West Ham 0 Leeds United 0

West Ham earned their first point of the new season with a spirited display against in-form Leeds United at Upton Park.

Yet both sides and their supporters will be wondering how the scoreline finished goalless after 90 minutes of fast-flowing, attacking football and glorious chances at both ends.

On the day the Hammers opened the top tier of their fantastic new Dr Martens West Stand, the proof of a bright new era at the Boleyn Ground was evident as Roeder's men matched their opponents every inch of the way with an exciting but disciplined display that thrilled the watching Hammers fans.

Against a team who have genuine Championship hopes this season and embarrassed Arsenal on their own turf in midweek, Hammers looked comfortable and confident and, but for a mixture of poor finishing and last-ditch defending, could quite easily have walked away with all three points.

Paolo Di Canio will still be kicking himself after failing to find the net - he enjoyed the Hammers' best chances and should have broken the deadlock as early as the sixth minute when Sebastien Schemmel's delicate chip dropped at the Italian's feet on the edge of the area.

However, not realising how much time he had, Di Canio snatched at a first time shot and saw the ball trickle into the arms of Nigel Martyn.

The 24,517 crowd were given a taste of what was to come in this end-to-end encounter three minutes later, when Bowyer's inch-perfect cross was met by the rising Mark Viduka - who somehow headed the clearest chance of the game over the bar.

Leeds then began to take control and went close again when Harry Kewell's shot was deflected just wide by the foot of Sebastien Schemmel and Robbie Keane blasted over the bar from 12 yards out.

The Hammers ended the half the stronger team, though, with Joe Cole wasting a good opportunity when put through by Di Canio on the left and Michael Carrick almost hitting a Goal of the Season contender when his attempted lob from the halfway line dropped just the wrong side of the upright.

Carrick then shot wide again after a clever quick free-kick from Di Canio and Svetolsav Todorov's intelligent pass almost created a goal for Joe Cole before Martyn rushed out to clear the danger.

The chances of the second 45 minutes providing similar entertainment and opportunities without a goal seemed remote, but that was exactly what happened as both sides were left tearing their hair out by the frustrations in front of goal.

Three minutes after the break, Cole had a goal disallowed when Todorov was harshly penalised for a foul on Martyn, while Di Canio's cheeky free-kick crashed into the side-netting.

It was then Leeds' turn to put the pressure on, and Keane's snap-shot was superbly saved by Hislop before Kewell's dangerous low cross was cleared by Christian Dailly who, along with his central defensive partner Rigobert Song, was in fine form for the second week running and did so much to deny the dangerous pairing of Keane and Viduka.

On 62 minutes, the Hammers were presented with a glorious chance when Todorov ran on to Sinclair's header and turned inside Matteo to leave himself one-on-one with Martyn, but fired his shot wide of the target.

Nigel Winterburn even got in on the act as he saw a fierce low shot well saved, while substitute Jermain Defoe, making his Upton Park debut, curled a low effort just past the post just a minute after replacing Todorov.

The moment of the match came on 76 minutes, when Sinclair's deep cross found Di Canio on the left-hand side of the area. As he shaped to hit a first-time volley, defender Danny Mills committed himself to blocking the ball, only to watch in vain as the Italian maestro beautifully turned the ball on to his left foot and line up what seemed a certain goal.

His shot beat Martyn, but former Hammers hero Rio Ferdinand showed again why he rated as one of Europe's finest defenders by instinctively deflecting the ball over the bar.

The searing heat and frenetic pace finally took it's toll in the closing stages as the game slowed down, although there was still time for Trevor Sinclair to be denied by a fantastic last-ditch tackle from Matteo just six yards out.

The rousing applause that greeted the final whistle was thoroughly deserved and boss Roeder admitted: "I'm very satisfied with a point, although obviously it would have been better to get the other two.

"Two good performances have unfortunately only yielded one point for us but we created quite a few chances today and it's amazing that it ended 0-0.

"They were difficult conditions but both teams put a lot of effort into the 90 minutes.

"We've set our benchmark now, although I am still desperate to strengthen the squad so that we can improve further."

The game was preceded by a minute's silence - that was impeccably observed by both sets of supporters - in honour of former Hammers goalkeeper and coach Les Sealey, who tragically died last week at the age of just 43.

Nothing will take away the pain felt by Les' family and friends at this sad time, but they can take comfort from the fact that this was a match that summed up one of football's true characters - full of passion, entertainment and smiles all round.

whufc.com man of the match: Paolo Di Canio. Our inspirational skipper did his best to secure a memorable victory for his side and came close on many occasions with some magical moments of skill. Sadly his efforts were not rewarded with triumph.

by Danny Francis