Friday 19 January 2018

Costly error sours things for Randolph on his return

Randolph was all at sea for the second leveller in the 89th minute. Photo credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Randolph was all at sea for the second leveller in the 89th minute. Photo credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

John Fallon

Saturday's trip to White Hart Lane provided Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph with his first Premier League start of the season, but unfortunately he wasn't blameless in West Ham's late defensive collapse.

Harry Kane's brace in the final couple of minutes inflicted a 3-2 defeat on the Hammers, keeping them one spot above the relegation zone and leaving manager Slaven Bilic with a dilemma over which of his keepers to choose for Saturday's visit to Manchester United.

West Ham's dire start to the season had put the Croatian under pressure to drop regular custodian Adrian, and he would have done so last month only for Randolph's hand injury.

Once the Spaniard was at fault for Stoke's equaliser at the London Arena two weeks ago, however, he was always going to make way for the Bray man, the first choice of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill for the past year.

Randolph may have been content up until the latter stages with his afternoon's work, despite parrying Vincent Janssen's shot straight to Harry Winks for the Spurs equaliser, but he was all at sea for the second leveller on 89 minutes.

His attempts to dive low to cut out a cross by Heung-Min Son came up short, allowing Kane to slot home. Two minutes later he was picking the England striker's effort out of the net after guessing right for his penalty without being able to repel a powerful shot.

O'Neill could afford a wry smile in seeing James McCarthy go straight back into the Everton line-up for Saturday's draw against Swansea City after his recent injury troubles.

However, not for the first time this season, with club or country, the Glaswegian was overshadowed by teammate Seamus Coleman, whose late header rescued a point for the Toffees.

"Seamus is one of our leaders," said Leighton Baines. "His energy is always terrific and you could see how much it meant to him scoring the goal."

Stoke City are still awaiting the timescale of Glenn Whelan's return to action after he missed his first Premier League game of the season on Saturday.

Whelan limped out of Ireland's World Cup qualifier in Austria nine days ago with a hamstring strain and his absence was felt as Mark Hughes's men suffered a disappointing home loss to a Bournemouth side harnessed by Harry Arter.

Better news was the sight of Shane Long ending his four-week spell on the sidelines with hamstring trouble to appear as a substitute for Southampton against Liverpool.

At home, newly-promoted Drogheda United have re-signed 12 of last season's squad, converted two loan signings into permanent deals and recruited local lad Gavin Brennan.

Manager Pete Mahon will retain keeper Stephen McGuinness, along with Colm Deasy, Lloyd Buckley, Kevin Farragher, Luke Gallagher, Stephen Dunne, Sean Thornton, Sean Brennan, Jake Hyland and Adam Wixted, as well as youngsters Mark Doyle and Eoghan Dempsey.

Gareth McCaffrey and Richie Purdy, who both spent the second half of the campaign on loan from Shamrock Rovers, have also come aboard as full signings.

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