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

faithful.