Hammers and Pool share spoils

Ian Holloway had threatened to quit if fined for making 10
alterations for the midweek defeat at Aston Villa, and had recalled
his main men on Saturday afternoon. However, it was referee Kevin
Friend who took centre stage when he denied the home side what
looked two clear first-half penalties, with Avram Grant’s men then
unable to make the most of their opportunities as the Israeli again
faced calls for his resignation at the final whistle. West Ham had
not won in the league since the end of September. However, it was a
positive start by the Irons, as fit-again Mark Noble stabbed a
20-yard effort wide. Frederic Piquionne, who scored a penalty in
the 2-2 draw against West Brom here on Wednesday night, broke down
the left and cut inside the box, but his shot was charged down
before Daniel Gabbidon headed a corner over. West Ham were forced
into a change after 18 minutes when midfielder Kieron Dyer, just
back from a hamstring problem, was replaced by Mexico winger Pablo
Barrera. Blackpool had a good spell, as DJ Campbell fired a
snapshot straight at Robert Green. West Ham had what looked a
strong penalty claim turned down by referee Friend when left-back
Stephen Crainey appeared to trip Barrera out on the right
touchline. At the other end, David Vaughan drove into the left side
of the West Ham area before releasing a low shot which flew just
wide of Green’s post. The home side were again screaming for a
spot-kick when Victor Obinna’s fierce 18-yard drive struck Craig
Cathcart on the arm, but once more the referee was not interested.
Blackpool had to replace goalkeeper Matthew Gilks at the start of
the second half, after he had appeared to jar his knee when
clearing a goalkick, with Richard Kingson coming on for an
unexpected second appearance of the week. West Ham had another
great chance when Luis Boa Morte was slipped into the left side of
the penalty area by Scott Parker, but dragged his shot wide of the
far post. Blackpool captain Charlie Adam spotted Green off his line
and so tried an audacious chip from just inside the West Ham half
which, fortunately for the backpedalling keeper, dropped over the
bar. Obinna drilled the ball high and wide after it was cut back
from the touchline – much to the frustration of the Irons fans
behind the goal in the Bobby Moore Stand. Blackpool substitute
Marlon Harewood almost returned to haunt his former club, but his
scrambled goal from a free-kick was ruled out for offside. Parker
scampered into the Blackpool box before cutting the ball back to
Barrera on the penalty spot, but his sidefoot effort was blocked by
Ian Evatt. West Ham substitute Carlton Cole almost had an instant
impact but his deflected close-range effort struck the outside of
the post. Gary Taylor-Fletcher then skied the ball over the bar
when arriving in the penalty area following a quick Blackpool break
down the left. Kingson made an acrobatic one-handed save to tip
Noble’s curling 20-yard effort behind. There was an almighty
let-off for the hosts when Harewood somehow stabbed the ball wide
from six yards before Green deflected away a goalbound effort from
Cathcart. In stoppage time, Benni McCarthy headed over as once
again the Hammers were booed off by the disgruntled Upton Park