West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 2

"The Great Escape starts here" bellowed the PA announcer at kick-off - but it was Newcastle United who dug their way out of trouble with the equaliser just nine minutes from the end of this entertaining 2-2 draw.

David James had no chance of stopping a cracking 25-yard left foot volley from Jermaine Jenas - his first Premiership goal for the Magpies - that flew into the top left-hand corner after Hammers had failed to completely clear the bouncing ball into their box.

It was a big blow to West Ham, who had shown great character again to come from behind with first half goals from Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe after Craig Bellamy had given the Geordies an early lead.

The draw lifts West Ham off the bottom of the table, above West Bromwich Albion who lost at home to Manchester United. And although the other sides immediately above Glenn Roeder's team - Sunderland and Bolton Wanderers - could also only manage home draws - these were definitely two points dropped against a side whose recent away form has been less than impressive.

There was certainly no faulting Hammers' appetite and endeavour as typified by new signing Lee Bowyer, who came through a steady, if uneventful, debut with much credit.

After all the furore surrounding his arrival back in East London in recent days, all eyes were on the former Leeds United midfielder but if the media were waiting for him to hand them more ammunition with which to attack him, they were left disappointed.

Bowyer, playing on the right of a midfield quartet, had a couple of tame shots that didn't trouble Shay Given but, football-wise, he showed what an asset he could be. Considering he has been spent the last few weeks recovering from an Achilles injury, he produced a busy, competitive performance and settled well in his new colours.

It was all positive for Bowyer, who didn't concede his first free-kick until the 26th minute of the SECOND half!

But for all his undoubted qualities, Bowyer cannot be expected to patch up the holes that continue to appear in Hammers' porous defence and which resurfaced as early as the ninth minute.

Christian Dailly was unable to prevent Shola Ameobi's cross from the right wing, flicked on by Jenas to Bellamy, who turned sharply to score from close range.

But instead of dropping their heads, the home side - roared on by an always vocal crowd - came back in style. Some of the free-flowing football, with captain Cole, the impressive Michael Carrick and Defoe invariably involved, made a nonsense of the team's perilous league position.

Steve Lomas, replacing Seb Schemmel at right-back, played a part in both goals. His long throw was misheaded by a Newcastle defender to Cole, who controlled well before firing West Ham level with his left-foot on 13 minutes.

Althoiugh James put his recent nightmares behind him to make a fine save to deny Ameobi, it was West Ham who finished the half the stronger. Defoe, thriving alongside another strike partner in Trevor Sinclair, always looked a threat and no-one deserved a goal more.

Running flat out down the touchline, Lomas swung in a low cross that Defoe, with his back to goal, controlled before turning to bury his shot inside the far post - a smartly taken strike for his fourth goal of the season.

In the opening minutes of the second half, both Cole and Bellamy wasted promising chances to extend the scoring, while Bowyer found the sidenetting from an acute angle after another positive run deep into Newcastle territory.

Roeder was forced into making his first change on 56 minutes, when Nigel Winterburn suffered a knock in a typical full-blooded challenge and had to replaced at left-back by Scott Minto. Sir Bobby Robson called upon Lomana LuaLua and his tricky runs caused some anxious moments for a retreating Hammers defence.

With 10 minutes to play, Roeder made a double substitution by introducing Don Hutchison as Edouard Cisse's replacement in central midfield, with Ian Pearce coming on for Sinclair up front.

Yet within seconds, Newcastle's greater emphasis on attack paid dividends when Jenas popped up on the edge of the penalty area to thump a brilliant equaliser after Dailly had failed to clear properly.

Newcastle boss Robson felt that a draw was a fair result, but offered wise words of encouragement to former Magpie Roeder and his team when he added: 'Of all the teams down at the bottom, West Ham look to have the best chance of pulling clear of trouble, because they will always score goals.'

Roeder said: "We were disappointed with the way the ball was allowed to travel to Jenas, but it was a fantastic strike from what is supposedly his weaker left foot.

