Mark Noble penalty earns injury-hit West Ham draw with Crystal Palace
The Hammers were without eight players through injury.
Mark Noble’s penalty cancelled out a rare Christian Benteke goal as injury-hit West Ham battled to a 1-1 Premier League draw with Crystal Palace at the London Stadium.
Noble struck just before half-time, after James Tomkins had tripped Javier Hernandez, to secure a point which lifted the patched-up Hammers into the top half.
This looked a crucial game for both teams who, despite lying in mid-table remain firmly in the relegation mix, yet the next 24 hours could be even more vital in their attempts to stay clear of trouble.
Palace remain in the market for a forward – Benteke’s second goal of the season is unlikely to convince manager Roy Hodgson to call off his search – while West Ham simply need bodies.
They were without eight players through injury and one, Arthur Masuaku, who will miss the next six matches through suspension for spitting at Wigan on Saturday.
And with West Ham so far unable, or unwilling, to bring in further reinforcements ahead of Wednesday’s deadline boss David Moyes had to name a team containing six defenders, with Pablo Zabaleta the man pushed into midfield.
The one new arrival this month, on-loan Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario, had a glorious chance to mark his home debut with a goal after just three minutes but miskicked his attempted volley.
Hernandez was then denied by a last-ditch challenge from former Hammer Tomkins as the ball fell invitingly in the penalty area.
Yet despite their surfeit of defenders West Ham were still carved open by Palace’s first real attack in the 24th minute.
James McArthur’s pass found Andros Townsend, who beat Declan Rice too easily before crossing for Benteke to thump home a close-range header.
But West Ham were thrown a lifeline three minutes before half-time when Tomkins slid in on Hernandez, who saw him coming, left his leg in the way and allowed the centre-half to whip it from underneath him.
Referee Neil Swarbrick awarded the penalty and Noble, West Ham’s ‘Mr Reliable’ from the spot, did the honours.
Never in doubt. pic.twitter.com/JOSLmHGv41— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) January 30, 2018
Palace, who lost Bakary Sako to injury, almost scored twice in the six minutes added on at the end of the first half – most of which were for the time it took
Sako to leave the field – but McArthur headed over and Luka Milivojevic shot too high.
After the break Sam Byram’s cross was met by Hernandez in front of goal but his header was too close to keeper Wayne Hennessey.
James Collins just failed to get a touch on a Mario free-kick but chances dried up as the game wore on, both teams seemingly happy to claim a point ahead of more pressing engagements, both on and off the pitch.