level after Saido Berahino equalised on the break.

West Ham, who had lost both their Christmas fixtures so far against Chelsea and then Arsenal, were unable to up the tempo in the second half, as the Baggies showed Pulis should have a solid base on which to plot their safe passage up the Barclays Premier League table.

It was a positive start by West Brom, as midfielder Stephane Sessegnon caused some problems with his driving runs.

On eight minutes, West Ham left-back Aaron Cresswell weaved his way into the penalty area, but could only shoot straight at Ben Foster, claiming afterwards he was tugged back by Gareth McAuley. Referee Jon Moss, though, thought otherwise.

The defender then had a hand in West Ham’s goal on 10 minutes after being released down the left by Stewart Downing.

Creswell got to the by-line before he clipped over a first-time cross, which Sakho headed into the far corner for a ninth goal of the season.

Foster then made a smart save to deny Downing after he cut in from the left and drilled an angled shot goalwards.

On 23 minutes, West Ham were indebted to goalkeeper Adrian, who pulled off a string of fine saves against Arsenal, after the Spaniard turned away a fierce volley from Chris Baird following a cross by Youssouf Mulumbu.

Sessegnon then fired wide when well placed 10 yards out, which just about summed up the Baggies fortunes this season.

The Baggies – who had assistants Rob Kelly and Keith Downing manning the dugout – continued to look dangerous on the break, and were level on 42 minutes.

Berahino pushed the ball out to Sessegnon on the left, and he carried it forwards to the edge of the West Ham penalty area, before squaring back to his team-mate, who dispatched a low shot into the bottom right corner for a first goal since October 25.

West Ham looked lacklustre again at the start of the second half, when a deflected shot from Berahino had Adrian scrambling across his six-yard box to palm the ball away.

Mulumbu cut in from the right and smashed his shot into the side-netting as the Baggies pressed again.

West Ham made a change on 55 minutes when Matt Jarvis replaced Morgan Amalfitano and the home side opted for two wingers.

Cresswell was inches away from making it 2-0 when his curling 25-yard free-kick hit the base of the far post.

Enner Valencia came on for Sakho, who is set to head off to the African Nations Cup, in the 72nd minute, after the forward looked to have injured his back in a goalmouth scramble. West Brom also used the break in play to make a change as Berahino was replaced by Brown Ideye.

West Ham sent on Carlton Cole, replacing Andy Carroll, for the closing stages, but the home side could not make any pressure count, with the Baggies finishing strongly as substitute Silvestre Varela saw a curling effort deflected wide in stoppage time.

Published: Thursday 1st January 2015 by The News Editor

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