Friday 15 December 2017

Pulis focused on Barry landmark after dour draw

West Brom's Gareth Barry, centre left, glances a header over in their 0-0 draw against West Ham
West Brom's Gareth Barry, centre left, glances a header over in their 0-0 draw against West Ham

Boss Tony Pulis joked only Gareth Barry deserve the spotlight after West Brom were held to a forgettable 0-0 draw by West Ham.

The midfielder equalled Ryan Giggs' Premier League appearance record as he featured in his 632nd top flight game of his career.

Barry's achievement was the only moment of serious note at The Hawthorns following a poor and scrappy match at The Hawthorns on Saturday.

Pedro Obiang hit the bar from long range for the Hammers as Albion failed to create a serious opening and Pulis conceded Barry, who made his Premier League debut for Aston Villa in 1998, warranted the plaudits.

"You're best off talking about Gareth," he joked.

"From the outside, over the years, watching the lad play, I've always been a great admirer.

"Him coming into the football club, you just recognise and realise the dedication and his application towards his profession is just absolutely fantastic.

"He's like Fletch (Darren Fletcher) in lots of ways. They're bastions of this sport, this wonderful sport that we play in and work in.

"The young players at our football club, I hope they realise how lucky they are to see someone of that quality and that ilk.

"The game needed a goal. (There were) two really good opportunities in the first half from (Kieran) Gibbs and then from Moz (James Morrison) from our point of view.

"One side of it today has been good, the other side of it we've got to improve."

It was a second consecutive clean sheet for the Hammers as they eased a little pressure on boss Slaven Bilic following their stuttering start.

The remained in the bottom three after five games but Bilic was satisfied with their efforts.

"It wasn't a great game of football. T o get more - the three points we were looking for - the quality in the last third was missing," he said.

"I have no complaints, it's been a good week for us. To have another clean sheet, to get a point away from home, you can't be too negative about it."

Obiang hit the bar with an ambitious 45-yard lob which almost caught out Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster but neither side looked like breaking the deadlock.

Foster avoided a red card in the second half after clattering Javier Hernandez and Bilic conceded a caution was fair.

He added: "To be fair I asked the referee to give a red card because I have seen a lot of times that being a red card. But when I saw it again I can't blame the referee.

"First thing is Foster was not the last man. Two men were behind, (Jonny) Evans and (Ahmed) Hegazi - and the second thing is the challenge was mistimed and not brutal."

James Collins limped off late on for the Hammers and will need a scan on an ankle injury.

"We are going to scan it - it is an injury but what gives me hope is he continued after it happened in the first half," added Bilic.

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