"I thought Lee Bowyer got stronger and stronger. He hasn't played for a month but has a natural bank of fitness and I'm sure that once he gets to know us more and we get to know him, he'll be a great asset.

The West Ham boss admitted he could have done more to have taken the heat out of the media criticism surrounding Bowyer this week. He told the assembled press corps: "Not many people would hold their hands up, but I'm still learning as a manager and, after signing him on Thursday, I should have invited all of you down to interview him.

"There will only be one more player coming in - hopefully next week - and we're looking at a striker."


1 - A half-chance after just 40 seconds for the Hammers, as Sinclair holds the ball up well with his back to goal and feeds Carrick, whose left-foot shot is blocked by a defender.

7 - After Sinclair is fouled by Hughes, Carrick's free-kick is headed just wide by Breen.

9 - GOAL. Newcastle open the scoring with their first attack of the game, as Dailly allows Ameobi to gain possession on the right hand touchline before turning inside and slipping a pass into Jenas, who cuts the ball back for Bellamy to twist cleverly and stab the ball past James. West Ham United 0 Newcastle United 1.

12 - Ameobi again causes problems, and turns on the edge of the area before sending in a shot that takes a deflection and loops up, forcing James to tip the ball over the bar.

13 - Carrick finds Defoe, who turns neatly on the edge of the area but fires his shot too weakly straight at Given.

14 - GOAL! Hammers bounce straight back, something they have made a habit of doing in recent matches. Lomas' long throw from the right is only headed on by Caldwell and Cole picks up the loose ball before beating Griffin and firing a left-foot shot low past Given. West Ham United 1 Newcastle United 1.

16 - Bowyer's speculative volley from 30 yards out spins well wide of the target.

20 - Defoe goes close again, holding off a couple of challenges as he dribbles along the edge of the penalty area before firing in a left-foot shot that Given parries but collects at the second attempt with Sinclair lurking.

27 - Newcastle come close to taking the lead again, as Ameobi combines well with Bellamy and holds off Bowyer before unleashing a fierce left foot shot that James blocks well.

34 - Defoe gets a touch to Carrick's free-kick from the left, but Given does well to hold the effort on his goal-line.

45 - GOAL! A magnificent boost for the Hammers on the stroke of half-time, as Lomas charges down the right and whips in a low cross that Defoe controls at the near post with his back to goal before dummying left and turning right to beat Caldwell and fire in a superb low strike past Given. West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 1.

Added time: 1 minute.

45 - Newcastle almost grab an instant equaliser, as Bernard's cross isn't properly cleared, and drops to Acuna, who is denied from six yards out by a tremendous point-blank save from James.

Half-time: West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 1.

Second Half:

49 - Cole's mazy run on the left sees him beat two defenders before slipping the ball through for Bowyer, who is denied a debut goal by the linesman's raised flag.

51- Cole again breaks clear on the left, but gets caught in two minds as he enters the area and screws the ball wide instead of picking out the unmarked run of Bowyer.

53 - Griffin booked for foul on Cole.

57 - Substitution for West Ham, Minto replaces Winterburn.

58 - Sinclair's flick-on is met by Defoe, who prods the ball on for Bowyer to shoot into the side-netting from an acute angle on the left.

65 - Carrick's left-foot curler from 25 yards out flies over the angle of post and crossbar.

78 - Bellamy escapes down the right but his cross takes a deflection off Dailly and drops conveniently for James.

81 - Double substitution for West Ham, Hutchison replaces Cisse, and Pearce replaces Sinclair.

81 - GOAL. Before the two Hammers substitutes have even had a chance to taste the action, Newcastle equalise in stunning fashion, as Dailly's clearance is blocked and loops up for Jenas to fire a superb left foot volley from 25 yards out that gives James no chance as it flies in the top corner. West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 2.

86 - Substitution for Newcastle, Cort replaces Ameobi.

Added time: 3 minutes.

Full-time: West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 2.