Some resolute defending helped West Ham United earn a creditable draw with Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
On a deceptively chilly afternoon at Ewood Park, a whole-hearted team display led by James Collins kept the physical threat of the home side at bay. West Ham had chances of their own, but found their hosts in equally stubborn mood.
Gianfranco Zola reverted to the side that started against Tottenham Hotspur eight days previously, so there were four changes from the side that began the 3-1 Carling Cup second-round win over Millwall on Tuesday.
Zola, on his return to the ground where he made his Premier League debut as a player some 13 years earlier, recalled Matthew Upson, who was joined in central defence by Collins. Further forward, Mark Noble and Luis Jimenez were back in the side. James Tomkins, Danny Gabbidon, Radoslav Kovac and Josh Payne made way.
The home side gave a debut to Pascal Chimbonda at left-back. Former Real Madrid defender Michel Salgado was on the bench.
After a couple of half chances for Cole, the first real opening of note fell to Rovers on ten minutes following a free-kick awarded against Collins after he tangled with Morten Gamst Pedersen. The Wales international was booked and David Dunn floated a free-kick in that resulted in Jason Roberts heading wide when well placed.
Cole had his clearest opening ten minutes later and, if there was ever to be a perfect example of doing the hard work this was it. Cole brushed three Blackburn players off the ball to create space for a shot on the angle. But once the England forward had fashioned the opening, he put his shot high and wide when trying to find the top corner.
Minutes later the Hammers put together another passing move that saw Jimenez denied a goal only by a superb last-ditch tackle by Chimbonda. Blackburn then came close at the other end with Julien Faubert helping a fierce Christopher Samba shot over the bar with his head.
Indeed it appeared that last-ditch tackles and blocks were the order of the match with Collins, on his 100th league start, making a couple of particularly eye-watering blocks.
The Hammers started the second half strongly with Cole and Collins both going close with driven efforts as the home support among the 23,421 grew restless.
Noble became the second Hammer to go into referee Phillip Dowd's book for a late tackle on Dunn. Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce, who had only lost twice in 12 games at Ewood Park since becoming manager, was concerned enough to make his first change on the hour with David Hoilett coming on for Steven Nzoni
West Ham responded with a change of their own as the impressive Jimenez made way for Kieron Dyer, who was back in the squad after recovering from a muscle injury. Dunn was then booked for a foul on the new substitute while Allardyce brought on Nikola Kalinic for his home debut.
But it was another substitute who was to have the chance of the match as a through pass split the Hammers back line to give Hoilett a run in on goal. With Green stranded off his line the Canadian opted to try a chip which seemed to take an eternity to float over the crossbar.
A foul by Upson on Dunn on the edge of the area created a few nervous moments but thankfully Pedersen's curler flew narrowly over.
The Hammers' final change saw Radoslav Kovac come on for Collison for the final few minutes. But the Czech international will have seen little action at either end as the Hammers picked up their 700th point in the Premier League.